[nSLUG] gNewSense drivers question

Jack Warkentin jwark at eastlink.ca
Fri Feb 6 22:54:25 AST 2009

Hi Everybody

Ian Campbell wrote:
> On Fri, Feb 06, 2009 at 06:33:04PM -0400, Jack Warkentin wrote:
>> At the time I was investigating there *was* a wireless chip set with a 
>> Free Linux driver, namely, the RAlink RT2500. The laptop I bought in 
>> late 2005 has such a wireless card and I have been using the Free (in 
>> fact GPL'd) driver ever since. It is available at, for example,
>> http://debian.yorku.ca/debian/pool/main/r/rt2500/
> If memory serves, that's the original driver from Ralink itself and
> it's not great: no SMP support, no wpa_supplicant support. There's a
> rewrite, I think the driver's called rt2x00, which should fix those
> issues.

1. The rt2500 driver is *based on* the original RAlink driver, but since 
then "many patches have been integrated to improve the stability and 
functionality of the driver." (per



2. SMP support is not an  issue for me since my AMD64 Athlon 3200+ 
processor is not multicore.

3. wpa_supplicant support is not needed since WEP, WPA and WPA2 are 
built in to the driver.

4. Admittedly it took me a little while to figure out how to make the 
rt2500 driver work - that is, there is a file in directory 
/etc/Wireless/RT2500STA that the driver loads on bootup that provides 
all of the necessary configuration. But once I had that mastered, 
changing distros became a snap. Just copy that file to that directory, 
enter the usual lines in /etc/network/interfaces, reboot, and the card 
comes up beautifully.

> While I don't think the rt2500 requires firmware (it's been a while, I
> don't have the card anymore) there are several in the Ralink family
> that do, so watch out if you're buying one and actually plan to stick
> to your free-as-in-RMS guns.

1. It *does not* require firmware.

2. I am pragmatic. If I can find hardware that does not require 
proprietary drivers I will select it. If I cannot, I will buy hardware 
that *does* require proprietary drivers. For example, my video card is 
from ATI and I do use the fglrx driver.

> Jack, you might want to check out rt2x00 instead.

Most distros I have tried out in the last year or more want the rt2x00 
driver to be used. Not one of the network management tools supplied by 
those distros has been able to configure the card and the WPA2 
configuration that I am using that works. Every time I fall back to the 
tried and true, with absolutely no problems.
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Jack Warkentin, phone 902-404-0457, email jwark at eastlink.ca
39 Inverness Avenue, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, B3P 1X6

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