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Hi, I decided to take on the project of trying to achieve wireless internet connectivity on an old laptop. I decided that a cheap cardbus card would be the only ...
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  1. #1
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    Cardbus wireless on old laptop (Gateway Solo 9100)


    Hi,

    I decided to take on the project of trying to achieve wireless internet connectivity on an old laptop. I decided that a cheap cardbus card would be the only reasonable choice since this computer has USB 1.0 ports and no ethernet connector.

    There are 256 MB of memory installed and the specs of the machine are at support.gateway.com/s/Mobile/Solo_Series/P91tvd/P91tvd02.shtml (it won't let me post URL's because I haven't made enough posts here).

    I decided to go the Linux route since so many wifi cards do not have drivers for Windows 98 which is what was installed on this machine (some start at Windows 98se others at Windows XP). In particular, I decided I needed to go with a "lightweight" distribution.

    I found that they are a bunch out there that claim to fit the bill (though not all actually do --namely, any newer Ubuntu derivative seems to have trouble with very low memory configurations).

    I got a Trendnet TEW-421PC card which is based on a Realtek chipset. It seemed to work on Puppy Wary 5.2 (and later other distros such as Slitaz) but only very, very inconsistently. Sometimes it would not even allow Puppy to boot. Most often when I tried to set it up it would seem to freeze the OS. I later found out that the OS was not truly frozen and the responsiveness would be restored by pulling out the card.

    The same sort of behavior repeated in other lightweight distros.

    I figured that there was simply something wrong with the card and got a different card. This time it was a D-Link DWA-642 which should be able to run with the ath9k driver. Again, it worked extremely inconsistently (depending on the distro) and though it did not behave exactly the same way I was also able to reproduce the behavior where the OS seems to have totally crashed but will go back to normal as soon as the card is removed.

    Seeing that this is happening with two very different cards I no longer feel that I can blame it on the cards. I will also note that I have tried them both on a different computer (a Dell Latitude D630) and they both seem to work there.

    I would love to know what is going on here.

    I would also love to know if there is some setting (maybe relating to PCMCIA or IRQ handling or whatever) which one might be able to tweak to stop this behavior.

    Any help will be greatly appreciated.

    TIA,
    August Pamplona

  2. #2
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    Having owned and used a wireless pcmcia card on old laptops.

    On some old laptops the pcmcia slots are 16 bit and don't like 32 bit newer wireless cards in the slot. That could be causing the hardware freeze. I am suprised they worked at all if it is a 16bit card slot. You will have to google the specs on that old laptop and look to see if I am right.

    On those 16bit laptops I owned. A older 16 bit NetGear MA401 wireless B pcmcia card with a orinco chip was what I used back then. I have since sold most of my older laptops. I keep my old IBM A22M though but it uses a 32bit pcmcia card.

    Edit: the old laptop I am talking about was a

    Yet Another Technology Site: Damn Small Linux 4.0 install on Compaq 1540DM

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by rokytnji View Post
    On some old laptops the pcmcia slots are 16 bit and don't like 32 bit newer wireless cards in the slot. That could be causing the hardware freeze. I am suprised they worked at all if it is a 16bit card slot. You will have to google the specs on that old laptop and look to see if I am right.
    Looking at the specs, it calls it a "Cirrus CLPD-6832 with Zoomed video and 32-bit Cardbus support interfaced to the PCI bus". Not sure what "Zoomed video" has to do with it. So it looks like a 32 bit interface.

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  5. #4
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    Yeah, looks to be capable of using

    PCMCIA Type III or two Type I or II card socket
    So the cards should be OK in it. I don't know how to

    Code:
    I would also love to know if there is some setting (maybe relating to PCMCIA or IRQ handling or whatever) which one might be able to tweak to stop this behavior.
    What I might try for a OS on it would be one of these puppies to see if freeze goes away and see if they should run OK I think on 256MB of ram on that older Compaq. I would make a 700MB /swap Partition though to ease the strain.

    Puppy Linux Discussion Forum :: View topic - Classic Pup 2.14X -- Updated 2 series

    Debian Lightweight Desktop Live cds

    Semplice

    CrunchBang Linux - A nimble Openbox Linux distro

    http://antix.mepis.org/index.php?title=Main_Page

    I prefer Debian base to Ubuntu based because Debian has just as much to offer as Ubuntu when it comes to applications and just works for me. If thinking of building your own lightweight Ubuntu from scratch to keep the ram profile low and cpu cycles down.

    Ubuntu Minimal Desktop Installation Guide - a knol by Denny Halim

  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by rokytnji View Post
    Yeah, looks to be capable of using



    So the cards should be OK in it. I don't know how to

    Code:
    I would also love to know if there is some setting (maybe relating to PCMCIA or IRQ handling or whatever) which one might be able to tweak to stop this behavior.
    What I might try for a OS on it would be one of these puppies to see if freeze goes away and see if they should run OK I think on 256MB of ram on that older Compaq. I would make a 700MB /swap Partition though to ease the strain.

    Puppy Linux Discussion Forum :: View topic - Classic Pup 2.14X -- Updated 2 series

    Debian Lightweight Desktop Live cds

    Semplice

    CrunchBang Linux - A nimble Openbox Linux distro

    antix.mepis.org/index.php?title=Main_Page

    I prefer Debian base to Ubuntu based because Debian has just as much to offer as Ubuntu when it comes to applications and just works for me. If thinking of building your own lightweight Ubuntu from scratch to keep the ram profile low and cpu cycles down.
    My comment with regard to Ubuntu derivatives is because I started out with only 64 MB of memory on it and they consistently failed to load (maybe they would work now with 256 MB of memory but I took it a a sign to avoid them even if they might just work now). I kept going back to older & older versions & I stopped at stuff based on 9.x.

    I'm assuming you are suggesting that Puppy over the new Wary due to the older kernel?

    I have not tried Semplice 0r CrunchBang. I'll see if I can give them a try. I did try Antix.

  7. #6
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    I'm assuming you are suggesting that Puppy over the new Wary ahdue to the older kernel?
    Yeah. Tuxx keeps it current though with new applications and it was designed with older laptops in mind. Edit: If you have the time. Read all 300+ pages of the thread to get a idea of what I am talking about.

    When lupu first came out. It would not boot on my IBM a22m. So I went with Puppy Dingo instead. It worked real well after I massaged it a little and I ran it for quite some time. All my gear is wireless so I have to experiment till I get what I need to work.

    AntiX runs on it full time now. Sorry AntiX did not work out for you.
    Last edited by rokytnji; 12-06-2011 at 06:10 PM.

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