This answer is based on an extensive research done by various Ubuntu users that worked together in almost all issues related to Broadcom. Special thanks to chili555 who helped in the Ubuntu forums and on this site with many questions related to Wireless devices and to others who have contributed through E-Mail, chats, IRC and more in testing various drivers with several of the most popular Broadcom Wireless cards (Huge Thanks to Chili555 really. This guy knows his stuff).
In total we wanted to offer an answer that could be easy to follow and covered most Broadcom Cards / Drivers. After you follow this guide, you will NEED to test your wireless connection for at least 2 hours (I actually recommend 8 hours) with another device in either Ad-Hoc Mode, Infrastructure Mode or Both. Common problems that will be solved (Apart from drivers not installing) are:
- Connections timeout after several minutes or hours
- Stops searching for other devices (Does not see any other device)
- Keeps asking for password even on cases where AP does not have any
- Stops any receiving/transmitting traffic (Needs reboot to temporarily fix)
- Crashes system with dmesg errors in log (Link 1 Below)
- System freezes completely (You can only press Reboot/Power button) (Link 1 Below)
- Creates huge log reports trying to correctly configure or connect
- Fails when installed via Additional Drivers / Additional Hardware (Link 3 Below)
- Connects and disconnects continuously every X amount of seconds
- Appears connected on Network Manager but does not receive Internet
- Tries to connect many times without correctly finishing connection
- Takes too long to connect
- After upgrading from a previous version (eg: 12.04 to 12.10) it stops working
- Wireless card does not turn on, enable or disable (Link 2 Below)
- Wireless card blocked by hardware
- More problems found in Launchpad, Ubuntu Forum and Askubuntu
Link 1 - https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/linux/+bug/1060268
Link 2 - https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/bcmwl/+bug/732677
Link 3 - Gives an error similar to "Sorry, installation of this driver failed."
So with that in mind, the following is what we have right now which is simplified in just 3 steps:
1. Knowing what Broadcom Wireless Card you have
There are dozens of Broadcom wireless cards and more seem to appear every day. The key to finding the correct driver for any network card is what is known as the PCI ID (PCI.ID). To find out which PCI.ID you have, we proceed to opening the terminal by pressing CTRL+ALT+T (It should open a window with a blank background) and inside this terminal we run the following command:
lspci -nn -d 14e4:
You will get something like the following if you have a Broadcom Wireless Adapter (The ID 14e4 used in the example above in most cases is a Broadcom Wireless Card):
Broadcom Corporation BCM4306 802.11bgn Wireless Network Adapter [14e4:4320] (rev 03)
The PCI.ID in this example is 14e4:4320 as seen inside the Brackets [...]. In some cases you will also need the revision version (if it appears) for some special cases. In this case, the revision version is rev 03 as shown inside the Parentheses (...) at the end. So what you will need after this search is:
[14e4:4320] (rev 03)
With this new information you can look in the table below and select the appropriate method to install your driver. For example, In this case, since you have the 14e4:4320 rev 03, if we go down the list to the one that shows the exact same PCI.ID you will see that in the columns for Ubuntu 12.04, 13.10 or 14.04 it shows the
linux-firmware-nonfree package driver. This means that you will only have to install this particular package since it appears in all Ubuntu version columns.
NOTE - Before proceeding, if you have previously installed any drivers, have blacklisted or uncommented any driver files or configuration files or have done any changes whatsoever to the system to make the drivers work in previous attempts, you will need to undo them in order to follow this guide. We assume you are doing this from scratch and have not changed any configuration files, modules or drivers in the system in any way (apart from updating the system). This includes any installations using apt-get, aptitude, synaptic, dpkg, software center or manual compilation and installation of the packages. The system has to start from scratch in order for this to work and to avoid any conflicts that may appear if earlier work was done.
For example, if you have previously installed the
bcmwl-kernel-source package, you will need to remove it by using the purge method:
sudo apt-get purge bcmwl-kernel-source
2. Preparing the System
If you have just installed Ubuntu, you will need to build an index of available packages before we can install your driver if you have not done so already:
sudo apt-get update
I would even go so further as to update the Ubuntu list of PCI.IDs:
Just in case the ID of a particular new Broadcom Device you are using has just appeared.
Now using the PCI.ID you found in the steps above, we then search in the list below to find the matching PCI.ID and the method to install the driver associated with it in a simple and correct way. The terminal will be used to avoid any GUI related issues. This applies with all cases, except as noted. The installation procedure is done only via terminal and also while connected to the internet with a temporary wired ethernet connection or USB modem or any means possible that can give your PC, for the time, Internet access. After you find in the list below the correct package we then proceed with the installation.
3. Installing the Package
Assuming you used the PCI.ID 14e4:4320 rev 03 as found in your search above, and then looked at the table below and found that the correct package to install is the
linux-firmware-nonfree, we then proceed to simply install this package in the terminal:
sudo apt-get install linux-firmware-nonfree
and then reboot
The format to install is pretty simple, it's just:
sudo apt-get install <PACKAGE_NAME>
In the example above, the PACKAGE_NAME is
BROADCOM WIRELESS TABLE (Updated 21 February 2015)
PCI.ID 12.04 LTS 14.04+
14e4:0576 Special Case #1 Special Case #1
14e4:4301 firmware-b43legacy-installer firmware-b43-installer
14e4:4306 firmware-b43legacy-installer firmware-b43-installer
14e4:4306 rev 02 firmware-b43legacy-installer firmware-b43-installer
14e4:4306 rev 03 linux-firmware-nonfree firmware-b43-installer
14e4:4307 linux-firmware-nonfree firmware-b43-installer
14e4:4311 linux-firmware-nonfree firmware-b43-installer
14e4:4312 linux-firmware-nonfree firmware-b43-installer
14e4:4313 linux-firmware-nonfree firmware-b43-installer
14e4:4315 firmware-b43-lpphy-installer firmware-b43-installer
14e4:4315 rev 01 firmware-b43-installer firmware-b43-installer / Case #4
14e4:4318 linux-firmware-nonfree firmware-b43-installer
14e4:4318 rev 02 firmware-b43-installer firmware-b43-installer
14e4:4319 linux-firmware-nonfree firmware-b43-installer
14e4:4320 rev 02 firmware-b43legacy-installer firmware-b43-installer
14e4:4320 rev 03 linux-firmware-nonfree firmware-b43-installer
14e4:4324 linux-firmware-nonfree firmware-b43-installer
14e4:4325 firmware-b43legacy-installer firmware-b43-installer
14e4:4328 bcmwl-kernel-source firmware-b43-installer
14e4:4329 bcmwl-kernel-source bcmwl-kernel-source
14e4:432a bcmwl-kernel-source bcmwl-kernel-source
14e4:432b bcmwl-kernel-source bcmwl-kernel-source
14e4:432c bcmwl-kernel-source bcmwl-kernel-source
14e4:432d bcmwl-kernel-source bcmwl-kernel-source
14e4:4331 linux-firmware-nonfree firmware-b43-installer
14e4:4335 UNKNOWN firmware-b43-installer
14e4:4353 Special Case #1 Special Case #1
14e4:4357 Special Case #1 Special Case #1
14e4:4358 bcmwl-kernel-source bcmwl-kernel-source
14e4:4359 bcmwl-kernel-source bcmwl-kernel-source
14e4:4365 Special Case #2 bcmwl-kernel-source
14e4:4365 rev 01 Special Case #2 bcmwl-kernel-source
14e4:43a0 UNKNOWN bcmwl-kernel-source
14e4:4727 Special Case #3 Special Case #1
14e4:a962 UNKNOWN firmware-b43-installer
Special Case #1 - Uses
brcmsmac driver combination. Required firmware is installed by default in the package
Special Case #2 - Probably only working in 64-bit only for versions older than 14.04. Some cases need to install the
bcmwl-kernel-source packages, then proceed to reboot.
Special Case #3 - Use
brcmwl-kernel-source for kernel versions less than 3.8. To check for Kernel version open the terminal and type: uname -r. For kernel versions 3.8 and later, use brcmsmac.
Special Case #4 - In hardware like the Lenovo S10-2, if your wireless card gets stuck trying to connect to an SSID (keeps trying to connect), then the alternative to get it working would be to install the
brcmwl-kernel-source package (Remove any other installed packages related to it). Read the Debugging section below for more information regarding this wireless device.
IMPORTANT NOTE - After September 2014, if you follow this answer and still you have problems installing the correct driver, please try the
firmware-b43-installer package. There were some changes and some drivers will only work with this package. Remember to have a clean system before installing it:
sudo apt-get install firmware-b43-installer
In some particular cases, after installing the
firmware-b43-installer you need to remove the b43 module, enable it again and even proceed to unblock with rfkill:
sudo modprobe -r b43
sudo modprobe b43
sudo rfkill unblock all
If you have a Broadcom card that has a different pci.id, please ask a new question. Once solved, the solution will be added to this howto.
The following information is additional material to read about solving various issues related to Wireless Management and conflicts with other Network devices. Know that it some cases you need to have an updated Kernel version, since each new version of the Kernel introduces either new Network drivers, improvements over existing drivers or solves bugs regarding them.
To configure your wireless devices through the terminal I recommend How to connect and disconnect to a network manually in terminal?
If your connection drops every so often some users have suggested to set IPv6 to Ignore. Just go to Network Manager (The network icon on the top panel). Click on it then select Edit Settings. Then go to the Wireless connection you are using, select it. Now go to the last Tab in there that mentions IPv6 Settings. In the Method field select Ignore.
If your laptop does not detect your wireless card some users have mentioned that using
rfkill unblock all will solve the problem. Others simply turned the WiFi switch on their laptops off and then on again (Physical switch available on this laptops). For more information about
rfkill please read rf kill unblock all DOES NOT WORK!
If you are getting b43-phy0 ERROR: Fatal DMA error / b43-phy0 warning: Forced PIO do the following:
sudo rmmod b43
sudo modprobe b43 pio=0 qos=0
If it works then add it to you RC files so it is executed every time you boot. You can change PIO to 1 if you need to it.
If your wireless card see/not see the router and gets stuck in an endless "Trying to connect (Try 1/3)" loop the solution might be proper configuration of your router or wireless SSID device.
For all Wireless cards in general, it is very important to also take into consideration the network devices you are using (Routers, Switches, Wireless Channels and Wireless Bands, etc..). With this information you will be able to evaluate better what the source of the problem could be when you arrive at a dead end. An example would be the Lenovo S10-2 which uses the 14e4:4315 rev 01 PCIID. Even after installing the correct driver the user would end up in a "trying to connect" loop. It would see the wireless SSID but when trying to connect to it, it would enter an reconnecting loop.
The solution was that this particular wireless device did not support 40 Mhz channels nor does it support 802.11N. The router in that case was actually broadcasting with a forced 40 Mhz and on WiFi-N only. When the router was set to Auto mode and 20/40 Mhz Channel, the wireless card worked correctly. This is a case scenario that also repeats in other cases, so a proper evaluation of the network equipment would help a lot.