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This comes with a bit of a story just because of how weird the problem is. I have a Dell Inspiron 9400 with a Dell 1390 wireless card (based on ...
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  1. #1
    Linux Guru jmadero's Avatar
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    weirdest problem....


    This comes with a bit of a story just because of how weird the problem is.

    I have a Dell Inspiron 9400 with a Dell 1390 wireless card (based on broadcom chipset). I've never had an issue with the card, worked in Gutsy and Hardy with absolutely no issues.

    Last week I decide to format my Ubuntu partition. Wireless stops working, card is detected but can't see any networks...I assume it's Ubuntu so I reinstall again with no luck. I decide to go into my XP boot, same problem, card is seen but no networks are visible. At this point I am getting pretty irritated, as I foresee one of two issues, wireless card went out, or antenna went out and I am out of warranty. To test the issue I put my girlfriends Atheros card in my computer, it works, I'm happy, antenna would have been much more difficult to fix.

    Next step, I order a Dell 1490 for my computer (refurbished for $30 ) I get it yesterday, pop it in my system, no luck, same issue, card seen in both Ubuntu Hardy and XP but no signal from any network. I get heated at this point thinking that Dell sent me a bad card. Before I call I decide to try the new card in my roomates computer, it WORKS with no problem....now I'm confused. I then pop the card into my girlfriends computer and same problem as mine, the card is seen in both Vista and Ubuntu Hardy but no networks are seen.

    I decide to try my old 1390 in my roomates computer and to my surprise it works as well.

    Quick Summary:
    My computer--Dell Inspiron 9400, Hardy XP, Dell 1390 and Dell 1490 are seen in both but no signal seen. Girlfriends Atheros card works fine

    Girlfriends computer --Toshiba Satellite A135, Hardy Vista, Dell 1390 and Dell 1490 have same problem as in my system, Atheros works fine

    Roomates computer -- Dell Vostro -- XP, Dell 1390 and Dell 1490 work with no problem at all


    The only conclusion that I could reach was that Ubuntu's broadcom drivers screwed up both windows and Ubuntu....but I have NO idea how this could possibly happen. The only thing my girlfriends and my computer have in common is that they both have Ubuntu on it. How weird is this problem? At this point I am leaning towards just ordering the same Atheros card as hers (but it's pretty difficult to find an Atheros card.....if anyone knows where I can please let me know). I guess I can sell the Dell 1390 and 1490 with no real loss but I would like to have some input.


    Thanks all, sorry for the length, had to explain it all

  2. #2
    Linux Guru techieMoe's Avatar
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    Ok. I have to ask this because it's happened to me before. Did you perhaps accidentally hit the wireless kill switch during your reformat? Is the killswitch set to ON?
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  3. #3
    Linux Guru jmadero's Avatar
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    unfortunately no....I wish it were that simple. I don't have a wireless switch on my computer, and if it were off no card would work but my girlfriends atheros card works with no problem. Thanks for the try though

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    Linux Guru bigtomrodney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmadero View Post
    My computer--Dell Inspiron 9400, Hardy XP, Dell 1390 and Dell 1490 are seen in both but no signal seen.
    Putting aside the Windows issue, this is the exact symptoms associated with not installing the broadcom firmware. This isn't done by default as the firmware is proprietary. Have you installed the firmware?

  6. #5
    Linux Guru jmadero's Avatar
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    Yes the firmware is installed in both my girlfriends computer and mine in Hardy. As mentioned in the email, the card was functional in Hardy and XP up until about a week and a half ago. The windows problem is what makes me really concerned about what's going on as both computers with Hardy (one with Vista and one with XP Pro) can't use the card in either OS. Thanks for the input

  7. #6
    Linux Guru bigtomrodney's Avatar
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    I can't imagine how the Ubuntu drivers could have harmed the Windows drivers...Usually when I see quirks like this I'd flash the Bios with the latest bios image. I've seen really strange problems that seem to defy logic being corrected with Bios flashes.

    As a last test before you try that, boot into Windows and attempt a network connection. When it fails (or you get no signal) reboot Windows directly back into Windows without going to Linux in between. See if that makes any difference. I remember seeing a network card hang under similar circumstances a few years back and it was resurrected after the second Windows boot.

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    I understand that windows will disable some cards, and then they can't be used by Linux. The fix for this is to go into your BIOS and enable Wake On LAN (or something like that). This will prevent windows from shutting the wireless down completely.

    Hope it helps.
    Please do not send Private Messages to me with requests for help. I will not reply.

  9. #8
    Linux Guru jmadero's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the advice, still nothing though. A couple notes of why I wouldn't expect some of the fixes to work:

    1. If Windows can alter the ability for Linux to use the driver on my machine through the BIOS (which there are settings) then it would make sense that maybe one computer would have a problem, but the fact that my computer and my girlfriends computer cannot use the Dell 1390 and 1490 with Broadcom chipset made it seem unlikely that it was a BIOS issue. None the less I flashed the BIOS, checked the settings, and all was good.

    2. With the rebooting twice into windows without Linux in between. Again, I could see this happening on one computer but the fact is that my girlfriends machine which is running a different version of Windows (Vista) but has Hardy installed as well experiences the same problem with the card. None the less, I tried booting three times into Windows without going into Linux at all in between and had no luck. No signal at all.

    I'm leaning towards just purchasing an Atheros card but this is a strange problem so I am willing to keep doing small diagnostics to see if we can figure it out.

    Thanks all

  10. #9
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    I never said that the BIOS was bad and that you should update it. It is always risky to update a BIOS, and you should only do it if you need to.

    I just wanted you to enable the wake-on-lan for the device. You may want to uninstall the windows drivers, and remove the card. Then install the card and driver again.
    Please do not send Private Messages to me with requests for help. I will not reply.

  11. #10
    Linux Guru jmadero's Avatar
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    Solved....and this one can go into my list of idiotic things I've done with my computer I suppose.

    First off, sorry waterhead, didn't mean to imply that you said flash the BIOS, I did it at my own risk after looking through the settings and seeing that everything looked okay I flashed just to be sure. I know that it's risky but thanks for pointing it out

    Second, Techiemoe, you were right. I never actually realized that if a computer doesn't have an actual switch it still has hotkeys. I have a hotkey with Fn+F2 that turns off the wireless radio. I booted into windows, installed dell software and saw a big x saying "Radio Off", I enabled it and it gave me a "Your card radio is still off press Fn+F2 to enable"....problem solved


    DOH! Sometimes.....


    Just a side note, I think I would have caught this if the Atheros card wouldn't have worked....but it did....anyone know why that card would work despite the radio being disabled with the hotkey on my computer?

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