How to Fix Wireless on Ubuntu

Wireless on Linux is a perennial embarrassment. Although the situation has improved immensely since a few years ago, the inability to get wireless cards working acceptably often tops the list of user frustrations. Here’s an outline of what’s wrong with Ubuntu’s approach to wireless drivers, and how to fix it.

Until a few weeks ago, I had the luxury of a wired network connection to plug my computer into. It was great–no passphrases to keep track of, no interference from the neighbors’ networks and no crashing wireless drivers. Then I moved, and now have to use my wireless card to get online. Although I have a chipset manufactured by Atheros, one of the most Linux-friendly vendors around, my connection is a mess, tending to drop under heavy load and requiring several minutes to negotiate a WPA handshake.

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