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How do I setup my ubuntu on a WiFi network?

I am attempting to set up a wireless network on 11.04, freshly download today. The router is on and working. However, I do not have a wifi "card" (which I am assuming is a little USB-type thing that allows internet access, but correct me if I am wrong) and every time I try to type in the MAC address and everything, nothing works. I also get the "firmware missing" error when I scroll over the signal strength, which I have tried looking up but have been unsuccessful with completely understanding it.

I guess my main question is do I need another little device to be able to use wifi on my ubuntu? I do have an ethernet cable but another person is using it and I do not want to be tied down to that cable.


the problem is that none of the wireless networks show up, however they show up when I go into Windows mode on my laptop. I get an error message at the top saying "firmware missing" which I have tried looking up but still have no straight answer for.

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marked as duplicate by Marco Ceppi Jan 25 '12 at 22:09

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
You need a WIFI card when you want a Wireless connection, there are USB yes, as there are PCI Wireless cards, otherwise you can use the Ethernet port on the PC. –  Uri Herrera May 23 '11 at 0:06
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Did you have another operating system on the machine before installing Ubuntu? Were you able to connect to the internet with that? –  CaseyB May 23 '11 at 0:22

3 Answers 3

Wireless cards come in a few varieties. If your computer is a laptop, you might well have one installed and not know it, as they are often built in to the unit. A desktop computer with a wireless interface will either have an antenna sticking out somewhere (probably the back panel) or a USB device plugged in to it.

In Ubuntu, many if not most wireless devices will work "out of the box". When you left-click on the Network Manager icon in the upper-right corner of the screen (it looks like a series of signal-strength bars or like an ethernet socket) Network Manager should show you a list of networks. At the top will be "Wired Networks", then a list of the connected networks, then a list of available networks, then "Wireless Networks" and another set of lists. If you don't have a wireless device or it is unavailable for some reason, there will be no "Wireless Networks" section.

If you are unsure as to whether you have a functioning wireless device attached to your computer, you can use the commands "lsusb" and "lspci" to show what devices are connected. If you don't understand the output of the commands feel free to post it here and I will interpret it for you. It's pretty straightforward though!

If your investigation shows that you have a connected wireless device, but Network Manager does not show any "Wireless Networks", then there are further issues. If this happens I'll be happy to walk you through the troubleshooting process.

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You can usually connect to the internet by pluging your modem into the usb slot or the ethernet slot. Or you can get an external wifi adapter. 802.11g USB WiFi Wireless Lan Adapter w/5dBi Antenna is a wireless usb device that from my experience is plug and play with Ubuntu 10.10, 11.04.

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Did you try to install firmware packages in your system? Try to connect to the Internet using ethernet connection and install linux-firmware and linux-firmware-nonfree packages. Probably a reboot is needed.

Please, post an output of lsmod somewhere, and I then can tell you what to do more precisely.

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And answer to your question - no, you don't need to buy another wi-fi adapter. By the way, iy you REBOOT from windows to Ubuntu, wi-fi will probably work there too, because windows has already uploaded a firmware in you wi-fi card. –  PocketSam Jun 27 '11 at 4:47

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