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Configure Intel ipw2100 Cards in Novell Linux Desktop

Novell Cool Solutions: Tip
By Aaron Gresko

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Posted: 19 Apr 2005

Getting the Intel ipw2100 wireless cards working in NLD requires a few extra configuration steps. This document will explain how to identify the ipw2100, check for a known problem with the driver module in NLD, and get the card running correctly.

Identify the ipw2100

NLD will correctly identify the ipw2100 and load the driver module during install. Use lsmod to see if the ipw2100 module is loaded. For example:

#lsmod | grep ipw2100

You can also check YaST's network devices to see if the ipw2100 is configured on your system.

Check For Firmware Driver Failure

A known problem with the ipw2100 on NLD involves the firmware image. Licensing restriction prohibit Novell from shipping firmware images for certain wireless cards. The ipw2100 is one of these cards. Additional information can be found at /usr/share/doc/packages/wireless-tools/README.firmware


If the ipw2100 is configured but not working, check dmesg for errors when loading the ipw2100 module. Do the following:

  1. Open a terminal and su to root.
  2. Enter dmesg | grep ipw
  3. The firmware image problem causes a -2 error and a -5 error, as shown in Figure 1.

    Figure 1: dmesg output shows the firmware failure

The error ipw2100_get_firmware failed indicates the ipw2100 module failed loading due to the lack of a firmware image. Also note the version of the module for later. In this case the version is 0.42. This is important because the module version must match the firmware that you download.

Fix The Firmware Driver Failure

Fixing the module load failure is as simple as downloading the proper firmware driver, copying the driver to the proper filesystem folder, and reloading the ipw2100 module.

Detailed instructions are as follows:

  1. The firmware driver can be found at Be sure to download the package for your version.
  2. Extract the firmware file in the package and copy it to /usr/lib/hotplug/firmware.
  3. Unload the ipw2100 module by entering modprobe -r ipw2100 at the console.
  4. Load the ipw2100 module by entering modprobe ipw2100.
  5. Check dmesg and see if the module loaded succesfully.

At this point, the card should run as configured. If the card is not configured in YaST, do so at this time.

Setting up the ipw2100 within Yast2

If the ipw2100 was not configured previously, use YaST to configure it now. To configure the card, do the following:

  1. Start YaST and provide the root password.
  2. In YaST, select Network Devices > Network Card.
  3. If the wireless card is in the Available window, click Configure. Otherwise click Change, select the card, and then select Edit.

    The configuration page is shown as in Figure 2.

    Figure 2: Network card configuration

  4. Set the card to receive IP information from DHCP, or assign the information statically
  5. Set wireless settings for the card by selecting Advanced > Hardware Details > Wireless Settings.

    Figure 3: Wirelss configuration

  6. If an encryption key is not required, leave the field blank. Selecting OK will launch a warning---select Yes to continue.
  7. Click through using Next and Finish to complete the configuration.

YaST will reload the configured interfaces. Use the net applet to select the wireless interface and view operation.

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