gNewSense Wireless That Works

Tuesday 15 September 2009 - Filed under Default

Wireless on a laptop is like wheels on a car. Essential.

I’ve been running gNewSense for a few months and have found it to be very stable and kind to me on my HP dv6226us. Unfortunately there are no free drivers for the built in wireless card. That has meant no wireless networking on this baby. So to get by, I either stayed tethered to the nearest ethernet cable or booted into another OS. The Free Software Foundation knows that hardware support is a problem with 100% free software and maintains a list of fully supported hardware. After having seen that, however, I didn’t feel confident that I could make a purchase.

That’s the way things stayed until I heard a couple weeks ago in #gnewsense about the Netgear wg111v3. This usb wireless device was reported there to work with free drivers so I purchased one. I received it yesterday, booted up gNewSense, plugged it in and voila! Within a few seconds I was able to select my wireless network and get online. I’ve tested it with two WPA networks, one using TKIP and the other AES and it works fine. I’m not breaking any speed records (200kB/s max) but I’ve not done extensive testing or tweaking to see what might be holding that speed back.

Since wireless is an essential, yet tricky, feature to have working on a free-software-driven laptop I thought it was worth a blog. So, my fellow free software enthusiasts, you have at least one option when it comes to wireless on gNewSense! If you find this post helpful or know what might bring my speeds up besides the usual range/interference stuff, please post a comment.

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2009-09-15  »  David Sterry

Talkback x 4

  1. Pat
    22 October 2009 @ 2:33 am

    Nice post. I'm thinking of making the switch from Ubuntu to GnewSense soon and I know I'll need one of those too.

    If others want to help document what works and what doesn't, see this page:


  2. Scott
    20 November 2009 @ 5:48 pm

    Thanks for the post. I tried using the Netgear WG111v3 on my Thinkpad T60p running gNewSense, and I have not yet gotten it to work. My brief searching seems to indicate that the free ath9k driver for the WG111v3 requires a 2.6.27 kernel. Current (2.3) gNewSense uses a 2.6.24 kernel. So, I'm confused about how you got the WG111v3 to work right out of the box with gNewSense. Any help I would appreciate.



  3. David
    20 November 2009 @ 6:06 pm


    Thanks for bringing that up. You are correct that it requires a new kernel. The version of gNewSense came from my bootable FSF Membership card and uses 2.6.28-libre-fsf2. You can also get newer kernels at


  4. David Sterry
    11 May 2010 @ 3:38 pm

    Update: I loaded up my Acer Aspire One A110 (zg5) with gNewSense, updated the kernel and found that wireless worked very well on it. Even better than the Netgear though, it’s not like you can just slap an Aspire One on your computer.