Tuesday, November 24, 2009

openSUSE 11.2 on EeePC 701: Wifi works!? Voodoo?

Luv openSUSE 11.2 so much, especially the default KDE 4.3 GUI... I find myself staring and admiring at it... this is big for me as I've not stopped and marvel at GUI for quite a while now... senyum ...

That was all the motivation I needed to install it onto my ASUS EeePC 701 (remember the very 1st netbook?) with 4GB SSD and 1GB RAM. Good news is everything works! Well, when I say 'everything', I meant things that matter to me like KDE GUI with compositing (ie 3D eye-candy), Firefox, OpenOffice and other apps, embedded webcam worked on Kopete and .... *drum roll*, Wireless! What's a netbook if wifi doesn't work yeah?

So, why am I so excited that wifi worked out of the box...? Apparently, wifi should not work with the default ath5k driver as its been reported at OpenSUSE on EeePC page and its true... until, by chance, I got it to work... and I'm going to described it here in very non-technical terms as I still have not figured out how/why it worked... hoping readers will have some good input and theories... maybe even a good technical answer. senyum Here goes:

1) Original challenge: Wifi appears to be available, can scan for SSIDs. However, it failed to connect with my home SSID.

2) Plugged in a Ethernet cable on my home network, just to test if physical network connection would work, I am able to surf the web. Hurray!

3) When I unplugged the Ethernet cable, it suddenly is able to automagically connect with my home wifi. While its a step forward, I am still unable to surf the web. However, I am able to ping all IPs in my home network.

4) Added a network route via route add and I can surf the web! So happy.
route add default gw 192.xxx.xxx.xxx metric 0 dev wlan0 (where 192.xxx.xxx.xxx is my home internal IP range)

Hope this will help those with the same itch/challenge. Would definitely appreciate your inputs on this behaviour. Thanks in advance.

PS: hwinfo | grep -i atheros returns:
info.vendor = 'Atheros Communications Inc.'
pci.vendor = 'Atheros Communications Inc.'
info.vendor = 'Atheros Communications Inc.'
E: ID_VENDOR_FROM_DATABASE=Atheros Communications
<6>[ 4.942343] Atheros(R) L2 Ethernet Driver - version 2.2.3
<6>[ 4.942355] Copyright (c) 2007 Atheros Corporation.
<6>[ 7.105539] ath5k phy0: Atheros AR2425 chip found (MAC: 0xe2, PHY: 0x70)
Model: "Atheros AR5001 Wireless Network Adapter"
Vendor: pci 0x168c "Atheros Communications Inc."


  1. So can you give an update on how it works. I was thinking of going with a LXDE desktop on my wife's 701 since Jolicloud is causing Hulu to be a studdering experience.

  2. If you are interested in switching to decent free software on your PC then read this guide here to help you find good free software replacements for most tasks (as well as some games):

  3. Hi Marc,

    I tried LXDE a while back on my EeePC with openSUSE 10.3 (or 11.0) and the overall desktop GUI response was a little faster.

    From a video playback point of view, irregardless of Gnome, KDE or LXDE, I never had the best of experience as video stream is always choppy... and I do not think its my bandwidth as my other desktops and laptops could playback the same video smoothly.