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Wakum Mata!
Politcally Incorrect Musings
Laptop quirks 
29th-Jun-2009 09:50 am
A week ago I upgraded my $50 laptop from Mandriva 2009.0 to Mandriva 2009.1. Doing so hopelessly broke the network. I am missing a piece of software called "nl80211". This piece of software is new to the wireless configuration and settings. It sets the regulatory domain code thus allowing the wireless settings to be fully IEEE compliant.

It is hopelessly broken. Internet searches show this.

I tried recompiling the kernel to eliminate the need for nl80211 support. No help.

I tried to locate the software for download... no go. It is part of another package which, strangely, I have installed.

I decided to give Kubuntu a try. Kubuntu is Ubuntu with the KDE desktop. I used Ktorrent to download the DVD and gave it a try. First warning that something was wrong was that I was unable to burn the DVD using my laptop's drive. It didn't even see blank DVDs. I used an external DVD burner and made my Kubuntu 9.04 install DVD. No go. Even a movie DVD wasn't seen. The drive is broken. Strange, though since CDROMs work fine.

Saturday morning, I hopped online with HP technical support and a new drive will be sent this week, possibly by Wednesday! I am even getting a new keyboard since one of the latches broke. Not a critical thing, but annoying cosmetically. Even if I have to pay $160 for the new drive, it is still WAY cheaper than having to buy a new laptop altogether. However, no mention of payment due was made and I didn't ask. My fingers are crossed that these are free replacements. Silly me, I also forgot to mention to tech support that I bought this thing used and "as is".

Since the DVD didn't work, I burned a LiveCD version and booted. Kubuntu 9.04 is a beautiful piece of work. I really like how the Kubuntu team structured the desktop. KDE 4.2 just looks and operates beautifully! It is better than Mandriva's interpretation, in my opinion. Mandriva's desktop operates more like you'd expect Microsoft Windows to. That will make for an easy transition for anyone "upgrading" to Linux. If you can use Windows, you can use Linux. If you want to just give Linux a try but don't want to install it, a LiveCD is the way to go. Your harddrive will never be touched.

Unfortunately, Kubuntu 9.04 also has a broken wireless interface. Even using iwconfig directly from the command line did not help. Plus, I don't like how the wireless configuration app works. I prefer the Mandriva style. Fortunately, with Linux, I can get what I want, so with a bit of tweaking I can have EXACTLY the desktop I want.

WTF guys? That is TWO major distributions that have flat out BROKEN wireless implementations whereas the previous versions worked GREAT (so says my Internet research). I don't like OpenSuSE or Redhat's Fedora so I won't bother trying those. It looks like I will have to downgrade my OS until the teams get their code straightened out. I am GREATLY looking forward to the NEXT version... Kubuntu 10.04, anyone?

I'll probably be installing Kubuntu 8.04. However, it does have the older KDE 3.x desktop. I'll be booting from the LiveCD just to make sure all is well, first.
1st-Jul-2009 04:06 pm (UTC) - Confirmed.
Kubuntu 8.04 wireless works flawlessly.
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