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Debian, BCM4328 and ndiswrapper

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This is just a small post that may help those who are trying to install the wifi modules of a BCM4328 card on a debian OS using ndiswrapper.

The debian wiki explains very well how to install the necessary windows drivers using ndiswrapper, so I won’t go into details. Here are the main steps:

$ sudo apt-get install module-assistant wireless-tools
$ sudo m-a prepare
$ sudo m-a a-i ndiswrapper
$ sudo ndiswrapper -i /path /to/your/driver/DRIVER/bcmwl5.inf
$ sudo ndiswrapper -l
bcmwl5 : driver installed
	device (14E4:4328) present (alternate driver: ssb)


The problem appears when you load the ndiswrapper module as it conflicts with the ssb module. This renders the ndiswrapper module inoperative: iwconfig doesn’t detect any wireless interface.

The solution is to load the ssb module _after_ the ndiswrapper module. There are many ways to do this, here is what I did:

First of all, check that loading ndiswrapper before ssb works without restarting your machine:

sudo rmmod ssb
sudo modprobe ndiswrapper
sudo modprobe ssb

If you can see your wireless interface using iwconfig, the next part explains who to automate the above process:

Here is what I did to force the right module load order (i.e. ndiswrapper then ssb):

# blacklist the ssb module to prevent the system from loading "by default",
# as root:
echo -e "\nblacklist ssb\n" >> /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf

# add ndiswrapper then ssb in /etc/modules to ask the system to load one after
# the other (order is very important here), as root:
echo -e "\nndiswrapper\nssb" >> /etc/modules

# update the initramfs of current kernel, 
sudo update-initramfs -u

Now, restart your machine to make sure that your wireless card is detected

Hope this helps,

Cheers,
Ignace M -ghantoos-

Sources:
http://darmawan-salihun.blogspot.com/2008/09/ndiswrapper-ssb-bug-in-slamd64-121.html
https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/linux/+bug/227158
https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/linux/+bug/218763
https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/ndiswrapper/+bug/294081
http://pwet.fr/man/linux/formats/modules_conf

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3 Responses

  1. Great howto! I was having a few issues doing this on Debian and this got them all straightened out. Thanks for posting this – Dustin

  2. Hi Dustin,
    I’m happy to see this helped you out.

    Ignace M -ghantoos-

  3. Paul Thomas says:

    Thanks! What a life saver! After a significant upgrade to my Debian
    distro, fixing ndiswrapper was one of those things. This solution is
    what was needed!

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