3rd Times a Charm… Linux, Wifi and Samsung N210

If you follow this blog you will know that I’ve mentioned wireless and the Samsung N210 in the past.

Kickstart Samsung N210 Wireless
Update: UNR 10.04 Wireless on Samsung N210

The first one post was the most successful blog post I’ve ever written, and judging by the number of posts in the Ubuntu forums it’s something many people struggle with constantly with this netbook.

I’ve found that the solutions I posed previously worked, but had to be redone each time after a kernel update. What’s worse is that with each new ‘Buntu distro upgrade, an entirely new wireless problem appeared.

To be quite frank, I’m getting sick of this and I won’t be touching another Samsung netbook. In fact when it comes time to refresh I’ll probably opt for a System 76 box.

The latest upgrade appears to be finding the card and connecting seamlessly on live distro and install… but after a while of being online, it starts to drop off, becoming more frequent until it either doesn’t work at all, or it pretends to connect to the network without actually establishing any connection to the router.

I did a bit more digging in the forums and online and after much reading I’ve come to the conclusion that it has something to do with Canonical disabling Wireless N by default in 10.10 (Maverick), and whatever is going on inside Samsung netbooks… because to my dismay I discovered it’s not just the N210 that has this problem seems to be the majority of their netbook range using Realtek cards.

It was then that I stumbled across a German blog post from a link through a forum for sorting out wireless on the Samsung N510.

Dirk Hoeschen has put together both a driver and script to easily run from the command line which I can confirm worked on my N210. The only issue I’ve found is Wireless still drops but it’s much more stable and lasts longer. Furthermore, by running the script again it performs a ‘reset’ and causes the wireless to reboot without having to reboot.

sudo apt-get install build-essential
tar -xpf rtl819Xe.tar.gz
cd rtl819Xe
sudo ./install.sh

It’s not perfect but it works and so it is my 3rd solution from Ubuntu 10.10 onwards. There may be more elegant and more permanent solutions but I really don’t have the time or skill level to look for them. One thing I will state is that Ubuntu was the only distro I tested that recognised the Realtek hardware out-of-the-box despite these issues.

I honestly don’t know what the Narwhal will bring and if I’ll have to hunt for a new solution or if it will finally be fixed. Funnily enough, I did have duel boot with Win 7 Starter on the netbook and one evening when I was getting particularly fed up I booted in and found that Windows didn’t recognise the wireless network either – leading me to believe that the wireless cards in these things are very poor quality. Either that or Samsungs quality control efforts are seriously questionable. But that’s another story.

Update: UNR 10.04 Wireless on Samsung N210

Back in March I posted a “how I did it” on getting Wireless working the Samsung N210, which involved installing and compiling the Realtek driver. The post proved immensely popular and was top of google search results for a while when searched for “samsung n210 wireless”.

Unfortunately, unless you are still on Ubuntu 9.10 that guide is now useless, as I found out recently when I updated my Sammy netbook to 10.04. I did manage to get it working again, but it failed on another recent kernel update (2.6.32-24-generic) so I got fed up and rolled back to the last kernel (2.6.32-23).

It appears that Canonical messed up with the firmware or something (here’s a bug report) and so new firmware needs to be downloaded after compiling. It worked for me just downloading the firmware and restarting, but you may need download the latest r8192e driver and compile that first.

sudo apt-get install git-core
cd /tmp
git clone git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/gregkh/firmware.git
sudo cp -av firmware/RTL8192E /lib/firmware/
*RESTART WILL WORK* ONLY x86

Thanks to s32ialx on the Ubuntu Forums for the tip. You should check out the thread for further updates.

Curious Problem with Cork City Locale Geocaching Pocket Query

If you’re a premium member with Groundspeak’s geocaching.com then you will be aware of the ability to create pocket queries. These are really useful for throwing up to 1000 waypoints onto your GPSr for a days, or even a holidays caching.

As some of you know we were in Ireland recently (the reason for lack of posts) and I decided to take advantage of Stena Ferries free satellite wifi on the boat. I set a PQ for Cork and waited for it to build. When the query was ready I saved as usual to my shared Dropbox folder and then attached my Garmin 60CSx but despite loading fine onto my CacheBerry – the PQ just wouldn’y upload to the Garmin.

Puzzled, I tried an older PQ and verified that my script was working, as well as the Garmin was not having some kind of software fault. Next most obvious thing that occurred to me was perhaps the file was corrupted during download, after all it was a wireless connection via satellite on a moving ferry. I tested this theory by downloading the PQ again. Then I downloaded one I’d created earlier. The earlier one (Watford) worked, the Cork didn’t.

Then I decided to test the website PQ builder itself – maybe there was a technical problem. I checked the forums but there was nothing reported, so I posted a thread which didn’t go anywhere. I then tried creating an entirely new PQ of Leicester (never run before). I downloaded and Leicester loaded up onto my GPS no problem.

So there was something local to Cork which was borking my PQ which had to be in the file itself. I didn’t have much time left so I tried a splicing the file with my newly created Leicester PQ. I opened up the GPX file and chopped out the header:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<gpx xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xmlns:xsd="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema" version="1.0" creator="Groundspeak Pocket Query" xsi:schemaLocation="http://www.topografix.com/GPX/1/0 http://www.topografix.com/GPX/1/0/gpx.xsd http://www.groundspeak.com/cache/1/0 http://www.groundspeak.com/cache/1/0/cache.xsd" xmlns="http://www.topografix.com/GPX/1/0">
<name>Cork</name>
<desc>Geocache file generated by Groundspeak</desc>
<author>Groundspeak</author>
<email>contact@groundspeak.com</email>
<time>2010-06-16T03:12:46.2642819Z</time>
<keywords>cache, geocache, groundspeak</keywords>
<bounds minlat="51.551967" minlon="-9.37105" maxlat="52.428967" maxlon="-7.593717" />
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?><gpx xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xmlns:xsd="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema" version="1.0" creator="Groundspeak Pocket Query" xsi:schemaLocation="http://www.topografix.com/GPX/1/0 http://www.topografix.com/GPX/1/0/gpx.xsd http://www.groundspeak.com/cache/1/0 http://www.groundspeak.com/cache/1/0/cache.xsd" xmlns="http://www.topografix.com/GPX/1/0">  <name>Cork</name>  <desc>Geocache file generated by Groundspeak</desc>  <author>Groundspeak</author>  <email>contact@groundspeak.com</email>  <time>2010-06-16T03:12:46.2642819Z</time>  <keywords>cache, geocache, groundspeak</keywords>  <bounds minlat="51.551967" minlon="-9.37105" maxlat="52.428967" maxlon="-7.593717" />

and footer:

</gpx>

I then copied the remaining xml and pasted it below the header in the Leicester PQ, then saved this and zipped it back up.

I ran my script and and uploaded it to my 60CSx – it worked!

I can’t see anything wrong with the header info above but this is where the error seems to lie. Maybe it’s something to do with the coordinates in the boundary tag, or perhaps some hidden character I missed. Does anyone more technical in both xml and WGS84 Datum than me have an idea?

Oddly enough, subsequent PQs for Cork after we arrived worked too.

Bluetooth on Ubuntu Linux vs on Windows Vista

The introduction of new technology into our lives always seems to have a ripple effect on our existing hardware. Recently I bought a Sony Alpha 330 DSLR which as an entry level SLR I am very happy with. However, I discovered my 4 year old desktop PC’s card reader could not handle the SDHC format that this camera uses.

So I ended up ordering an EVO Labs Internal Card Reader with Bluetooth from Amazon and found it installed into Ubuntu Linux without a hitch. I was then able to utilise the bluetooth chip to connect with my mobile and send/receive files. The only complaint I’d have is since my tower sits under my desk sometimes the bluetooth signal is a little choppy – I don’t know if this is a power issue or due to the proximity of other electrical devices.

Enamoured with my new bluetooth enabled desktop, I decided to invest in some cheap but stylish BTHS600 Bluetooth stereo headset headphones which I am happy to report work splendid with Ubuntu. The desktop took a few reboots to get there, I installed Blueman from the Synaptic Package Manager to manage the connection. All I have to do is switch the headphones on to pairing mode when I want to connect. My Sammy N210 netbook connected flawlessly with no reboots or additional software.

During the teething problems of installation, I wanted to try these with Windows to see how they worked and connected. Windows is good OEM OS that they install by default and is a good benchmark to see how hardware connects and responds.

I booted into Vista and this is where I discovered the snag. Vista was happy to recognise my new internal card reader but when it came to utilising it – it was demanding drivers. I have mislaid the driver disk somewhere because I didn’t need it to run on my main OS, and I’m used to Windows being able to recognise stuff – but it was not the case here. So instead Windows redirected me to the manufacturer website which it insisted was Toshiba. I downloaded the recommended driver package but surprise, surprise this driver didn’t work.

So I can’t get bluetooth working on Vista, and I’m not sure if the card slots will work either. Which OS isn’t ready for the desktop again…?

For those keeping score: Linux 1, Windows 0

For anyone else having trouble hooking up your bluetooth headset I recommend trying out these links:

http://it.toolbox.com/blogs/teach-it/bluetooth-audio-finally-working-in-ubuntu-hh-24028
http://fosswire.com/post/2008/10/better-bluetooth-audio/
https://help.ubuntu.com/community/BluetoothHeadset
http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?p=4910397
http://ubuntu-ky.ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?p=9030305

Kickstart Samsung N210 Wireless

Update 1: Chris (see comments) has kindly provided a up-to-date driver (from Realtek) said to fix hanging issues after hibernate. I tested hibernate and apart from an Ubuntu One crash it worked. Instructions from the Realtek contact are provided below the original post, if you find it doesn’t work and want to try a different method.

Update 2: I’ve had to take the Realtek rtl8192e driver file down now as it’s hammering my bandwidth and I don’t want to pay extra money at this time. However I uploaded a copy to YourFileLink file hosting – get it here.

Update 3: For those who have upgraded to UNR version 10.04 and above, this solution seems to no longer work, please see my updated post.

My Sammy NC10 worked flawlessly when I installed Ubuntu Jaunty and every upgrade after then, before that, on Ibex I had to do teeny bit of hacking to get the wireless to work.

Well, after purchasing my N210, wireless is once again broken of course. Must be something to do with Samsung’s choice of wireless cards. Thankfully help is always on hand and I found the troubleshooting post at the Ubuntu Forums.

Now follow the instructions below (reproduced from chilli555’s forum post):

  1. Open a terminal and type:
  2. sudo apt-get install linux-headers-`uname -r` build-essential

  3. Extract the downloaded file to your desktop and then cd into the newly created directory (rtl8…)
  4. Now do type the following in order:
  5. make
    sudo su
    make install
    modprobe r8192e-pci
    iwconfig

  6. You may find you need to run the 2nd from last command (modprobe) as a normal user in order for wireless to start up automatically next time to reboot.

It’s as simple as that, and if your wireless fails again after a major update, then just run the modprobe command again. But it’s best to save the driver locally somewhere just in case.

For the NC10, Canonical fixed this issue on the next release (Jaunty) so I have faith that this will be a none issue in less than 6 months time also.

Alternative install, provided by Realtek:

1. Change to the driver directory.
2. sudo su
3. make
4. make install
5. Reboot
6. ./wlan0up or ./wlan1up

Notes: 1. If permission denied, change property with `chmod 777 wlan0up`
2. Or enable driver with `ifconfig wlanx up`(wlanx denote wlan interface name).