Resolving network connection issues on Linux Mint (Ubuntu)

So several years after purchasing my smallest form-factor netbook Aspire One I have stumbled upon issue that I couldn’t explain myself. Hopefully this would help somebody and save time it took me to figure out.

Background

The Aspire One was the only netbook with descent (2GB RAM at that time) amount of memory and Linux installation out of box (=minimal support guaranteed). I have used for some time, but than gave up for a while since keyboard proved to be a bit too cramped for my palms and fingers, so extensive use caused some pain. Still it is a nice little piece of hardware that is easy to transport, not expensive (meaning if gets stolen or broken I won’t cry over it :)) and, finally, it is a full-fledged Linux-powered thing with real (althoguh small) keyboard large enough hard disk to host my music collection. All in all, after some time I decided to give it a try.

The problem

Lat time I used the little netbook it was happily connecting to network, browsing, etc using the automagically installed driver. When I tried the same thing next to the main router it was OK, but when I took it upstairs next to the WIFI extender I lost my connection and it couldn’t be restored at all. Inspection of /var/log/syslog revealed many messages like (network name removed):


NetworkManager[820]: Activation (eth1) Stage 2 of 5 (Device Configure) complete.
NetworkManager[820]: Config: set interface ap_scan to 1
NetworkManager[820]: (eth1): supplicant interface state: disconnected -> scanning
wpa_supplicant[884]: Trying to associate with 34:31:c4:2b:20:ec (SSID='NETWORKNAME' freq=2412 MHz)
wpa_supplicant[884]: Association request to the driver failed

So first thing was to disable IPv6 in the network manager. You can do this by e.g. going to the network icon, right click, select “Edit connections…” menu item. Then under the Wireless and then “IPv6 Settings” tab (select one of the networks first) select Method “Ignore”. Phew. Tried again… not really better, but at least one variable from equation is gone.

Further monitoring of the syslog revealed many lines like (date and hostname removed for brevity):


NetworkManager[820]: Activation (eth1) Stage 3 of 5 (IP Configure Start) scheduled.
NetworkManager[820]: Activation (eth1) Stage 3 of 5 (IP Configure Start) started...
NetworkManager[820]: (eth1): device state change: config -> ip-config (reason 'none') [50 70 0]
NetworkManager[820]: Activation (eth1) Beginning DHCPv4 transaction (timeout in 45 seconds)
NetworkManager[820]: dhclient started with pid 25330
NetworkManager[820]: Activation (eth1) Stage 3 of 5 (IP Configure Start) complete.
dhclient: Internet Systems Consortium DHCP Client 4.1-ESV-R4
dhclient: Copyright 2004-2011 Internet Systems Consortium.
dhclient: All rights reserved.
dhclient: For info, please visit https://www.isc.org/software/dhcp/
dhclient:
NetworkManager[820]: (eth1): DHCPv4 state changed nbi -> preinit
dhclient: Listening on LPF/eth1/68:94:23:2d:b6:3d
dhclient: Sending on LPF/eth1/68:94:23:2d:b6:3d
dhclient: Sending on Socket/fallback
dhclient: DHCPREQUEST of 192.168.178.26 on eth1 to 255.255.255.255 port 67
dhclient: last message repeated 2 times
dhclient: DHCPDISCOVER on eth1 to 255.255.255.255 port 67 interval 3
dhclient: DHCPDISCOVER on eth1 to 255.255.255.255 port 67 interval 6
dhclient: DHCPDISCOVER on eth1 to 255.255.255.255 port 67 interval 6
dhclient: DHCPDISCOVER on eth1 to 255.255.255.255 port 67 interval 12
dhclient: DHCPDISCOVER on eth1 to 255.255.255.255 port 67 interval 14
NetworkManager[820]: (eth1): DHCPv4 request timed out.
NetworkManager[820]: (eth1): canceled DHCP transaction, DHCP client pid 25330

Tried hard, failed. Too bad. Right. So what I couldn’t match was that going through the same process next to the main router worked perfectly fine, therefore the netbook was supposed to be right. Well, after hours of frustrations I came across a bug report, which at first had little to do with my problem, but since I was at the edge of giving up I decided at least to see what extra hints I can get.


$ lspci
...
02:00.0 Network controller: Broadcom Corporation BCM4313 802.11bgn Wireless Network Adapter (rev 01)
...

Checking at the Broadcom website as suggested in the discussion revealed that… my driver is not supported! Wow! How the heck did it work so far? Anyway, it was worth trying:


$ sudo rmmod wl
$ sudo modprobe brcmsmac

and ta-ad-a-a-a, my connection was restored. WTF… Well, at least the drivers were installed and no additional fiddling was required. Nice.

Solution

Just follow the instructions in the post above, here is a brief summary:

Add the following line to /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf:


blacklist wl

Add the following line to /etc/modules


brcmsmac

So far network working with router and repeater, public hotspots, etc. Happy networking!

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