Category Archives: Linux

Installing the Broadcom 802.11 STA driver in Fedora 9

Update 15 November 2008: Just a note to mention that I’ve packaged this up into an RPM and so this driver is now available as an RPM in the rpmfusion repos for Fedora 8, 9 and 10.

See this post for instructions of how to install using the RPM version (much easier!).

Update 26 January 2009: These instructions are now fairly outdated. The latest releases of the broadcom driver don’t require the same patches as mentioned here to make them build correctly against recent kernels. I highly recommend using the RPM installation instructions linked above, or if you require help with building the latest drivers please drop me a message or leave a comment below.

Happy, happy days! At long last, a Linux Broadcom driver for the BCM4328 chipset that doesn’t require ndiswrapper and Windows drivers. For me, this is really, really huge: ndiswrapper has never worked properly with NetworkManager using WPA security but this new Broadcom driver seems bullet-proof. It is even supposed to support 802.11n standard but I can’t verify that just yet.

The source packages currently available from Broadcom (version 5.10.27.6) don’t build on the current Fedora 9 kernel (2.6.26.5-45) and probably won’t compile on any newer kernel either. Digging around a bit I found a patch that makes the driver build successfully.

Great, but that’s not the whole story: I then found that with the new driver I was unable to SSH or telnet into any remote servers – bummer. However, some more digging turned up another patch that fixes this problem. With these two patches in place the new driver really rocks. For the first time in 10 months (since I bought my MacBook) I can actually connect to WPA secured networks using NetworkManager – no more fiddling around with wpa_supplicant scripts for me!

Anyhow, here’s a little how-to guide to install the new Broadcom driver in Fedora 9. Note: I’m a little unsure of which Broadcom chipsets this driver actually supports but I can confirm that it works beautifully with the BCM4328 which is standard on MacBook 3,1 and 4,1 versions.

Important note: Since writing this guide Broadcom have released an updated driver (v 5.10.27.11). The updated driver and updated patches can be downloaded here along with the original driver/patches mentioned in this guide. Adjust the instructions below according to the version you are using.

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Custom build of synaptics for Fedora 8 x86_64 on MacBook

Based on the patches found in this post over at Ubuntu forums I have created an updated synaptics touchpad driver RPM package for Fedora 8 x86_64.

As the original author notes, this makes it more enjoyable to use the touchpad while using the MacBook. It does two things:

  1. Adds the option “MultiFingerButton” to synaptics. This allows us to configure the touchpad to right-click and middle-click by placing two or three fingers on the pad and then clicking the button. In my experience this is far more reliable than the “two finger tap” method of right-clicking.
  2. It makes the mouse arrow more stable – I have found this to be a HUGE improvement in usability over the stock synaptics driver. With the original driver, if you put two fingers on the mousepad and release only one, the mouse arrow moves. This is the default behaviour in Linux and Windows, but in MacOSX, the mouse arrow stays put, and in my personal opinion, this is a much better behaviour. This patch makes it behave just like MacOSX. This may not sound much, but you’ll find it makes a huge difference to the stability and usability of the touchpad.

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Fedora 8 x86_64 fixes for battery being reported twice error

The latest 2.6.25.x Fedora 8 kernels have both ACPI_PROCFS_POWER and ACPI_SYSFS_POWER turned on and this can cause a strange problem with HAL which results in it incorrectly displaying the same battery twice and reporting incorrect charge levels for the “bogus” battery. This in turn creates problems with power management software such as kpowersave and gnome-power-manager.

I have only seen this reported on some specific x86_64 machines but it may affect other architectures too.

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Banshee 1.0 RPM for Fedora 8 x86_64

Banshee Media PlayerBanshee 1.0 was released on June 5 2008. At the time of writing I haven’t been able to find an official Fedora 8 RPM build so I have built my own using the Fedora 9 source RPM and made it available here for you to download and install.

For those that don’t know, Banshee is a great multimedia player for Linux with support for iPod syncing, podcasts, streaming radio, video and lots more. For iPod owners Banshee is one of few viable Linux alternatives to iTunes.

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Simple Linux to Amazon S3 backup script

There are many tools available to help backup Linux systems to Amazon S3 but finding the right one to use can be difficult. Jeremy Zawodny made a good list of various S3 backup tools which is very helpful, if a little outdated. I experimented with a few tools, including some of the standard scripts published by Amazon but I found each had their own shortcomings.

One tool that is very simple to use is s3cmd which is a linux command line tool to upload, retrieve, and manage data in Amazon S3. The tool is written in python so should install and run on pretty much any modern linux distro and I have found it works very nicely and seems to be an ideal tool to use if you want to write a basic backup script.

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Fedora kernel fixes and files for MacBook 3,1 (Santa Rosa)

Following on from my previous post, I have been making some RPM packages available for Fedora 8 and the MacBook 3,1 Santa Rosa.

The kernel packages are not needed now since Fedora 8 kernel 2.6.24.3-50 (and newer) already contains the MacBook specific fixes. However, at the time of writing the gstreamer packages are still required if you want to use gstreamer based applications with the MacBook iSight camera.

Before downloading, please take care of my bandwidth. If you don’t need the package, please don’t download it.

You can download the packages here.

There is also this thread at fedoraforum.org which may be helpful.

If you find any problems or have any suggestions please let me know.

Installing Fedora 8 on a MacBook

The MacBook is great, but OS X is not really my cup of tea and I choose not to use Windows. Luckily Fedora 8 works like a charm on the MacBook and with a bit of configuring you can get all the hardware working properly.

I couldn’t find any information on the lazyweb about installing Fedora 8 on a MacBook so I recorded what I did and made a detailed how-to which is posted in the wiki over at mactel-linux.org. The guide shows you step-by-step how to install and configure Fedora 8 x86_64 on the MacBook and works with both MacBook version 3,1 (from late 2007) or version 4,1 (from early 2008).

Big up to the guys at Fedora who gave in to my relentless nagging and integrated some of the mactel-linux patches into the latest Fedora kernels. Without them I’d still be spending my weekends rolling kernels!

If you find the guide useful or have any comments or suggestions then let me know.