The Vicious Linux Wireless Circle
I feel like I’m stuck in a vicious circle.
I recently broke the USB wireless dongle I use on my eight year old Linux running laptop PC. Without it, the laptop can’t connect to the internet. Hmm.
So I pop out and buy a new wireless dongle. I did my research – it’s a Belkin and is well supported on Linux. Result.
I plug it in and lo… nothing happens.
Turns out that particular driver doesn’t work with the version of Ubuntu I’m running on the laptop (namely XUbuntu 8.04). The cure is to re-install the drivers. Which may work. Or may not. But then the drivers don’t seem to be online anywhere. All the links to them are broken.
So the solution is to upgrade to a later version of XUbuntu. Fine. Except that there’s a reason I never upgraded XUbuntu on that laptop. It’s because in XUbuntu 8.10 and onwards, there’s a problem with the video driver and things don’t work properly. Bits of the screen don’t update properly – they render in the wrong colour, or just randomly disappear.
That’s not an isolated incident. I saw exactly the same problems when I tried Vector Linux this time last year. I suspect it’s a problem with the graphics drivers hence may appear on many versions of Linux. There are some known issues with recent Intel drivers although whether they’re the same ones I’m seeing is another matter.
Now I know what you Linux experts will say next. Use the Vesa drivers! The old never fail graphics standby.
Which screw up the graphics completely, go all multi-coloured and very swirly. It’s very psychedelic but absolutely no use for checking my email.
So I’m in a complete viscous circle. I can’t use the wireless dongle unless I upgrade. But if I upgrade I can’t use the PC properly because the graphics driver doesn’t work.
It’s one of those lovely situations where you’re sure there’s a solution, but you’re completely stumped as to how to solve it. Bar buy a new PC. Or a homeplug…