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This is my first time working with Ubuntu (or Linux), so please be patient.

I am running Ubuntu 12.04-powerpc "Precise Pangolin" on a Mac PowerBook G4 with 1.67GHz processor.

The firmware/driver for the wifi card is missing. For reasons not worth explaining, I cannot physically plug the computer into the network. I have another computer, a MacBook Pro running OSX, from which I can download files and port them by USB thumb drive.

The wifi card in the PowerBook G4 is by Broadcom. The chip is BCM4306, rev. 3. The PCI number is 14e4:4302.

I have downloaded b43-fwcutter_015-14_powerpc.deb and dropped it into the Home folder on the Ubuntu machine. However, it will not install. When I double-click, it opens with Ubuntu SoftwareCenter, but the "Install" button is inactive: I can't click it. There's a message beside the inactive button saying, "An older version of 'b43-fwcutter' is available in your normal software channels. Only install this file if you trust the origin." If I "right-click" the .deb file and open with Archive Manager, it shows me the "DEBIAN" and "usr" folders, but I'm unsure what to do from there...and fairly certain this is not the right way to do things.

Maybe I have the wrong version of b43-fwcutter for my machine/version of Ubuntu?

The documentation for this problem is a mess. It refers to all sorts of out-of-date Ubuntu versions and to an array of different "cutter" and firmware files. Maybe I'd be able to figure this out if I were a more seasoned Ubuntu user, but I have no idea why Sofware Center won't let me do the install. I would be VERY grateful for an explanation of how to get the wifi card working on this machine again. Thank you!

share|improve this question

marked as duplicate by Luis Alvarado Jul 1 '13 at 22:36

This question was marked as an exact duplicate of an existing question.

Edit: You may wish to consult the Ubuntu Wiki on this issue before reading my answer, it's at

It has a clearer solution. I have left my original answer, however please note that the wiki lays it out better than I do.

You have a newer version? I would try to figure out what the version for 12.04 is and download that one instead. If that IS the version, it's because the system hasn't had apt-get update run in a while - since you can't connect to the network, you may need an older version.

You could look into aptoncd as well - this is a way that allows a computer WITH a network connection to serve as a package repository for a computer that doesn't have one - by, say, burning the packages to CD. (There are other options.)

If you need to manually install a .deb file, the easiest way is with gdebi which should still be in the Software Center. Since you can't do that...see below.

You may also want to install synaptic so you can do some things a little more manually. gdebi, apt-get, synaptic, and Software Center all use the same package repositories but allow you to do different things - Software Center is the easiest to use. The thing is you'll need a network connection (or aptoncd on another machine, or you'll have to install the packages manually.)

The reason this method is frowned upon is that you're delving into the sausage factory, and if you don't know what you're doing you can end up with some serious dependency problems and broken packages.

Right-clicking the file with archive manager is easily explained - .deb is an archive format. You could uncompress the file and try to run the contents manually...but...don't. It's not worth the trouble in most cases.

I also suggest a USB-Ethernet adapter, or a USB wireless card with a chipset "known to work" out of the box - Atheros chipsets should work flawlessly. That will at least get you on the network instead of having to play sneakernet.

UPDATE: Still reading? None of those worked? It's time to dive headlong into the sausage factory.

Open a terminal and type this: sudo dpkg -i b43-fwcutter015-14_powerpc.deb

You will most likely get warnings - hell it may not even install, it may want dependencies.

However this is only HALF the problem - you still need the firmware file to have the cutter cut it. Consult the wiki for the proper firmware file for your card.

This is the sort of thing we steer everyone away from here - because it's the sort of thing that was automated so you wouldn't have to do it manually, because it's easy to screw up. You know those whole "oh I spent all weekend recompiling my kernel so my graphics card would work" stereotypes? Yeah, we're trying to avoid those.

I really really recommend borrowing a USB-Ethernet or USB Wireless card with a non-broadcom chipset. It will be thousands of times easier.

share|improve this answer
Hi there, and thanks for your suggestions. Unfortunately they've sailed more or less completely over my head. (As I said, this is my very first time using Ubuntu/Linux, ever.) When you mention synaptic and gdebi, are these ways of installing b43-fwcutter without having to use Software Center? I searched for synaptic and gdebi in the Software Center. Both show up, but the "use this source" buttons for them are inactive. My understanding of apt-get update is that it requires an internet connection, which this computer does not have. No idea what aptoncd is, but it didn't work... – user107831 Nov 13 '12 at 19:27
Okay, I'll try to clarify. – Broam Nov 14 '12 at 13:47

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