Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Connectile Disfunction

This problem has been a long time developing, beginning with the slow internet connectivity problem that we blamed on Comcast but that turned out to be a bad router. To resolve that issue, we got a new combo router/wireless-AP. We got that up and the router part worked fine. We didn't test the wireless part because we had another wireless access point upstairs that worked just fine.

We have people over on a regular basis and last week when they showed up and tried to access our new wireless connection downstairs they couldn't. This began hours upon hours of troubleshooting. Ultimately, we ended up back where we started. The router was working but not as a wireless access point.

As a result of all the monkeying about, however, my laptop would not longer connect. It could get five bars of signal on the AP but would not get the network. On a reboot, I started getting a "New Hardware" prompt for a PCI Controller that drivers could not be found for. At one point I removed the device from the device manager and was able to get the network to work but the next reboot landed me back where I started again. But this time, deleting the device wouldn't do what it did before.

The final, fatal mistake was to attempt to re-install the wireless card. You see, several years ago, I got a wireless card for my daughter's laptop. I couldn't get it to work on her machine properly so I thought I'd give her the card I had and install that one on my laptop. I don't even remember all the details but there was some driver or something left over on my machine that I couldn't get rid of that prevented installing the card. Eventually I resolved it but I had forgotten about that all last night when I tried re-installing the card and the missing dll files reared their ugly heads.

I had enough. I pulled a few files off the machine onto a USB flash, wiped the hard drive and installed the Ubuntu-flavor of Linux.

Except, that I couldn't get the wireless card to work. It could get five bars of signal on the AP but would not get the network.

Today, in a search of the Internet, I found some documentation that was neither in the operating system's Help nor in the big ass book "Ubuntu Unleashed" that I purchased to learn this stuff:

"Step 5a. If your access point requires a WEP key, it must be entered with a dash after every fourth character, ie (xxxx-xxxx-xx)"

So, with the perceived answer in hand, I finally got home to try it out. . . and the laptop will not boot. It gets through much of the boot and then simply stops with a flashing cursor.

What the fsck.

As I've been writing this I was able to get it to boot from the disk. It looks like I'll be installing it again.

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