I just spent the evening fighting with a new wireless card in my mother's Dell laptop, which is running Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex... Once I figured out (or rather, remembered) the solution, I felt compelled to blog about it, so here I am.
Recently, I needed a couple of new wireless laptop cards, so I got a pair from eBay for $12 total last week, knowing they'd likely work in Linux but not sure what effort it'd take. Since I couldn't find the info online, I'm blogging it here for others. :) It's Encore ENPWI-G2 802.11g PCMCIA Type II PC Card... They didn't work out-of-the-box with Hardy Heron 8.04, but they are detected & set up automatically by a fresh totally-offline live-CD install of Intrepid in both Xubuntu and Ubuntu. Woohoo!
So where's the problem, you ask?
Upon seeing that the card was detected, I went on up to the wireless notification icon and clicked on it for a list of networks. A nice list of all the neighborhood routers popped up, so I clicked on my own. The icon did the usual little animation to show it was trying to connect, then told me that it had been disconnected. WTF?
I tried again, with the same results. Hmm. Right-clicked on it, picked edit connections, and made sure there was an appropriate entry in the Wireless area. Tried again, no luck. Annoyed, I opened up a terminal window, typed iwconfig in, and verified that the card was in fact properly detected & trying to use the right SSID. Yes, all correct, it was supposedly even connected to the right access point, but I couldn't ping the router or jack else!
This time, I stuck the card in my own laptop, which already has the card's twin set up, to check the hardware angle. (I already knew the Dell's card slot was okay.) The darned thing was immediately detected, accepted by the router & signed on without any intervention or trouble. Put it back in the Dell, and went straight back to the land of the supposed connection that wasn't really there.
I spent a while searching the web using every combination of applicable terms I could come up with -- Ubuntu, wireless, ap, dns, you name it. No luck. I clicked up on the wireless icon again, then decided (recalling this might have been what worked last time) to pick connect to hidden wireless network and give it my router's SSID. It showed the animation very briefly, connected, and had no problem automatically reconnecting after that. On my laptop, which was originally set up that way several days ago now, it has had no problem connecting on its own since then, either.
Now, the thing that makes no sense here is that not only is my router set to broadcast its SSID for all to hear, the card was seeing it just fine. I remember now that there had been one entry in a discussion forum (I'm not sure which) where somebody with the same situation but another card was given the above advice, with the same kind of inexplicable success. Hopefully this won't be a problem in Jaunty or future releases -- and considering I have another wireless adapter (this one USB) to set up, I hope that goes a lot more smoothly as well.