After work and much ridicule from a coworker over this Ubuntu mess, I come home to play some more on this wireless mess. I was even somewhat leaning towards giving the firmware cutter stuff a try. After all, it is just a card, right? I could get another miniPCI card in a pinch, right?
I looked at dmesg and syslog but there were few mentions of the card. So back to research… Lo, the BCM4312 I thought was supported was actually 14e4:4312 when what I have is a 14e4:4315 which is “in progress”. WTF does that mean? Without a date on the page, how do I know how long ago that was?
Now, purely farting around I clicked the Network Tools to turn off the wired connection only to see a list of wireless networks. It was easy to setup the network and get online.
So far into the story, I tried repairing Windows Vista which failed to actually give me a working entry into the operating system. The Linux Live CDs were non-committed forays into Knoppix, CentOS, and Ubuntu. All failed to turn on the wireless. An ethernet cord would have gotten me online.
So I was stuck with pretty much a brick.
My next step was to venture out to the store and buy a hard drive. The Ubuntu CD included an installer, so I used it to install a local copy. Continued research revealed my problem probably was the fact my computer came with a Broadcom 4312 card. (My brother said my problem was trying use wireless with Linux.)
Without an ethernet connection, I ended up installing Linux STA drivers from source by downloading them and transferring them by FTP. No good. Multiple times. I never got it to recognize them. Other options called for installing a firmware update on the wireless card. The idea of a firmware update to the wireless card making me stuck on Linux worries me.
Thankfully I got home to where I have ethernet cords. By this point, I had so completely hosed things, so I reinstalled Ubuntu to start over fresh. Now seeing the Internet through the LAN, Ubuntu offered me “restricted” hardware drivers. The b43 set didn’t do anything. The STA set did enable the Wireless option. Even dhclient referenced eth2! However, the wifi status light doesn’t turn on when I enable wireless. Ugh. So the drivers work better but not enough to get it working.
Also, (based on the time stamp of the file I was able to find in a backup of the problem laptop) I haven’t connected a computer to my home network since February, so I didn’t remember what was the password for the network. Finding which computer or external drive contained the information took a few hours. Yay for backups.
For about a week now I’ve been without my personal laptop as anything much more than a brick. I think tonight I am going to copy off the pictures and other important information to my desktop. From there, anything I do to make the situation worse will no longer matter as much.
Monday night, I shutdown the laptop. Microsoft Vista Automatic Updates said it was working on some updates post-logout. Rather than babysit, I went to bed. I should have babysat it.
The next morning, Tuesday, starting the computer told me I had a corrupted or missing \boot\BCD. The Boot Configuration Data file is pretty important, as without one the Windows operating system doesn’t even give me a command prompt. After some research I found out I needed my Windows installation DVD only 250 miles away. This caused me so much distress I even forgot I had a spare computer with me.
So I decided to download a Linux Live CD and use that while stuck away from home. At least I would be able to research the problem and possibly fix it later. The first Live CD I tried was a downloaded iso flavor called Knoppix, I remembered from many years ago. Ick. Knoppix Adriane is intended for the visually impaired slipped by me, so the computer reading everything got annoying extremely quickly. Finally turned off the reading stuff, but I had a new problem. Wireless wasn’t working.
… And I was out of CD-Rs.
So a newer memory was a few years ago, a friend with a barely functioning Macintosh LC III (pictured right) wanted to get her stuff off it. She brought it up again a few times since, the most recent occasion to ask me to explain why her Windows computer cannot just read 3.5″ floppies from the Mac without any computer-ese. A coworker mentioned a Live CD of CentOS could mount the drive and transfer the data.
So, I downloaded an iso of the CentOS Live CD while I went to the store to get some disks to burn. While starting up CentOS, I downloaded Ubuntu just in case this second Live CD failed. It was a good thing because the CentOS Live CD was prettier without any improvement in getting on the wireless.
Nor was the Ubuntu Live CD any better.
By this point, I had found a site offering a torrent to a Vista Recovery CD. The quandary was to go back to Windows or stick with Linux. The recovery CD off a random web site could just not work or at worst infect the non-functioning computer. So I installed BitTorrent and downloaded the recovery CD. I tried the Startup Repair, System Restore, and Command Prompt (to manually rebuild the booter). Since this failed, I decided Windows Vista was dead.
So I started looking into how to make Ubuntu work for me.