[plug] Wireless dropouts

Paul Antoine pma-la at milleng.com.au
Sat Jan 3 08:02:50 WST 2009

Hi Blake,

This is being written on a Dell laptop with the ipw2100 under Ubuntu 
8.04 and all is working very well.  I also use an old IBM T30 Thinkpad 
with an ipw2100 that I installed myself and that too works fine.  Both 
have been flawless on any number of different wireless networks to which 
I've connected in my wanderings.

In my experience the Billion routers are extremely reliable units and 
given that the other MacBook/Netbook are connecting fine I'd think it's 

I would tend to suspect wireless hardware first when diagnosing a 
problem like this and in particular adapter hardware as I've found a 
very wide range in their abilities and foibles.  Adapter driver software 
is the next suspect... only rarely have I found an issue with a router.

The ipw2100 in the T40 will be under a small hatch in the bottom of the 
laptop - I'd check that the connections to the two antennae are plugged 
in firmly (they may have wriggled loose.)  Having one or other of the 
two loose would account for your being able to get a reliable signal 
when sitting close to the router.

I have no experience with CentOS, but perhaps try booting the T40 with 
Ubuntu 8.04 on the live CD to see if you get a better wireless link due 
to the driver being used (after checking the antennae.)

I've not encountered the Linksys 54G USB adapter so can't comment on it.

I *have* found that the best wireless adapters are those that use the 
Atheros chipsets... they seem to lock and hold onto weaker signals 
better than any other and get better speeds.

Let me know if any of this helps :-)


Blake Munro wrote:
> Hi pluggers,
> Our house is primarily *nix based. We have one PC (a netbook!) which 
> has Windows XP installed, 1 Ubuntu PC, 1 CentOS PC and a Macbook.
> Both the Ubuntu & CentOS PC's have constant dropouts with wireless. 
> The Mac and Windows box are perfectly fine.
> Ubuntu PC has an rt73usb (Linksys 54G USB adapter) and the CentOS 
> machine is an IBM T40 laptop with built in ipw2100 (Intel wireless).
> It only seems to happen when you are just that 'little bit' further 
> away from the router. The Ubuntu PC is in the room next door to the 
> router, yet the laptop is normally used up the other end of the house.
> The Ubuntu PC is somewhat more reliable than the laptop, however it 
> still requires a reboot about once a day. Once the connection drops 
> out, it just refuses to re-establish it without a reboot. Restarting 
> NetworkManager or any other networking services has no effect.
> The laptop on the other hand will work perfect if I am sitting right 
> next to the router, yet as soon as I move into a different room it is 
> as flaky as all hell.
> The netbook (Acer Aspire One) with WinXP and the Macbook work out on 
> the street verge, so it can hardly be directly blamed on a poor signal 
> from the router. Even my smartphone can get 2 out of 5 bars from the 
> Wi-fi standing outside, and it can hold the connection stable for ages.
> It just seems to me that Linux is being extremely fussy in one way or 
> another and is really poor when it comes to holding up the signal.
> I tried my mate's D-Link 604GT (I think that is what it was) and the 
> wireless signal was quite poor on that, even with the Windows PC, but 
> it did not seem to drop out as much on the linux machines.
> Is my only option to give up and go out and purchase a new router? 
> I've had a good innings with this Billion 7402VGO, I purchased it as 
> soon as they came out, which I think was about 2004 or 2005 and it's 
> always just 'worked'.
> I have tried using WEP, WPA, No security etc. It seems to make no 
> difference. I currently have WPA/TKIP set up.
> This is something that has been annoying the heck out of me for ages 
> and I would love to be able to get to the bottom of it!
> Any input would be greatly appreciated. Cheers :)
> Blake
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