Sunday, 27 April 2014

Ubuntu 14.04 LTS on DELL Inspiron 6400 - restoring your network

Now that Microsoft has (finally) pulled the plug, I've helped a couple of people to migrate from XP to Ubuntu. In my most recent project, I thought I'd give the new release of 14.04 a try, just to see if The Register's Scott Gilbertson is right about needing a new PC to run Canonical's latest incarnation of the Ubuntu OS. He's not!

I loaded 14.04 onto a DELL Dimension 5150 that was shipped with XP. This model was released in 2006, so let's be generous and say that this machine is at least five years old. The installation was flawless with all of the hardware properly supported and functioning as expected - boot time is around 70 seconds and the old desktop is responsive and agile with a state-of-the-art operating system! So impressed was I with the look and feel of the new LTS, I thought I'd load it onto the Inspiron 6400.

Unfortunately, this was not so easy!

Running the live DVD was painless enough although I didn't have WiFi (no surprise there!) but, when I installed the system to the hard drive, I had no networking of any kind - that's kind of a deal breaker! After a couple of hours tinkering with the setup, it seemed that the bundled WiFi driver was killing my wired connection on boot, so I removed the driver with:

sudo apt-get remove --purge bcmwl-kernel-source

Rebooting gave me a brief error message that I had no WiFi drivers installed (as expected - I'd just purged them!) but eth0 popped up as if it had never been away! So, now the usual installation of the b43 driver:

sudo apt-get install firmware-b43-installer

A reboot saw my WiFi indicator light up and a wireless connection to my router! I expect the problem to return whenever the kernel is updated, but it should be fairly easy to fix from now on.

Sources &References:


  1. having similar difficulties on Dell inspiron 1501, with new 1Gb memory. 14.04 AMD 64 version loaded, but even with ethernet plugged in, not working.
    trying your suggestions.

    1. Let me know if you don't get any joy: happy to help look for a solution.

  2. I input all the right parameters (sudo apt-get remove --purge bcmwl-kernel-source) and (sudo apt-get install firmware-b43-installer) and now receive "Unable to locate package firmware-b43-installer"...any ideas? Have Dell Inspiron 1501 with new Ubuntu 14.04 install.

  3. If you entered the command correctly, I can only assume that your ethernet is down or that the server was not available.
    You should make sure that you are calling for the correct driver for your wifi card. Open a terminal and type:

    lspci -vvnn | grep 14e4

    We can then determine that you need the b43 firmware.