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How to solve internet problems


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There can be problems with wireless internet (most common) and with wired internet (rather rarely). First I'll describe how to deal with the wireless category, and then I'll describe a solution for the wired category.

Wireless internet problems fall into two subcategories: either you have no connection at all, or you have a flaky weak connection. I've described below how to deal with both problems.

No wireless connection at all

1. Below you'll find a roadmap that you can apply item after item, in order to get your wireless network card working. Which will succeed in most cases.

For the sake of clarity: only apply the roadmap as far as is necessary to get your wireless card to function properly. Most people don't need to apply all of the items.

Install a firmware package

1.1. Possibly your wireless network card needs certain firmware. So install a certain firmware package (even if it should have no effect, it can do no harm):

Open a terminal window:

a. Click on the grey Ubuntu logo (Dash home). Query: terminal.
Click on Terminal.

b. Type (use copy/paste to prevent typo's):
sudo apt-get install linux-firmware-nonfree

Press Enter. When prompted, type your password. Your password will remain entirely invisible, not even dots will show, this is normal.
Press Enter again.

c. Reboot your computer.

No avail? Apply the next step.

Broadcom: install the right driver

1.2. When you have a Broadcom wireless card, you should get an automatic alert about the availability of a driver, by a notification in the system tray in the upper panel of your screen (on the right).

However, this driver is often not adequate. This is how you get the right driver:

a. First, establish a temporary internet connection by ethernet cable, a wired connection also.

Click on the grey Ubuntu logo (Dash home). Query: terminal
Click on Terminal.

b. Use copy/paste to transfer the following magical incantation into the terminal:
sudo apt-get purge bcmwl-kernel-source broadcom-sta-common broadcom-sta-source && sudo apt-get install b43-fwcutter firmware-b43-installer

Press Enter. When prompted, type your password. Your password will remain entirely invisible, not even dots will show, this is normal.
Press Enter again.

c. Remove the ethernet cable.

d. Reboot your computer.

Switch the wireless card on

1.3. Maybe the wireless chipset is being recognized by the system allright, and even provided with a driver, but.... it's simply not switched on.

Click on the grey Ubuntu logo (Dash home). Query: terminal.
Click on Terminal.
Type:
iwconfig

Press Enter.

You can then not only see the name for your wireless chipset (for example: wlan0), but also whether it's off. If so, do the following:

- Is your computer a laptop? Then check whether you can enable the wireless chipset by means of a certain Fn key combination.

- If that doesn't help: check on a dual boot machine if it helps when you switch the card on in Windows and then reboot into Ubuntu.

- No avail? Check whether you can set the card in your BIOS / UEFI to "always on".

- No avail again? Then do the following:

Click on the grey Ubuntu logo (Dash home). Query: terminal.
Click on Terminal.
Type:
sudo rfkill unblock all

Press Enter.

Reboot your computer. Your card should be turned on now.

If not, proceed to the next item.

Wireless internet is being blocked by Bluetooth

1.4. This applies only to computers which have a Bluetooth chipset.

On some laptops, wireless internet (wifi or 3G) is being blocked by Bluetooth. In that case, the solution is simple: temporarily disable Bluetooth, by clicking on the Bluetooth icon in the upper panel. Then reboot your laptop. Bluetooth should remain disabled and you should be able to make wifi or 3G connection.

If Bluetooth should be enabled again after reboot, disable it more thouroughly by disabling it in the BIOS of your laptop.

No avail? Proceed to the next item.

Install the wireless Backports modules

1.5. In some cases it helps, when you install the wireless Backports modules. You can do that as follows:

a. First, establish a temporary internet connection by ethernet cable, a wired connection also.

b. Click on the grey Ubuntu logo (Dash home). Query: terminal.
Click on Terminal.

c. For Ubuntu 12.04 you type this command (use copy/paste to avoid errors):
sudo apt-get install linux-backports-modules-cw-3.12-virtual

At this moment (April, 14  2014) these modules aren't available yet for Ubuntu 14.04.

Press Enter. When prompted, type your password. Your password will remain entirely invisible, not even dots will show, this is normal.
Press Enter again.

d. Reboot your computer.

No avail? Proceed to the next item.

Improve backward compatibility

1.6. Install an extra library file to improve backward compatibility for wireless drivers. Sometimes this file, libstdc++5, is enough to get your wireless chipset going.

a. Connect your computer temporarily to the internet by means of an ethernet network cable: establish wired internet.

b. Retrieve and process all available updates.

c. Get it from Debian, as it's no longer available in the Ubuntu repositories:

32 bit:
http://packages.debian.org/squeeze/i386/libstdc++5/download

64 bit:
http://packages.debian.org/squeeze/amd64/libstdc++5/download

Download the .deb file and simply double-click it, just like a .exe file in Windows. It will install automatically.

Then reboot your computer.

No avail? Then proceed to the next item.

Set your router on a fixed wireless channel

1.7. Nowadays most new wireless routers use, by default, a feature called automatic channel switching. Instead of having a fixed wireless channel, which was usual in the past.

This ensures a minimum of interference with the wireless networks of your neighbours. But in a few cases this feature inhibits making a wireless connection in Linux. So set your router to the best fixed wireless channel for you and then try to connect again.

No avail? Then proceed to the next item.

Turn the kernel module acer_wmi off or on

1.8. A certain kernel module, called acer_wmi, causes problems on some laptops. Because it has been loaded when it shouldn't have been, or because it has not been loaded and it should have been.

First the most common situation: the module has been loaded but shouldn't have been.

a. First make sure that you have installed the applications gksu and leafpad:

Click on the grey Ubuntu logo (Dash home). Query: terminal.
Click on Terminal.

Type (or copy/paste):
sudo apt-get install gksu leafpad

Press Enter and submit your password. Please note that the password will remain invisible, not even asterisks will show, which is normal.

b. Then type in the terminal (use copy/paste):
gksudo leafpad /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf

Press Enter.

Now add the following lines to the existing text in that text file, at the bottom (use copy/paste):
# Turn on the wireless card by disabling acer_wmi
blacklist acer_wmi


Save and close the text file.

c. Reboot your computer.

d. No avail? Then undo the operation (remove the added lines from blacklist.conf, and.... reboot your computer again.

e. Now try the opposite: enabling acer_wmi. As follows:

In the terminal:
gksudo leafpad /etc/modules

Press Enter.

Add the following lines to that text file, at the bottom of it (use copy/paste to avoid errors):
# Turn on the wireless card by enabling acer_wmi
acer_wmi


Save and close the text file.

f. Reboot your computer.

g. No avail? Then first undo this operation (delete the added lines in /etc/modules) and.... reboot your computer (this is beginning to look like Windows!).

h. Proceed to the next item.

Use the Windows driver with Ndiswrapper

1.9. Sometimes you can get a wireless chipset to work as follows.

a. Plug in a temporary ethernet network cable and try the Windows driver in a Linux coating: install ndisgtk (Ndiswrapper) by means of Ubuntu Software Center.

b. Afterwards, start Ndiswrapper (the still empty Linux coating) ....and keep the CD with the Windows driver at hand. What you'll want Ndiswrapper to point at, is most likely the Windows XP driver. Probably a file with the extension .inf

c. Then give the wireless card some time to initialize: wait a couple of minutes.

Note: with Ndiswrapper, sometimes you can only connect to unprotected wireless networks or to weakly protected networks (WEP).

(continued in the column on the right)

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Bad wireless connection

2. Another category of wireless internet problems is bad connections. You do have a connection, at least from time to time, but the quality stinks: low speed, unstable or flaky.

Below I'll describe two ways in which you may be able to improve your wireless connection. In many cases this is effective.

Note: when the first method is already succesful, then of course you don't need to apply the second as well (duh....).

Disable power management for the wireless card

2.1. For some wireless chipsets a simple tweak is sufficient for increasing the connection quality a lot. Namely disabling the power management for the wireless chipset. The speed of your wireless internet may then increase also.

You can do that as follows:

a. First make sure that you have installed the applications gksu and leafpad:

Click on the grey Ubuntu logo (Dash home). Query: terminal.
Click on Terminal.

Type (or copy/paste):
sudo apt-get install gksu leafpad

Press Enter and submit your password. Please note that the password will remain invisible, not even asterisks will show, which is normal.

b. Now find out how Ubuntu calls your wireless chipset.

Type in the terminal:
iwconfig

Press Enter.

You can then not only see the name for your wireless chipset (for example: wlan0), but also whether Power Management is on. When it's off, or when no mention is made of Power Management at all, you don't need to do anything.

Note: in the how-to below, I use the example of a wireless chipset called wlan0. Sometimes it's called something else, like eth1. In that case of course you need to adapt the terminal command lines accordingly.

c. Click on the grey Ubuntu logo (Dash home). Query: terminal.
Click on Terminal.

Type (use copy/paste to prevent typo's):
sudo touch /etc/pm/power.d/wireless

Press Enter. When prompted, type your password. Your password will remain entirely invisible, not even dots will show, this is normal.
Press Enter again.

With this, you've created an empty text file called "wireless".

Now copy/paste this line into the terminal:
sudo chmod 755 /etc/pm/power.d/wireless

Press Enter.

This has made the empty text file executable.

d. Now you're going to put a certain text into that empty text file that you've just created.

Copy/paste the following line into the terminal:
gksudo leafpad /etc/pm/power.d/wireless

Press Enter.

Now text editor Leafpad launches with the empty text file "wireless".

Copy/paste the following text into the empty text file "wireless":
#!/bin/sh
/sbin/iwconfig wlan0 power off


e. Save and close the text file.

f. Now close all applications and reboot your computer.

g. Then check in the terminal, by the command iwconfig, whether Power Management for the wireless chipset is off now.

Driver ath9k or ath5k: disable hardware encryption/decryption

2.2. When you have an Atheros wireless chipset and it's running on the ath9k or ath5k driver, then you might have a very slow and/or unstable connection with certain types of those chipsets.

In that case, it may help to disable hardware encryption/decryption on the chipset. All you are doing then, is telling the driver to do the encryption/decryption in the software rather than using the hardware (firmware). This encryption/decryption occurs when using a secured wireless connection that utilizes WPA or WPA2.

Network operations will then consume a bit more CPU power, but otherwise, nothing should be affected. So the "price" you pay is small: only a little extra system load.

You can do this as follows:

Click on the grey Ubuntu logo (Dash home). Query: terminal.
Click on Terminal.
Type (use copy/paste to avoid typo's):
lsmod | grep ath

Press Enter.

If you see the module ath9k or ath5k mentioned in the output, you continue.

Now start root mode. Type (use copy/paste):
sudo -s

Press Enter. When prompted, type your password. Your password will remain entirely invisible, not even dots will show, this is normal.
Press Enter again.

Now copy/paste this line into the terminal:

For the ath9k module:
echo "options ath9k nohwcrypt=1" > /etc/modprobe.d/ath9k.conf

For the ath5k module:
echo "options ath5k nohwcrypt=1" > /etc/modprobe.d/ath5k.conf

Press Enter.

Now close root mode. Type:
exit

And press Enter. Then close the terminal.

Reboot your computer. The connection speed should be alright now.

Realtek wireless chipset

2.3. In case you have a Realtek wireless chipset that often loses connection and runs below its ordinary speed, that chipset probably runs on the buggy driver rtl8192cu. You can install an improved driver like this.

Set your router to "G-only"

2.4. With a few wireless chipsets the connection speed increases enormously, when you set the "Wireless Network Mode" in the configuration of the router with which they connect, to G only.

The price that you pay is that you disable the faster N-mode, but when your internet service doesn't even reach the maximum of the G-mode (as is the case for 90 % of all households), then you lose nothing.

The configuration window of your router can usually be reached as a "web page" in Firefox. Linksys routers have their configuration normally at 192.168.1.1 (type it in the URL bar of Firefox and press Enter).

No wired or wireless internet on a dual boot computer

3. This may be due to a flaw in Windows, which can be repaired easily.

If you have a dual bootable PC with Windows, and you've just used Windows, you may not get an IP address after a reboot in Linux. And so no internet connection.This has the following reason: every network card has a unique MAC address. This address is ingrained in your NIC. The DHCP server in your router remembers this MAC address.

When you access the internet in Windows and then reboot in Linux, in many cases you'll get no IP address from the DHCP server in your router. Because this server will recall that it previously issued an IP address for that very same MAC address, and won't issue a new one.

You can solve this by forcing Windows to release the IP address, before you reboot the PC. By the way: Linux by default does release the IP address on shutdown. So a reboot from Linux into Windows causes no problems.

Tip: Did you forget to force Windows to release the IP address, and you don't want to boot Windows to do it  as yet? Then simply boot Ubuntu twice in a row. After the second boot of Ubuntu you can probably connect.


A. Manual method
1. Open a DOS window in Windows

Windows XP:
Start - Programs - Accessories - Command Prompt

Windows 7:
Start - All Programs - Accessories - Command Prompt
 
2. Type:
ipconfig /release

(note the space between ipconfig and /release)

And press Enter.


B. Semi-automatic method
By means of a shortcut on your desktop, you can apply a semi-automatic solution for this.

1. Open Notepad
Windows XP: Start - Programs - Accessories - Notepad

2. type the following text:
ipconfig /release

3. Save this text file as release.bat and place it on your desktop. Now you can always simply double click this file, before you exit Windows.

As I said, Linux releases the IP address by default on shutdown. So a reboot from Linux into Windows causes no problems.

Want more?

Do you want more tips and tweaks for Ubuntu? There's a lot more of them on this website!


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