Thursday, April 2, 2009

Acer Aspire One, Ath5k, and Ubuntu 9.04

In my last post about the Acer Aspire One (AA1) and Ubuntu 9.04, I mentioned that everything was working in Ath5k land. In retrospect, that post did gloss over a few details, so I thought I'd put up a special AA1 / Ubuntu 9.04 / Ath5k post to clarify a few things.

First off, in a fresh install, it probably just works. Maybe. Maybe not. I have not tried it yet. The AA1 I have started as Alpha 6, and has been doing near daily dist-upgrades to pick up new service along the way. As it pertains to the Ath5k module, new kernels and kernel modules. is where I am at right now on the AA1. I saw a new kernel come down on a different test box earlier today, so I need to update again.

Previously on the AA1, under Mint, I was using ndiswrapper to get the wireless going, and when I first got the Ath5k stuff going there were a few tricks to it. First, I had to turn *off* ndiswrapper of course. That was easy: I have installed ndisgtk, so in the GUI, I just removed the driver. Same thing as 'sudo ndiswrapper -r net5416' at at command line

At that point, I could *not* see the wireless any more. This is because of the module 'acer_wmi'. The only problem acer_wmi causes on the AA1 is in the ability of Linux to see the Ath5k... but that is bad enough. A netbook without WIFI is not doing what it is supposed to be doing.

If you read through that bug, it says that the very latest kernel has the patch required to fix this rfkill issue. Will try and update this in a bit.

In the meantime: Simple solution is to blacklist it in /etc/modprobe.d. One line file:

steve@kara:/etc/modprobe.d$ more blacklist-acer-wmi
blacklist acer_wmi

You could also just rmmod acer_wmi, and then 'modprobe ath5k' but blacklisting makes acer_wmi stay out between boots.

Ubuntu 9.04 with ath5k on the AA1 is a lovely thing. Wifi recovers from standby without any issues so far. Under Mint/ndiswrapper about 1 out of every 10 time the WIFI would go away some place, and require severe measures to get it back. It also seems to be faster finding and syncing with WAP's now.


It's working. Mostly

I did an 'sudo apt-get update | sudo apt-get -y dist-upgrade' and a new kernel came down: 2.6.28-11.39. if you were to look with 'uname -a' you'd think this was the same kernel, since uname drops the '.39'. Have to do a 'dpkg -l | grep -i 2.6.28-11' or something similar to see what is installed. I then erased my blacklist of the acer_wmi in /etc/modprobe.d (see above)

After the service I rebooted, and it still did not work. I manually did a 'modprobe ath5k', and it started working. puzzled, I looked in /etc/modprobe.d and wondered if the ndiswrapper file there was interfering. I did not put it there: Pretty sure it was created when I installed ndiswrapper. I deleted it (sudo delete /etc/modprobe.d/ndiswrapper) and rebooted.

Instant success. Even see the hidden wireless where I am right now.

The wireless blinking LED is not lit though. Not sure why, and don't really care right now. That is a problem for another day. I am just happy to have the Acer_wmi loading so I can see if that makes a difference in how much the fan runs.


Capridyne said...

I'm glad you have it working... but I would be interested in seeing if it would work with packet injection tools like aircrack-ng. Mine barfs quickly after a high load.

I've tried switching to the proprietary madwifi drivers, but then the wifi just disappears all together.

A note though on the wireless led, per The Ubuntu Aspire One page, installing the "linux-backports-modules-jaunty" package should solve that, although specifically why I don't know.

Cheers and good luck!

Steve Carl said...

I don't use the Acer for Wardriving or even portable network diagnostics since it is my personal unit, not a work device. The Netbook form factor would be perfect for that though! Just install Wireshark and it is perfect in the network toolbox. I would probably rather actually read the traces on a bigger screen later though....

In any case, for blogging / tweeting / emailing / surfing I have never crashed the Wifi. I can say that the WAP signal aquisition has improved. I leave mine in standby most of the time, and when I flip it open, it is now *much* faster at finding the WAP than it used to be.

Yeah: I tried the proprietary madwifi stuff from the System/Administration/Hardware Drivers briefly but that did not work in the short effort I gave it.

You are 100% correct about 'backports' making the Wifi LED begin to work. Thanks!

Jake said...

Having just purchased an Acer Inspire One ZG8 I read all this with much interest. I have installed Ubuntu Jaunty and experienced all the joys of getting WIFI to work, blacklisting acer_wmi did the trick for me. But in my case, installing the jaunty back port modules has not got my LED working :(

bluetooth headset said...

Well that was amazing!I was not aware of this information and now i will share it with my friends.I'll be keeping a close eye on your blog and looking forward to each new post.

Steve Carl said...

Thanks: I hope it helps, although that post is old enough now that I can say with certainty that any current version of Ubuntu or Mint will work on the Acer without any messing around. Same thing is true for the Dell Mini 9 / Vostro A90.

Anonymous said...

dont be too sure, i just installed mint 8 with all its updates today, and still no wireless on this aspire one 8gb..

Steve Carl said...

Mint 8 should work if your unit still has the Atheros card. I just test Mint 8 and Atheros last night on a Dell, and it worked very well. I am less sure about Broadcom, and the reason the Dell had the Atheros was that the internal Broadcom was *not* working. Any chance that the Acer hardware platform has changed?