HostAP and WPA2 with Intersil Prism card

Dave Neuer mr.fred.smoothie
Wed Dec 13 04:59:45 PST 2006

On 12/13/06, Alex Pounds <alex at> wrote:
> Could I get some more details from you regarding your Debian setup? I too am
> running Debian, and spent last night trying to update my firmware. I'm using
> a 2.6.17 kernel (the kernel-image-2.6.17-2-686 package, I think - this is
> all off the top of my head) and the hostap-utils to provide prism2_srec,
> etc. I've downloaded the latest firmware, but when I try to do a "dry run" I
> get a message that prism2_srec couldn't read the wlan card's PDA, and
> telling me I need to have a certain config option (PRISM2_DOWNLOAD_*,
> perhaps?) enabled in my hostap_config.h. I get the same message if I use the
> -r option to try and pop the firmware in RAM.
> I did presume that the hostap modules didn't have this option enabled, but
> now I'm starting to think it may be something else. Did you have to futz
> around and build your own kernel to get it working, or are you using a
> Debian stock kernel?

I did install the latest kernel from unstable (2.6.18), and modified
the config (you need to select CONFIG_HOSTAP_FIRMWARE and
CONFIG_HOSTAP_FIRMWARE_NVRAM). The former may be selected already in
the previous config (in /boot/config-<your-previous-kernel-version>)
but you need the latter as well.

Once you rebuild, install and reboot the new kernel, you can then run
the prism2_srec utility to flash the card. Note, apparently because of
some inconsistency between the driver, utilities and debian's udev
setup, you will need to explicitly tell prism2_srec where the PDAs are
(e.g., prism2_srec -v eth<n> -O /proc/net/hostap/wlan0/pda <primary
firmware>.hex <station firmware>.hex).

Finally, I was not able to get a stable connection to the AP using the
debian interfaces-based startup -- tried several different ways.
Instead, I used NetworkManager and just started up wpa_supplicant with
"wpa_supplicant -d -g /var/run/wpa-supplicant-global" so
NetworkManager can find wpa_supplicant's control interface, and I can
initiate a connection to the AP that way, and when it (inevitably)
fails, I can toggle the connection with a couple of clicks.

All of this was enough to almost make be go buy a dynex Atheros-based
card for $35. But this is OK for now (I won't be able to download
large files on that machine most likely). Perhaps if I get time, I can
debug the issues w/ wpa_supplicant disconnecting.

Hope that helps,

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