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Ramblings (mostly) about technical stuff

The saga of getting Fedora 14 running on a Dell Mini 10 netbook - part 5 of several

Posted by John Smith on

To recap from the previous post in this series, I now had a machine with Fedora 14 installed and running, but with no networking, and a generic graphics driver that failed to detect the netbook's native resolution.

I assumed that getting wired Ethernet working would be easier than wifi, but this turned out not to be the case, or so it seemed at the time. The manual building of a driver as outlined below never worked, and at the time it seemed there was nothing shipping with Fedora that supported the Ethernet networking. However, as I write this post (nearly a month after the original install), I find that wired networking is indeed running happily. Not sure what happened - maybe the Poulsbo drivers (to be documented) also cover this aspect of the device?

The upshot is, much of the stuff below may well be irrelevant, but without knowing precisely why stuff wasn't working before, but is now, I'm inclined to keep it all here.

The wired Ethernet chipset reports as a "Realtek RTL8102E/RTL8103E PCI-Express" card, and I downloaded the RTL8101-1.020.00 driver from I couldn't locate a driver that was explicitly marked as being for 8102E or 8103E.

(By the way, am I alone in finding mobo/gfx card manufacturer sites horrendous from a user-experience perspective? They all seem to send you round in circles and make it difficult to know whether you've found what you're looking for...

Building from source obviously requires a number of tools and libraries, according to my bash history, I ended up installing the following from the RPMs on the DVD:

  • kernel-devel-
  • kernel-headers-
  • gcc-4.5.1-4.fc14.i686.rpm
  • binutils-
  • cloog-ppl-0.15.7-2.i686.rpm
  • cpp-4.5.1-4.fc14.i686.rpm
  • libmpc-0.8.1-fc13.i686.rpm
  • glibc-devel-2.12.90-17.i686.rpm

Despite all this, Ethernet networking resolutely failed to work at the time, so I elected to try the wifi instead.

Having never really bothered with Linux wifi since failing to get it working on an HP laptop around 2004/2005, I'm pretty ignorant of how it works. As far as I can tell, there are some open libraries that interface with the closed drivers that a vendor supplies?

In Windows XP, the wifi card is reported as a "Dell Wireless 1397 WLAN mini-card", which appears to just be a rebranding. Fedora's Network Manager states that it is a "Broadcom Corporation BCM4312 802.11b/g LP-PHY", and this Linux Forums thread indicates that it can be made to work with Fedora. With no operational networking whatsoever, it wasn't possible simply to add RPM Fusion to the list of repos, and instead I'd have to download the RPMs on another machine and transfer them via a USB drive.

Unfortunately, my initial Googling came up with inconsistent results. This FC14 RPM Fusion page listed a Broadcom driver, but with 'fc13' in the package name.

Some kmod-wl RPMs also wouldn't install without a wl-kmod-common package, which wasn't listed on that page.

Eventually I found that there's a "meta-package" broadcom-wl here that provides 3 sub-packages:

  • broadcom-wl
  • config(broadcom-wl)
  • wl-kmod-common

Anyway at this point I was pretty fed up and gave up on this angle of attack. (Sound familiar?) I found some binary drivers on the Broadcom site and using the instructions in their README I was able to build the driver and get it working - albeit at the second attempt.

I hacked in the following lines to /etc/rc.local: modprobe lib80211 insmod /root/wifi/broadcom/wl.ko This probably isn't the most elegant solution, but it got wifi networking operating seamlessly from boot, which would then allow me to tackle the graphics driver...

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This blog (mostly) covers technology and software development.

Note: I've recently ported the content from my old blog hosted on Google App Engine using some custom code I wrote, to a static site built using Pelican. I've put in place various URL manipulation rules in the webserver config to try to support the old URLs, but it's likely that I've missed some (probably meta ones related to pagination or tagging), so apologies for any 404 errors that you get served.

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About the author

I'm a software developer who's worked with a variety of platforms and technologies over the past couple of decades, but for the past 7 or so years I've focussed on web development. Whilst I've always nominally been a "full-stack" developer, I feel more attachment to the back-end side of things.

I'm a web developer for a London-based equities exchange. I've worked at organizations such as News Corporation and Google and BATS Global Markets. Projects I've been involved in have been covered in outlets such as The Guardian, The Telegraph, the Financial Times, The Register and TechCrunch.

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