BCM43xx Wireless driver on Linux

Originally posted July 17th, 2007:

I have a Compaq Presario V3010CA which has a broadcomm wireless chipset. To be more precise lspci lists the particular card as:

Network controller: Broadcom Corporation Dell Wireless 1390 WLAN Mini-PCI Card (rev 01)

For the past year I have been using ndiswrapper which sort of works, I can connect to base stations but if I need to switch access points, then I had to rmmod ndiswrapper && modprobe ndiswrapper to remove and reload the driver. Also, I could not get kismet (wireless sniffing/mapping util) to work with the ndiswrapper driver. This makes sense if you think about it since ndiswrapper is a wrapper around the Windows driver which usually does not have the code for monitor mode in it.

It seems that recent kernels have support for this wireless chipset now (I have tested on a vanilla 2.6.22). The only problem is that the card requires firmware to be loaded every time it is initialized. On my Kubuntu install the following command downloaded and configured the firmware for me. All one has to do is reboot (or rmmod bcm43xx && modprobe bcm43xx)

sudo aptitude install bcm43xx-fwcutter

If you are not running a flavour of Ubuntu or Debian do a google search for the following along with your distro (ie. Fedora, Mandriva etc.). bcm43xx_microcode5.fw