Wireless Inspiron 6400 anyone?

Scott Bennett bennett at cs.niu.edu
Sun Oct 22 06:21:41 UTC 2006

     On Sun, 22 Oct 2006 00:06:36 -0500 Patrick Bowen <pbowen at fastmail.fm>

>Lane wrote:
>> Hello,
>> I've a new inspiron 6400 running FreeBSD 6.1 and I can't get Wireless to work.  
>> It works on WXP using the Dell WLAN drivers at 
>> http://ftp.us.dell.com/network/R115321.EXE
>> I've followed the instructions at 
>> http://dannyman.toldme.com/2005/01/05/freebsd-howto-ndisulate-windows-drivers/
>> but no ndis driver shows up after kldload if_ndis.  
>> ifconfig -a looks like:
>> bfe0: flags=8843<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,SIMPLEX,MULTICAST> mtu 1500
>>         options=8<VLAN_MTU>
>>         inet6 fe80::215:c5ff:feb8:39e%bfe0 prefixlen 64 scopeid 0x1
>>         inet netmask 0xffffff00 broadcast
>>         ether 00:15:c5:b8:03:9e
>>         media: Ethernet autoselect (100baseTX <full-duplex>)
>>         status: active
>> mtu 1500
>>         options=8<VLAN_MTU>
>>         inet6 fe80::304f:c0ff:fe9c:7541%fwe0 prefixlen 64 scopeid 0x2
>>         inet netmask 0xff000000 broadcast
>>         ether 32:4f:c0:9c:75:41
>>         ch 1 dma 0

     I hate to be a wet blanket, but the above is most likely not the wireless
card.  Did the Inspiron 6400 come with an IrDA (infrared interface)?  FreeBSD
seems to want to treat the IrDA as an ordinary network interface attached to
the firewire controller.  A Dell wireless card uses, as you noted, a Broadcom
chip set, typically one for which no information has been made available to
open source developers.  Some of the older ones appear to work using the
ndisgen/ndiscvt method.  I've had no luck with that so far on an Inspiron XPS
(the original model) with a Dell 1450 dual-band wireless card.
     I called Dell XPS tech. support yesterday to find out the path to the
correct bcmwl5.inf file in Windows XP Home Ed., and they *refused* to tell me.
They even seemed slightly dismayed that I'd already found the correct
bcmwl5.sys file via the Windows XP device manager.  After more digging around,
I think I've found the correct .inf file, but have yet to find time to try
running the two files through ndisgen to see what happens under 6.1.  Under
5.x using ndiscvt, I got either panics during boot or else other, non-panic
error messages when trying to load the .ko file.

                                  Scott Bennett, Comm. ASMELG, CFIAG
* Internet:       bennett at cs.niu.edu                              *
* "A well regulated and disciplined militia, is at all times a good  *
* objection to the introduction of that bane of all free governments *
* -- a standing army."                                               *
*    -- Gov. John Hancock, New York Journal, 28 January 1790         *

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