Ubuntu – Dell 1390 wireless (BCM4311) Ubuntu 12.04 no wireless icon in unity


I have a Dell Inspiron 1520, which has the Dell Wireless 1390 card (based on the BCM4311 chipset). During installation, Ubuntu 12.04 detected the device and installed the Broadcom STA driver. However, Unity is not showing an icon for the wireless device, so I am unable to connect to any networks. Any ideas what I need to do to get this working?

lspci -v gives the following info

0c:00.0 Network controller: Broadcom Corporation BCM4311 802.11b/g WLAN (rev 01)
        Subsystem: Dell Wireless 1390 WLAN Mini-Card
        Flags: bus master, fast devsel, latency 0, IRQ 17
        Memory at fe8fc000 (32-bit, non-prefetchable) [size=16K]
        Capabilities: <access denied>
        Kernel driver in use: b43-pci-bridge
        Kernel modules: wl, ssb

/proc/net/dev does not contain any entries for the device, however (it just has lo and eth0 listed).

Best Answer

My problem appears to be that in a machine with both a BCM43xx wireless and BCM44xx wired connection, the driver for the wired connection requires the generic 'ssb' module, which grabs the resources needed by both, expecting the final drivers to cooperate with it (?). Unfortunately, broadcom's 'wl' driver (which is the driver I had installed) does not cooperate in the way it expects; only the open-source 'b43' driver is capable of doing this.

This bug seems to be related: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/linux/+bug/197558

A workaround of the same general kind as the one proposed in comment #4 of that bug would presumably have worked for me, but simpler was to switch to using the 'b43' driver rather than 'wl'. To that end, I blacklisted 'wl'. Once that was done, I added 'b43' to /etc/modules, and the 'b43' driver then loaded automatically at startup, and everything worked smoothly.

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