Configuring Wireless Networks

Wireless networking used to be a pig to configure for Linux, requiring a lot of complicated steps to connect to a wireless network. However, Ubuntu includes a great utility called Network Manager that makes connecting to and managing wireless networks extremely easy. Thanks to the inclusion of several wireless chipset drivers in the Ubuntu Linux kernel, it is now easy to connect to WEP and WPA encrypted wireless networks.

If you have an Intel Centrino-based system, you need to retrieve the latest firmware from, unpack it, and copy the contents of the file to /lib/firmware. For Broadcom-based wireless systems, you need to retrieve the bcm43xx-fwcutter package via synaptic to extract the firmware from the relevant driver file. Head on over to for full instructions on where to retrieve the driver files and how to use fwcutter. When you have extracted the firmware, you need to place it in the /lib/firmware directory.

After you have copied the firmware into the /lib/firmware directory, download and install Network Manager. Retrieve this using synaptic and restart your computer. When you log in, you should see the Network Manager applet appear in the top panel (see Figure 4.14). This is the applet that handles and monitors network connections.

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