Fedora Core 5 Support for Intel Pro Wireless (Centrino)

I bought a new Gateway MP6954 Laptop yesterday and decided to give Linux another go. This time I told myself: I’m not even going to attempt to run any Windows applications using Crossover Office or anything else. I’m just going to go with what works best: httpd, Tomcat, Java, PHP, Perl, Ruby, Oracle, MySQL, etc.

I installed Fedora Core 5 again (kernel build 2.6.15-1.2054_FC5smp) from the same CDs I used last time and it installed and came up cleanly, but with no wireless support. There is very little documentation about running Linux on my particular laptop model, but the wireless hardware (Intel Centrino/Pro Wireless ipw3945) is fairly commonplace and, according to the many sources I referenced, it’s “well supported” by Linux. Intel even offers a driver for it, but it’s a source-only distribution.

According to the install guide for the driver, I first needed to download and compile the IEEE 80211 subsystem. I later found out that in most cases, doing so is a bad idea. Compiling the subsystem (version 1.1.14) and then the driver (version 1.1.0) led to runtime incompatibilities — “Invalid Module Format” was the exact error. However, against the 80211 module included with the 2.6.15 kernel source, the driver wouldn’t even compile. So I was in a bind.

I needed to find an IEEE 80211 subsystem that was compatible with the 1.1.0 version of the driver. The answer was actually more simple than I thought. All I needed to do was upgrade to the latest FC5 kernel 2.6.17, install the latest kernel sources (yum install kernel-devel) and then build the driver from there. These are the instructions I followed.

And just like that, I had wireless support for my new laptop under FC5. Now only if I could get the sound card working . . . .

2 Replies to “Fedora Core 5 Support for Intel Pro Wireless (Centrino)”

  1. Hi Dave,

    It’s a great system and I would highly recommend it. What you read/heard about only allowing the Media Center Edition of Windows XP probably isn’t entirely true, although I can see why someone would think that. The system comes with a restore CD that partitions and formats the HDD and then magically installs Win XP MCE and all the necessary drivers. If you try to upgrade this to Professional, the software stops you from doing so.

    I can’t imagine that there are any hardware controls that would stop the installation of other flavors of Windows. I think what you’ll need to do is avoid the use of the restore CD and just run your own fdisk to partition the drives and then install WinXP Pro (or the Windows flavor of your choosing) from there. You’ll need to do manual driver installs from the vendors’ web sites because Windows won’t pick up all the hardware on this machine without some help.

    Also, most stores (including Best Buy, where I bought mine) have a 15-day return policy, so just in case you can’t get it working, you can always return it.

    I’m interested to hear about your experiences, so if you do go down this road, please drop by the blog and let me know if it worked out for you. I have a pretty good feeling that it will.

    Regards,
    Chris

    P.S.: The laptop also comes with a “Vista Compatible” sticker . . . . 😉

  2. I am considering this system for a new purchase. I’ve read that it won’t allow the installation of other Windows flavors, other than the MC Edition it comes with. Any chance you have any knowledge about this problem? I’d sure be interested…

    Thanks,

    Dave

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