Broadcom BCM4328 WiFi driver support in Debian Lenny for Dell XPS M1330.

I am mad, and love trying different linux distros in my laptop. Recently I switched to my all time favorite Debian. Well, installed the latest and greatest of Debian, i.e., Lenny 5.0.6. Debian looked pretty as earlier, but it need to start wearing more and more modern dresses, I mean, themes. 🙂

However, as with Ubuntu, support for BroadCom WiFi was not included by default in Debian as well. They say, it is because of proprietary nature of BroadCom driver. So, I had to find the suitable windows driver for my BroadCom WiFi and install it in Linux using ‘ndiswrapper’. This process has been automated quite well in Ubuntu 10.04+, where in you just need to sign an agreement that you will use restricted hardware, by activating it under ‘System->Administration->Hardware Driver’.

I have Dell XPS 1330 and my WiFi hardware is – BroadCom BCM4328 802.11/a/b/g/n (rev 03). Earlier, many a times I have installed driver for this hardware using ndiswrapper, but I always forget it immediately. This time, I decided to write a blog post on this procedure, so that I can refer to it any time in future instead of wasting time trying to get the driver the procedure right.

Here we go, below is the procedure I used to make WiFi work in my sweet laptop.

1. Install ndiswrapper.

sudo apt-get install ndiswrapper-common

2. Backlist ‘ssb‘ and ‘bcm43xx‘ drivers by adding them to /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist

3. Find appropriate WiFi windows XP driver for BCM4328. Note that Windows Vista driver (bcmwl6) will not work. You need to have Windows XP drivers only (bcmwl5). This driver can be found in driver installation disk which comes along with laptop. In my case, it was present in r174291.exe package.

4.Once you find the appropriate driver, install the driver using ndiswrapper
ndiswrapper -i bcmwl5.inf

5. Add this module to linux kernel
modprobe ndiswrapper

6. Load ndiswrapper kernel module during boot and reboot.
echo ndiswrapper >> /etc/modules

Thats all!. Small indicator present near the power button in laptop will start blinking during the next boot. Simple. Isn’t it?

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