You’ve got your shiny new Linux installation on your system for the first time, and everything seems to working perfectly. Everything, except the Internet. And the Internet is important, so a computer that can’t connect to it is virtually useless.
Are you confused on how to proceed? Follow this troubleshooting guide to pinpoint the problem.
Does Your Internet Even Work?
First off, we need to make sure that the problem isn’t somewhere outside of your computer, such as the router, modem, or ISP. If possible, connect to your router via an Ethernet cable and see if you can connect to the Internet through it.
Unlike Windows, it’s such an extreme rarity for Ethernet not to work on a computer that this is a very safe bet to make sure that everything else is working. I’ve never heard of anyone having to install additional drivers just to get the Ethernet to work.
Does It Need A Driver?
Once you’ve confirmed that your Internet connection works, great! You can then move on to figuring out why the WiFi won’t work properly. For a decent amount of laptops, there aren’t any open-source drivers that can get them to function, so you’ll instead need to download a proprietary driver to get it to work. Broadcom wireless chipsets more commonly have this problem than any other chipset.
There are two ways you can get the proprietary driver. First, if you installed Ubuntu from a USB drive or DVD, you can insert it again and run the Additional Drivers application. It will detect the drivers found on the USB drive or DVD, and automatically offer to install them for you.
The other option is to gain Internet access through an Ethernet cable and to run the Additional Drivers application once your computer has a connection. If neither method offers to install a proprietary driver, then there aren’t any drivers available that work for your specific chipset. This could mean that the chipset simply doesn’t have support for Linux, or that it should be taken care of by an open-source driver.
Are You Using The Right Configuration?
To double-check all of your settings, you can right-click on your WiFi tray icon and choose Edit Connections. Click on the network you’re trying to connect to (if you were able to get that far) and go through all the tabs and make sure that all of the settings are correct. If you’re not sure what something is, it’s best not to touch it.
Updated Drivers Normally Not Available
There’s a chance that there’s a new or improved open-source driver available for your wireless chipset, but only in a kernel version newer than what your distribution provides. In cases like this, it’s a good idea to get the latest kernel and install it.
Ubuntu users can head to the Ubuntu Mainline Kernel PPA, then scroll all the way down to the very latest kernel release, and choose the following files: linux-image (for your architecture), linux-header (for your architecture), and linux-header (all). Install them, and then restart so you can start using them. You should hopefully have a working WiFi connection now.
Search The Web Intelligently
Lastly, if you’re still out of luck, you need to Google your wireless chipset and add “linux” as a keyword in there. To be more helpful to you, you need to know what exact wireless chipset you have. You can find this by running the command
lspci | grep -i wireless. In my case, the chipset was BCM4360 so I can put into Google “BCM4360 linux” and come up with some answers.
What Did You Do To Fix Your Internet?
These few steps should give you enough options for getting your Internet connection to work properly. On Linux, you usually don’t have any problems with the Internet connection unless the hardware isn’t working like it should, so that’s why these tips are so focused on the hardware. Good luck!
What have you done to get wireless to work on your Linux system? What was your most difficult experience? Let us know in the comments!