Amilo M7440G and Wifi on (K)Ubuntu 11.10

 

I recently decided to fix my old Amilo M7440 laptop for my mother as an entry point into the world of mobile computing. A couple of months ago I started to experiment around with Linux and found it fascinating how easy usage and management of this operating has become since I last used it back in what-must-have-been-at-least-2002, so I was convinced that this would make a good alternative to use it instead of any old Microsoft OS out there. Everything went smooth during and after the installation of Kubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot) … at least until I wanted to access a wireless network.

Kubuntu Ubuntu Logo

No matter what I tried I couldn’t receive any signal by any wireless network what so ever. In fact the KDE’s NetworkManager even insisted that there was no wireless connection at all. I had similar problems before on other laptops and usually restarting the NetworkManager by using a Konsole did the trick. Not so this time however. Also everything seemed to be just fine with the driver for the wireless network adapter. After doing some research I found this handy little command giving me detailed information on all available network adapters of the system:

sudo lshw -C network

This spat out the following report, which finally gave me a clue of what was wrong:

*-network:0
       description: Wireless interface
       product: PRO/Wireless 2200BG [Calexico2] Network Connection
       vendor: Intel Corporation
       physical id: 1
       bus info: pci@0000:06:01.0
       logical name: eth1
       version: 05
       serial: 00:15:00:15:f1:0b
       width: 32 bits
       clock: 33MHz
       capabilities: pm bus_master cap_list ethernet physical wireless
       configuration: broadcast=yes driver=ipw2200 driverversion=1.2.2kmprq firmware=ABG:9.0.2.6 (Mar 22 2005) latency=32 link=no maxlatency=24 mingnt=3 module=ipw2200 multicast=yes wireless=radio off

Note the “wireless=radio off” part. It seems that the switch allowing you to manually enable the wireless adapter on the Amilo M7440G needs a special kernel module fsam7440 to properly work, which is not being distributed with the generic kernels. Without it, all the button pressing in the world will not allow you activate the adapter. As it seems an older version fsam7400 used to be shipped with the generic linux kernel until Oneiric, but has now been excluded as well.

From this point on I found two paths to finally fix the problem. This post gives some instruction on how to compile and add the fsam7440-module yourself. I tried this solution on my machine and it did not work out for me, due to dependency issues. Although I used an older set of instructions on how to do so than the ones in the above linked post, so you might still give it a try. Thankfully, I stumbled upon a far easier solution for the problem on Oneiric afterwards: This binary package by Sebastian and after several hours of researching and trying it finally worked. The button still doesn’t work, but at least your wireless adapter will work properly.

*-network:0
       description: Wireless interface
       product: PRO/Wireless 2200BG [Calexico2] Network Connection
       vendor: Intel Corporation
       physical id: 1
       bus info: pci@0000:06:01.0
       logical name: eth1
       version: 05
       serial: 00:15:00:15:f1:0b
       width: 32 bits
       clock: 33MHz
       capabilities: pm bus_master cap_list ethernet physical wireless
       configuration: broadcast=yes driver=ipw2200 driverversion=1.2.2kmprq firmware=ABG:9.0.2.6 (Mar 22 2005) latency=32 link=no maxlatency=24 mingnt=3 module=ipw2200 multicast=yes wireless=radio off*-network:0
       description: Wireless interface
       product: PRO/Wireless 2200BG [Calexico2] Network Connection
       vendor: Intel Corporation
       physical id: 1
       bus info: pci@0000:06:01.0
       logical name: eth1
       version: 05
       serial: 00:15:00:15:f1:0b
       width: 32 bits
       clock: 33MHz
       capabilities: pm bus_master cap_list ethernet physical wireless
       configuration: broadcast=yes driver=ipw2200 driverversion=1.2.2kmprq firmware=ABG:9.0.2.6 (Mar 22 2005) latency=32 link=no maxlatency=24 mingnt=3 module=ipw2200 multicast=yes wireless=radio off