Today I downloaded the latest version of Ubuntu: 10.10 Maverick Meerkat. I burned both a cd and a dvd (for good measure) of the .iso file. Then I lugged an aging desktop that is not currently using Ubuntu (yes, it uses the “other” operating system!) downstairs and set it up in the kitchen so that I could plug it directly in to my router. You really want a wired connection to the Internet when you go to install Ubuntu. In fact, the new install screens specifically check for this and then give you the possibility of downloading additional software during the installation.
The installation was clean and smooth. I had a slight hiccup initially in getting my PC to boot from the install disc, but once I realized that I was being dim (hey, 6 months between installs and I forget things) everything proceeded in due order. I continued reading a book whilst the computer did what it had to do.
A clean install, however, was not what I was worried about. I’ve done lots of clean installs of Ubuntu over the years. Rather I was concerned about my sadly proprietary usb wireless adapter (a D-Link DWA-130). That was an inexpensive adapter I purchased some time ago when this non-wireless-card desktop moved out of reach of my router. It worked fine in the “other” operating system. But I knew from testing an Ubuntu release on cd a while back that this adapter does not work out of the box with Ubuntu. I would need to sort that out if I was going to be able to use this machine with this wireless adapter up in my office. That, or I would have to go purchase another adapter, checking first this time that I was getting something that was more ecumenical with respect to operating systems. (But oh, I hate to waste money like that!)
First I confirmed that in fact my wireless adpater does not work out of the box with Ubuntu 10.10. Second I did what any good computer hobbyist would do – I turned to Google. A quick search using “ubuntu usb wireless adapter” brought me to Ubuntu’s Docs on Wireless Cards. An excellent start. I took the advice at the top of the page and fired up a terminal window and typed: lsusb. That confirmed two things for me: 1) Ubuntu was in fact seeing my wireless adapter, and 2) the chipset my adapter was using (essential later for downloading the correct driver).
I learned that in order to use this wireless adapter, the best route would be to download the correct driver from the manufacturer, then install Ndiswrapper and Ndisgtk (a helpful interface for those who prefer to visit the command line and not necessarily live there). Where did I get the information on how to do this? From the Ubuntu Docs on Ndiswrapper, of course.
It helps to follow the instructions carefully. Don’t rush things. You will need to revisit the command line at points. For example, I needed to add a line to blacklist.conf in modprobe and that was easily handled via vi. A short bit of testing revealed that my wireless adapter was now working correctly. And this post is evidence of same.
I am looking forward to exploring more of the Maverick Meerkat now that I have an Ubuntu desktop in my office again.