Kubuntu + Dell Vostro + Wireless Networking = *headdesk*

I bought a new, old computer — a Dell Vostro 1310 — on which to play around with Linux today. Here are the things I’ve learned:

  • I am not sure the processor in this notebook is a 64-bit processor (it’s an Intel Core 2 Duo…but I don’t know which series, or whether that matters. I am not a hardware person). I eventually gave up after the installer crashed a couple times at critical junctures and I am having better results with the 32-bit version of Kubuntu.
  • Telling the BIOS to boot from CD/DVD or SD card reader or USB device in order to start the installation process really didn’t work all that well. Google was my friend on this one; someone out there reported better results after a cold boot. I think that’s what finally worked for me, too.
  • There’s a dreaded Broadcom wireless card in here. I’ve struggled with those for so many years now, and I’m not alone in that, so I am kind of surprised that it’s still such a big hassle to get wireless networking actually working in this day and age. In the end, I gave up, too. I couldn’t make the WLAN in my apartment work on Channel 13 with this network card. I kept seeing other networks in and near our building, but never ours. Some Googling revealed that others had similar symptoms, and that you can use sudo iwlist chan at a command prompt to see what channels are available. I tried proprietary drivers. I tried generic drivers. I didn’t mess with any kernel modules (like I used to have to do, the last time I had Linux running on a laptop). So since I could only get the card to acknowledge Channels 1 through 11, I just switched our network over to one of those instead of fighting with it any longer, and I guess it’s all hunkey-dorey now.

Still don’t know what I’d do, however, if there were a compelling reason to use Channel 12 or 13. I wonder if this is the same problem other guests were having with their smartphones last summer while visiting us.