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How to fix wireless problems in Ubuntu 12.04 LTS Precise Pangolin?

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Ubuntu dropped the ball again when it comes to wireless support (in my case the Atheros AR9285/AR9287 cards). Release 12.04 being a Long Term Support (LTS) release, I was hopping that the long existing Ubuntu wifi problems would be rectified. Let us look at some ways to fix wireless problems in Ubuntu. Since the 10.04 Lucid Lynx release, the problem of intermittent / choppy wireless connectivity have existed in Ubuntu, disappointing many users including me. So how can I get wireless internet to work on Ubuntu or how to fix the wireless problems in Ubuntu?.

Few months back, I posted a fix for the Atheros AR 9285/9287 Wifi card problems on 10.04 Lucid Lynx. All you had to do was to do this:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install linux-backports-modules-wireless-lucid-generic
sudo reboot

This however did not work on 11.04 Natty Narwhal or later. We had to create a the file /etc/modprobe.d/ath9k.conf and add the following line to it and reboot (as described in this post):

options ath9k nohwcrypt=1

Both the above solutions would fix the intermittent or choppy connectivity in Ubuntu. In 12.04 Precise Pangolin however, the wireless connectivity is even worse: it simply does not connect. The boot process halts at “Configuring Network Connection” for about 2-3 minutes before continuing to boot without network connectivity. You are then presented with a nice desktop which in these days have little use without internet connection. Reading around on the internet several people have mentioned this problem. If the above solutions don’t work, read on to try other fixes.

5 Best Linux/Ubuntu compatible USB Wifi cards:

  1. AirLink101 AWLL6075 Wireless N Mini USB Adapter
  2. Medialink - Wireless N USB Adapter - 802.11n
  3. ASUS (USB-N13) Wireless-N USB Adapter
  4. Panda Mini Wifi (b/g/n) 150Mbps Card
  5. TP-Link TL-WN722N 150Mbps High Gain Wireless USB Adapter

Read detailed reviews on Linux compatible Wifi cards: USB and Mini PCIe.

While installing Ubuntu Server 12.04, I was thrilled to see options for Wifi connectivity during installation. I did not have to go hook up my laptop to my router (which is in a different room) to install Ubuntu Server. A headless install worked fine with Wifi connection. But only a few percentage of the users use a headless install. As soon I installed any type of Desktop Environment (Unity, Gnome, KDE, or LXDE) the network configuration problems started. If you also experience these problems, there are several possible workarounds / fixes depending on your wireless card make/model.[Read: Best mini PCIe Linux compatible wifi cards.]

Solutions for Wireless Problems in Ubuntu

Fix 1: Restart Networking After Boot (temporary fix)

This is a temporary fix that I found out accidentally and it worked for me to get the wireless working while I try to find a more permanent solution (I am not a Linux expert). None of the solutions listed above worked for my Precise Pangolin installation. After the booting process finishes and you are on the desktop (without Wifi network connection), run the following command:

sudo /etc/init.d/networking restart
Precise Pangolin Networking Restart

Precise Pangolin Networking Restart

You will see that this is a deprecated command and use “reload networking” or “sudo service networking restart”. After the command executes, your network will be reconfigured and you should now have internet connection. Unfortunately, this has to be done after almost every reboot. You may run this command automatically when the session starts to get your Wifi to work. But the 2-3 minute delay during boot is still an annoyance.

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Fix 2: Disable Wifi Card Power Management (may improve performance)

Another fix for wireless problems in Ubuntu that might work for some people and improve Wifi performance is disabling the power management for the Wifi card, using the command below. This although will mean less efficient power management and faster battery drain:

sudo iwconfig wlan0 power off

After running the above command, run the following command:

sudo iwconfig

Check for “Power Management:off” under wlan0 to ensure that the power management is turned off.

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Comments

  1. diego says

    Anand,

    Thanks for all the fixes and instructions… in my case, I have an Asus N53S notebook, that has the Artheros 9285, and I installed Ubuntu 12.04. My wireless card has trouble scanning networks, it only sees them when is very close to the router, and the speed decreases when I move far from router.

    Also in my case, I don’t experience 2-3 minutes hang up on boot, it starts very fast. I posted the problem on ubutuforums: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2022959

    If you have any other suggestions, please post it! Thanks again!

    • says

      diego, my ASUS came with the same Wifi Card. I have had no luck so far. Fortunately for me, I had this lying around: http://amzn.to/M4tvLe. It works well in Ubuntu and have been using it for a while now. I will update the post if I figure out something for the Atheros AR9285 card that works perfectly. Sorry and good luck!

  2. Becca says

    Man! I actually thought after reading the fourth article, I’d be able to fix my wifi and get back to my stuff…. sadly, I was wrong. ): I don’t know what else to do except go back to Windows using a recov disk. //:

    • says

      Hi Becca, sorry that you are having troubles. Have you tried Kubuntu? I recently installed Kubuntu 12.04 on my laptop and the Atheros AR9287 Wireless worked out of the box. No issues. I suggest you give the live CD a try.

    • casco says

      You can add an entry to “Startup Applications” , this way it will be executed after login in into the desktop.
      Another option is to have it at boot time, for this just place the commad in /etc/rc.local (It has to be place before “exit 0″).

  3. Baibhav says

    I tried this but it didn’t help, no change in performance

    sudo iwconfig wlan0 power off

    Dell Xps 15
    Ubuntu 12.04

    The problem is very annoying, the same wifi works perfect in windows, even signal strength is picked up well by ipod touch, whereas the ubuntu OS doesn’t.

  4. Jaime Cruz says

    I am quite frustrated. I HAD wireless working just fine, but I relocated the computer to another room to connect it via cable to the router. After I disabled the wireless interface I now have NO networking. I can’t even get the damned wireless working again!!!! All of the solutions I’ve found involve using the apt-get command which is *&^%$ing useless unless you have a connection. If I could issue that command successfully, I wouldn’t be needing to fix the network connectivity!!!!

    I do have a 32-bit laptop with Ubuntu installed networking succesfully so I can use that to communicate and download files and transfter them over via USB stick, but that’s about it. And I tried the sudo /etc/init.d/networking restart command and it didn’t work. “Failed to bring up eth0″

  5. jon says

    You’re a genius, SEARCHED ALL AROUND THE INTERNET AND COULDNT FIND A FIX! Turning off power management worked immediately.

  6. says

    I have sort of the opposite problem. My transmit is OK, but my reception is poor relative to booting into Windows 7 on the same Toshiba P755 S5182 Satellite notebook running kubuntu precise. Windows sees a lot of local (residential) SSIDs and Linux only sees mine. Any ideas oj how to fix this?

  7. says

    I am a novice in this field and facing the same problem. So many times I have checked out ubuntu forums but here I have got the solution. Thanks Anand for sharing such a useful information.

  8. kayhan says

    Thank you for your post.
    I have been using Ubuntu for more than 6 years but I have started thinking it is not really a good OS. This type of problems should get fixed at some point but it looks like that Ubuntu does not care. Instead of coming up with a minor update to Unity (which BTW very ugly and sluggish) every 6 months, Ubuntu should put its shit together and actually fix real problems.

    • says

      True Kayhan. I wonder if other distros have the same problems with wireless. The problem with me is I like Ubuntu Server edition so much that I run it on all my computers. I have never really tried other server or desktop distros.

  9. jose luis says

    I don’t know the exact reason, but if you dont update ubuntu in the first time this problem does not appear. I think that is the firewall

  10. says

    Problems in Ubuntu 12.04 LTS Precise Pangolin
    Hell yes, Fix 5 did it for me after spending half a day bouncing over every other forum.
    Broadcom was not on the blacklist though.
    (Dell Inspiron 1501 with AMD Turion)

  11. kapil says

    When are the ubuntu guys planning to fix this…this is a prime issue and a linux system with an erratic internet is kind of tying your hand. you cannot operate linux well without a decent network connection.
    can we in any way expediate it?

  12. Charles Mire says

    I’m currently running 12.04 and will be upgrading to 14.04. My wifi has never caused me problems until I tried to connect to an Asus RT-AC68U gigabit router. Then suddenly, the connection kept dropping, etc. Same problem noted in this thread. But on my older Netgear router at home, the connection is always stable. The fix that worked for me was to purchase an Asus USB-N53 wifi adapter. My onboard wifi used the Broadcom driver, and there seems to be a problem with these drivers and the newer routers. Reinstalling the driver and trying the other remedies listed in various forum threads did not work. The other nice thing about the USB adapter is that even though it is not a perfect solution (the connection still can drop sometimes, although rarely), it can easily be power cycled by unplugging then replugging in (versus doing “services networking restart” or rebooting).

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