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Debian Live - Enabling Wireless

These instructions relate specifically to enabling wireless on a Lenovo T500 laptop when running the LXDE variant of the Debian Live USB/CD/DVD version 8.5.0 (Jessie), but are probably useful for other wireless devices.

Refer to the Wi-Fi page on the Debian wiki for further useful information.

  1. Use the lspci command to identify the wireless card. E.g.

    $ lspci | grep -iE '(wi?fi|wireless|network)'
  2. Visit the DeviceDatabase/PCI on the Debian wiki, and if possible identify the device and appropriate kernel module. If you can't find it there, there may be more information in the Wireless Adapter Chipset Directory

  3. If the firmware is missing from the standard Debian installer, it may be in the 'non-free' section. A set of non-free packages can be downloaded from http://cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/unofficial/non-free/firmware/. Alternatively, the individual package(s) can be downloaded by searching the Debian packages. E.g. http://packages.debian.org/search?keywords=firmware

  4. For the Lenovo T500 we need the iwlwifi package, which should be in the packages included in the firmware download from the previous paragraph, or can be downloaded individually from https://packages.debian.org/jessie/all/firmware-iwlwifi/download. Install using 'dpkg'.

    $ sudo dpkg -i firmware-iwlwifi_0.43_all.deb
  5. Unload and reload the iwlwifi kernel module

    $ sudo modprobe -r iwlwifi
    $ sudo modprobe iwlwifi
  6. Check the network interface now exists for the wireless card and make a note of its name, e.g. wlan0

    $ sudo iwconfig
  7. Run the 'Wicd Network Manager' application (Should be under 'Internet' on the main menu) and select 'Preferences' from its menu (which may be collapsed under a wide 'v' type icon').

  8. In the preferences dialog, select the 'General Settings' tab and enter the interface name found with the iwconfig command under 'Wireless interface' e.g. wlan0. Click 'OK' to close the dialog.

  9. Click 'Refresh' from the Wicd Network Manager main menu. After a short while a list of available Wi-Fi networks should be displayed.

  10. Click the 'Connect' button of the relevant network. You may then be prompted to enter details required for encryption. When you press the 'OK' button the network properties dialog is shown. All-being-well the application will have selected an appropriate 'Encryption' option and all you need to do is enter the correct key or pass-phrase and click 'OK'. Having set the properties, you will need to click 'Connect' again.

-- Frank Dean - 2 Aug 2016

Related Topics: DebianLive, DebianTips, LenovoTips, WirelessTools