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March 17th, 2009

wireless drivers ...

Well, I finally got sick of being tethered to the router.

The wireless cards I have tend not to work really well with my work laptop. I think it has something to do with the WPA2 encryption I use not working with WinXP SP2 on my (work) laptop. I have a feeling that SP2 doesn't support WPA2 properly, or at least not on my laptop.

I eventually got my wireless card working, a Dlink GWL-G630 rev E PCMCIA card. The "latest" driver on Dlink's website is at least 3 years old, and doesn't support WPA2. Fortunately Ralink (the card uses a Ralink RT256x chipset) provides some excellent support for all platforms, including the latest drivers and utilities for Windows.

I first tried to get Jess's PCMCIA card set up. It's a Belkin F5D7010au rev 1xxx card (believe me when I say all those extra bits on the name actually matter on Belkin's website), which uses a Broadcom 43xx chipset. This is interesting because my linux laptop uses a so-called 4318 chipset (which is actually the pci device id of the chipset).

A while back I got frustrated searching for the latest Windows driver for this chipset (Broadcom 4318 - the files are named bcmwl5.sys/inf). Broadcom make a point of not releasing "generic" drivers, instead leaving it to the card manufacturers to bundle the latest versions. Most manufacturers are like Dlink above, only posting the most archaic drivers on their website ("But they're tested and compatible" they say! phah!) It turns out HP use Broadcom chipsets for quite a lot of their laptops. Finding the drivers for them on the website is pretty hit and miss.

Helpfully, HP still maintain Compaq's "Softpaq" repository. Who knows what sort of bizarre dewey-decimal system is used in there. In any case, I figured out a way to burrow out the latest version of the driver in there. I posted here about how to do it. It helps that for a lot of drivers in there, they add a text file with a heap of details, including which driver its superseding.

I know its a lot of explanation on doing something that really, really, is not that important. And it may have taken about eight hours to download and sift through all that stuff ... but I just wanted to post about it. Kind of a reminder to myself :p


Steve P
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