Help getting Senao/intersil/prism PCMCIA WiFi wlan0 card working again

G.W. Haywood ged
Fri Jan 5 05:52:51 PST 2007

Hi there,

On Thu, 4 Jan 2007 Daevid Vincent wrote:

> Long story short, I used to use the external modules, then found they are
> depricated and can't seem to get the in-kernel modules to work with 2.6.15+
> I end up with a wifi0 and wlan0ap but no wlan0.
> ...

First and very important, please trim your posts.  My extracts from
your post are trimmed, and can be used as a guide on how to do it.
Google around for instructions on how to trim posts to mailing lists.

If you don't do that AND you grumble a lot:

> All the links are nearly useless:
> *sigh*

instead of giveing terse and useful information, the chances are that
your posts will be ignored.  There are many, many pages Out There with
dead and broken links, out of date and just plain wrong information.
There's little point in griping about them other than to someone who
is in a position to do something about it.  Have you reported these
problems to the maintainers of those pages?

> the page is all kinds of broken.

Hopefully, when you report broken links to maintainers, you would give
some useful information instead of saying "all kinds of broken".

Hopefully, you would say something like "The following links in the
lower part of the column on the left-hand side of the page are broken:

What's New?
Company Profile

You might also say "I have tested all the other links on that page and
they all work fine although it takes quite a while to get the response
from  Of course I know that
this isn't your fault, Mr. maintainer. :)"

> [Someone asked]
> > Have you looked at the documentation for linux wireless tools:
> >
> I keep seeing that page, but nothing useful on there that I can tell.

Then you have only seen it.  You need to read it.  And you need to
read quite a lot of the documents that it points to.  For someone
doing what you're trying to do, it is one of the most useful pages
that you could possibly hope for.

> Eric Johanson (you know him?)


> set this up for me years ago, and it's been working well since then
> until time took it's toll and has now effectively forced me to upgrade.

Could you get Eric to do it for you again?

> [Someone asked]
> > Is the senao card supposed to be a access point or a client to another AP?
> Yes. It's supposed to be the WAP for my home network.

You do understand the difference between and access point and a client?

> > What is the source for your init script?
> In gentoo, each interface is just a symlink to net.lo which is very long...

Hmmm.  It's very long.  That's not very useful information.

> > When you say it doesn't work, what do you mean? Can you not see the
> > wireless ap from another laptop? Have you done any scans? Have you
> > checked the pigtail to make sure its not damaged?
> Well, the short version is that trying to start the wlan0 interface (or
> various renamed versions thereof [wifi0, wlan0ap, etc]) won't start. Mostly
> resulting in "network interface wlan0 does not exist" as shown below in
> previous emails.

Unfortunately the short version doesn't answer the questions.

People will become frustrated if they try to help you and you don't
answer their questions.

> [Someone said]
> > I doubt this is a driver issue as the driver appears to see your
> > card and the interfaces are created.

Actually I think this might be a driver issue.  Or rather an issue of
having too many drivers.  See below.

> I haven't moved anything about the computer. It's a server in my
> home office. It's possible it was dammaged during the power outage,
> but I really don't think that's the case, or I should be seeing
> errors I'd suspect, or no card at all.


> I used to use the hostap packages and linux-wlan packages (ebuilds), then
> recently tried to switch since the hostap packages are depricated in favor
> of the kernel versions as per their website.
> "Note! Host AP driver was added into the main kernel tree in Linux v2.6.14.
> The version in the kernel tree should be used instead of this external
> hostap-driver package. The external releases are only for older kernel
> versions and all the future development will be in the main kernel tree."

Perhaps you misunderstand this.  When they say 'in-kernel' they don't
mean 'not a module'.  There are two different and completely unrelated
concepts here.  One is whether the code for the HostAP driver is in
the kernel tarball when you download it (just like many other drivers,
for example drivers for many multi-serial-port boards and USB devices
are supplied in the kernel) or whether you have to fetch the code from
another place and install it into your kernel.  You might have to
patch the kernel in the latter case and as you are clearly out of your
depth and I would not recommend that you try to do that.  The other
concept is whether you build the driver into the kernel when you build
the kernel, or alternatively you build a 'kernel module' which will be
loaded as and when required by the kernel.  The older versions of the
HostAP driver were supplied as a package which required patching the
kernel.  It is these older versions (which I still run, incidentally)
which are now deprecated.  The newer versions of HostAP are in the
kernel tarball and all you have to do to use them is select the
apropriate options in 'make menuconfig' or 'make xconfig' or however
you build your kernels.

> I have no linux-wlan packages installed anymore either -- should I?

Have you read the the FAQ at
which says

"Q: I'm trying to use the HostAP/orinoco/aironet/wvlan driver and it
   won't work!

	That has nothing to do with the linux-wlan-ng driver.  Go ask
	those responsible for those drivers."?

There's a link to this FAQ from which you
have already mentioned.

> Last night, I compiled all the remotely related "prism" drivers as modules.

Not a good idea.  Find out what you need, and just build that.

Apparently you have the correct hostap options as you have hostap and
hostap_cs loaded:

> And now I see some peculiar things:
> daevid init.d # lsmod
> Module                  Size  Used by
> hostap_cs              61080  0
> hostap                112260  1 hostap_cs
> orinoco_cs             15368  1
> orinoco                41108  1 orinoco_cs
> hermes                  6656  2 orinoco_cs,orinoco
> Why are those orinoco modules being loaded now too?

Because you told them to be loaded.  But you don't want them all, you
want just the hostap drivers.  You can blacklist the drivers you don't
want - I'll leave it to you as an exercise in Googling and reading the
documentation to find out how.  Try "blacklist orinoco" for example.
You could also reconfigure the kernel and rebuild it without them, so
then you won't have to blacklist them and you also won't forget that
you've done it one day. :)

> And in dmesg I see this:
> ...
> eth2: Firmware determined as Intersil 1.4.9
> ...

Your card is working fine, but you don't want this firmware.  It's too
old and buggy.  Try to install 1.7.4 at least.  There are some kernel
options in the 2.6 kernels which you need to select to permit HostAP
to make firmware changes.  My suggestion would be to select only the
option to load RAM firmware, not to attempt to flash the card until
you understand what you are doing a lot better, since you can damage
the card easily if you get flashing wrong.

And please allocate some quality time to reading.



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