November 04, 2009

Ubuntu 9.10 Has Bad Karma For Broadcom Wireless

For all the Ubuntu users out there we heralded in the new version of Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala this past weekend.

Now before I start on my rant I want to put up a disclaimer on my comments. I absolutely love Ubuntu and will continue to use it, write about it, train on it, and promote it.

Now on to the rant...

After spending months of joy with each version of Ubuntu since Hardy Heron I have never had a successful update either graphically or by the command line. How can a distribution that works almost flawlessly on a fresh install have such a poor updater?

Like I always do, I backed up my personal files and tried the updater and from 9.04 to 9.10 I found the following errors upon booting up Karmic
  • touch-pad mouse did not work
  • Firefox was extremely slow
  • Sound card did not work
At this point I tried fixing each problem separately, but after getting the touch-pad working and then going through a handful of solutions for Firefox I decided it wasn't worth the effort and I'd rather do a fresh install. Of course now we get to the meat of the rant...

After doing a fresh install I find that my broadcom wireless card wasn't detected. This is just plain weird because it was detected on the live cd. My solution was to load the broadcom drivers off of the live cd with the following steps...

1. Open Synaptic Package Manager
2. Load the Live cd in it's drive (or thumb drive if you install with that media)
3. Go to Settings / Repositories / Ubuntu Software
4. Check mark the installable from cd and close
5. Refresh Synaptic
6. Search and install
  • fakeroot
  • patch
  • dkms
  • bcmwl
7. Reboot computer

Hurray, now it works for me. Hope this helps.

Now I urge the hard workers at Canonical, during their 100 paper cuts initiative, to please focus on improving their graphical updater so it... well... works.


Larry said...

I feel your pain. I have successfully upgraded Ubuntu only twice. Ever! And I have been using Ubuntu on multiple machines since 6.06. For reasons I will describe in a moment, I needed to fresh install this time around, but I would have fresh-installed even if it was not necessary. I have given up on Ubuntu upgrades until I begin reading blog posts that tell me it finally works.

This time, I moved from 32-bit 9.04 to 64-bit 9.10, so a clean install was a necessity for me, but I would have done a fresh install anyway. I wanted to try ext4 and upgrading would have left me with ext3. Interestingly, this time (unlike my experience with 9.04) my experimental move to 64-bit has NOT borked any of my critical applications. I will stick with it unless something comes along that I must use, but does not work on the 64-bit OS.


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The Computer Doctor said...

Thanks Larry.
I've been reluctant to try any of the 64 bit versions for fear of incompatibilities with drivers. Since I work in a windows world by day you can appreciate my apprehension I'm sure. Now I'm wondering if perhaps the 64 bit versions may have a little more attention to detail spent on them. Anyhow I may very well try switching to the 64 bit on 10.04 LTS Lucid Lynx.

As always, Thank you for your valued comments and keep up the good work at

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