Ubuntu – Cannot connect to wireless network


I am quite new to using Ubuntu 12.10. All I remember while installing Ubuntu 12.10 was that I didn't check any box specifically to enable wireless connectivity.

I tried looking into the various questions posted here – most of them refer to certain commands (redundantly sudo) and things of that sort. I am quite new and wasn't sure of understanding what those commands were trying to do (the network configuration settings – showed up different options, like 'Wireless', 'Wired', 'IPv4', 'IPv6' etc — I am not sure of what sort of settings are to be made – like for example what sort of 'WEP' settings etc are to be made.

Although I wasn't able to connect to the wireless network, I was able to connect to the internet, once I plugged in the ethernet cable.

Can someone help me with:

  1. Understanding a way to see if Ubuntu is configured to connect to a wireless network.
  2. If so – Getting to configure to a wireless network (setting up a new one).
  3. Where in ubuntu, should I look for seeing if there are any hardware devices (such as the Broadcom wireless adapter or things of that sort – like the way we use the 'Device manager' in Windows to look into the adapter settings).
  4. Reference material to learn and understand the various ubuntu commands. (things like the lshw etc).

Best Answer

Generally, you needn't do any configuration at all. If a wireless device has an appropriate driver associated with it, Network Manager will see it and announce that there are available networks and then invite you to click the icon and select your network and connect. We suspect, based on your question, that a driver is needed but missing. When a driver and hardware associate, a wireless interface is created. You can check with the terminal command:


If there is no wireless interface, it will look something like:

eth0      no wireless extensions.
lo        no wireless extensions.

In plain language, there is no wireless interface. Another useful command asks for a list of all hardware and may be filtered to only show network devices:

lshw -C network

It will not reveal much useful, except what you probably already know: driver=none or similar.

There is an Additional Drivers utility that works primarily for display drivers and some Broadcom network cards. Because manufacturers are building and selling newer devices every day, it is a struggle for kernel developers to keep up.

The fastest easiest method I suggest is to ask for a listing of PCI devices and filter to devices in the class 280; wireless.

lspci -nn | grep 0280

The pipe symbol | is on the right side of my US keyboard on the same key with . When you have the informative eight-digit identifier, something like 8086:4239 or some such, you can search this site or ubuntuforums.org for a method to install the driver. Of course, you can post it here and we can help you. If your wireless device is USB, then the command is:


It would be wonderful if there was a built-in utility that found a driver for everything and installed it immediately. However, in addition to the speed with which manufacturers produce new devices without Linux drivers, a number of drivers and firmware files are partially proprietary. Ubuntu, as shipped, is completely free and open source so no proprietary pieces are included.

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