[driverloader] ubuntu 6.06 and broadcom wireless adapter

Brian Burch Brian at PingToo.com
Mon Jun 26 17:50:25 EDT 2006

I've been using driverloader successfully with ubuntu breezy for 6 months. I recently installed a new kernel and had to update driverloader to get the wireless adapter to work again. It has been running fine for about 
a month.

2 weeks ago, I upgraded ubuntu to 6.06 and found I needed another version of driverloader to work with the new kernel It downloaded and installed OK.

Since that time, I've suffered from frequent network hangs of 5-15 seconds. I've tried to do some problem determination, but haven't found anything certain yet. I suspect driverloader, but am not convinced and 
wonder whether anyone has any words of wisdom.

The machine is an HP pavillion zv5000. It has an integrated Realtec ethernet adapter as well as the broadcom 802.11b/g. The system runs perfectly on the wired network - the hangs only occur on wireless. The 
machine also has dual-boot winXP and the wireless adapter works fine with the other o/s.

I discovered my linux system was still using the original driver BCMWL5 (funny that driverloader calls it BCM43XX), version dated October 2003. I had upgraded it on WinXP some time ago, and was using 
version, but I didn't have the full package of support files. Yesterday, I downloaded the latest driver package from the HP web site and installed version dated 21 July 2005. It worked fine under 
Windoze and so I installed it under ubuntu. I also re-installed driverloader, just in case you had published a new version in the last 4 days. It didn't make any difference!

The wireless AP is an old and reliable netgear ME102AP that had its last firmware upgrade about 18 months ago. It has always used 64-bit WEP. I've sniffed the airwaves to see whether any of my neighbours have 
recently installed wireless adsl routers, but haven't found any evidence yet... although I realise the range for interference is much greater than the range for good communications.

It is now almost impossible to listen to RealAudio streams from the internet for more than a few minutes on the wireless adapter, although there is no problem via ethernet. I have another windows machine that uses 
an Avaya AP (on a different wireless channel). The two have been working happily and concurrently for over a year (it is a development 802.1x system). I'm sorry to say that I haven't yet reconfigured the second 
machine to use the netgear AP - the last time I did so, it took me ages to get the windoze 802.1x configuration working again and I need it for my own consulting business. RealAudio streams on the second laptop 
and 802.1x are rock-solid.

I believe I have reproduced the problem under MUCH simpler conditions - just an FTP of a large file from a local server experiences very similar hangs, although I can't be certain I'm seeing exactly the same 
symptoms. An ethereal trace of the FTP transfer was very disappointing - it showed the 5+ second delays, but there was no sign of any obvious transmission errors. However, I realise that with WEP enabled, the 
broadcom only needs to mis-decrypt a large incoming packet and ethereal wouldn't have anything to trace - the packet would effectively disappear inside the adapter.

Interestingly, a large FTP from the laptop to the server over the same wireless link is very fast and does not experience any delays. The problem seems to be associated with incoming datagrams only.

Pings seem to get through in either direction with loss or delay, even with large datagrams near the MTU.

No kernel messages are logged during my tests.

Obviously, I could turn off WEP to see whether the symptoms change, but I don't think I have a wep problem because the two AP's have been so stable for so many years, and the broadcom card worked so well 
with ubuntu breezy.

Do these symptoms with ubuntu 6.06 sound familiar to anyone else, or am I on my own with the problem?

Brian Burch

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