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  1. #1

    Question Hardware and Firmware detection during boot up

    I 'm trying to set up up a wireless home network in Linux Debian. I used to run an adhoc wireless network under Windows. One terminal would share its internet connection over the network. This had worked well until I had to update the wireless hardware. I had decided to install a wireless hotspot purchased through my internet provider (telus). To make a long story short, I could not connect 1 laptop to the internet at my home but everywhere else and believe me I tried hard. I had been toying around with the idea of switching to Linux for a few years and I thought this is as good a time as ever, since I have to learn a lot more about administration and computer set up.
    Successfully installed Debian 7.3.0 x64+Net on the machine with the most problems. (Needed to get codex library to play movies). Works.
    Downloaded Debian 7.30xi386 DVD set (3disks+ updates), the remaining 3 computers are all Dells, with 32bit cpu's. None of them will install, various problems relating to hardware and or non free firmware required. Read „Debian Social Contract“, I can accept that but need to find firmware etc to boot successfully.
    Download Mint cinnamon x86Live 2 stations boot, the last stations hangs due to video adapter problems and set up freezes. (Error message: DSM manager fails.
    Installed DSLlinux on last machine and can boot, hardware is supported except wireless card. I believe I found software for it (not yet tested).
    This should confirm that all hardware I have can be made to work under linux. Don't like the idea of having 3 different distros on the network.
    Is it possible to extract the configuration files from the hardware detection loop during boot up from Mint and DSL and the „add them“ to the debian distro, so it could detect and install software for it?

    Or What software is used in Debian 7.3 to detect hardware and firmware? How to add the „missing“ hardware and firmware. On one of the machine I was given the package name for the non free Firmware. I downloaded it, but how would I add it to the distro so it could be detected during boot up?

  2. #2
    Linux User IsaacKuo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Baton Rouge, LA, USA
    What sort of hardware is this? If they're Dells with 32bit CPUs, then it sounds like they're older computers which should have no problem booting up Debian 7 out-of-box. I've never had any problem installing Debian Stable on any Dell computer (I've installed it on 3 different desktop models and one laptop model).

    Now, whenever I do an install I always start off with a wired ethernet connection; I may have to add "non-free" to the sources to install the wifi driver later on.
    Isaac Kuo, ICQ 29055726 or Yahoo mechdan

  3. #3
    Penguin of trust elija's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Either at home or at work or down the pub
    The first step is to run
    dmesg | grep -i firmware
    straight after booting. This will show any missing firmware.

    To expand on the answer given by IsaacKuo you can add the non free repositories by editing the file /etc/apt/sources.list as root and making sure that each line ends with
    contrib non-free
    Once you have done that, run
    apt-get update
    also as root. This makes sure that you have the latest software list available. To install the non free drivers, run
    apt-get install firmware-linux-nonfree
    , again as root and then reboot.

    Run the dmesg command again and if there is still missing firmware, then you can use
    apt-cache search YOUR_FIRMWARE_HERE
    and you can install the identified firmware using
    apt-get install PACKAGE_NAME_HERE
    Should you be sitting wondering,
    Which Batman is the best,
    There's only one true answer my friend,
    It's Adam Bloody West!

    The Fifth Continent

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  5. #4
    Linux Engineer docbop's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Woodshed, CA
    A command I like that give lots of details

    sudo dmidecode

  6. #5
    *IsaacKuo Yes, all 3 Dells are older computers 7-8 years old. I do not have access to the internet via etherernet. I'm in a remote location and have the wireless hotsopt only.
    I was a bit unclear in my post I wrote install, but actually only the 64 bit version IS installed on the hard drive. The tests with Mint and DSL were done via Live CdI. I still have working Windows on them them. I figured it was better to test before crashing 3 machines.

    I do have one Linux machine with internet access. My plan was to use it to download the necessary firm and hardware support. I will try to install Debian to a USB drive and then run the suggested commands by elija and docbob.

  7. #6
    I have found and downloaded firmware package b43-fwcutter+017-2.debian.tar.gz installer , b43-all-fw.tar.gz and firmware-linux-nonfree_028+squeeze1_alll.deb for this broadcom BCM4318 wireless card. Installation has me stumped because of multiple userlevel access issues. I cannot log in as super user, Ihad set up an password but get rejected trying to log on as root +password. IS It possible to install from a local directory?

  8. #7
    Ok, I was able to get the wireless adapter to work, it took a bit more than I expected but nonetheless.
    Although I was able to transfer the driver and driver installer to my harddrive, it did not work due to compatibility issues and dependency issues. The driver was for debian 6.
    Adding this lines to the sources.list main got things rolling. I had to hook up to a wired network (at work) however.
    root@debian:~# apt-get update to update the database
    elija' s dmesg | grep -i firmware
    to get Broadcom Supported chipset:
    - BCM4318

    Package: firmware-b43-installer (1:015-14.1)
    Package: b43-fwcutter (1:015-14.1)
    Apt-get install firmware-b43-installer (this also installed b43-fwcutter and a number of libc's I did not have on my system)
    root@debian:~# dmesg |grep -i firmware
    [ 2.123692] platform microcode: firmware: agent loaded intel-ucode/06-0d-08 into memory
    [ 5.781973] [Firmware Bug]: Duplicate ACPI video bus devices for the same VGA controller, please try module parameter "video.allow_duplicates=1"if the current driver doesn't work.
    [ 20.554118] b43 ssb0:0: firmware: agent loaded b43/ucode5.fw into memory
    [ 20.780620] b43 ssb0:0: firmware: agent loaded b43/pcm5.fw into memory
    [ 20.922799] b43 ssb0:0: firmware: agent loaded b43/b0g0initvals5.fw into memory
    [ 21.063686] b43 ssb0:0: firmware: agent loaded b43/b0g0bsinitvals5.fw into memory
    [ 21.176094] b43-phy0: Loading firmware version 666.2 (2011-02-23 01:15:07)
    Verify correct package was downloaded and installed
    root@debian:~# apt-get install firmware-b43-installer
    Reading package lists... Done
    Building dependency tree
    Reading state information... Done
    firmware-b43-installer is already the newest version.
    0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 47 not upgraded.
    Reboot system

    Verify installation of firmware
    root@debian:~# lspci -vnn -d 14e4:

    enable hardware, press FN+F2 (Dell function key to turn on radio)
    Set up network and connect

  9. #8
    Linux User IsaacKuo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Baton Rouge, LA, USA
    I'm not really familiar with getting stuff working without a wired network to at least start off the first install. After you get at least one working install, though, you can use it to install any required drivers onto itself--and then clone the OS to the other computers by temporarily installing both hard drives in one computer.
    Isaac Kuo, ICQ 29055726 or Yahoo mechdan

  10. #9
    If you mean coning as in remastering then yes, that is what I have tried to do.

    The solution would be to stop installation and add the missing firmware/driver codex and software needed with dpkg from local DIR or apt-get install etc. After the network is up and running, continue the install.

    Im lokking into remastering my current debian 7.3 installation and then create a new iso for next time installation. Any good suggestions?

    This complets terminal 3 of 4 being converted to Debian 7.3

    The last station will be the most difficult. The diabian installation hangs, no screen out put. The only distro I was able to boot was DSL and only by using/selecting a lower video resolution. This station acts as local server and I won't shut be able to shut it down for 2 weeks to sort out hardware compatibility issues.

    I will try find the drivers/firmware and then try to add to the debian boot disc. Only if I can boot with wireless network connection will I make the transfer.

  11. #10
    Linux User IsaacKuo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Baton Rouge, LA, USA
    Quote Originally Posted by nixOn64 View Post
    If you mean coning as in remastering then yes, that is what I have tried to do.
    No, I just mean using dd to clone the drive. For example, you can put the source and destination drives in the same computer, and then boot off of a third drive (or a liveCD). Then, you use dd to clone the source drive to the destination drive. Assuming the drives aren't precisely the same size, you want the OS partition to be smaller than the destination partition, and for it to be the first thing on the drive (to the "left", if viewing in gparted).

    Here is my favorite reference to use:

    How to migrate XP, Vista, Linux, BSD and Solaris to a bigger hard disk

    Basically, the steps are:

    1) Install both drives in a working computer (powered off, of course).
    2) Boot up from a liveCD or a third drive
    3) fdisk -l to positively identify the source and destination drive
    4) dd to clone from the source to destination drive

    For your specific problem, you will want to use apt-get install ilwifi-firmware brc-firmware (or whatever firmware will be needed) on a working computer to install all of the required firmware packages onto the source OS. Only after you've installed all of the required firmware for all of the other computers do you do the cloning process.
    Isaac Kuo, ICQ 29055726 or Yahoo mechdan

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