Network doesn't start at boot

I just did a new install on an Acer Aspire One. The netbook only has 1 gig of memory, and I’m trying to make the best of it.

I disabled every service I thought I didn’t need. Except NetworkManager doesn’t start at boot. Yet, the network script which starts NetworkManager is enabled to start at runlevels 2, 3, and 5. If I run /etc/init.d/network, sure enough, it will start NetworkManager.

So the six million dollar question is why the network script either isn’t running when it is enabled at the appropriate run levels, or why it is kicking off, but not starting NetworkManager.

I saw another thread about disabling services to which someone replied, just don’t because ram is cheap. To curtail those responses, upgrading ram in the Acer Aspire One is apparently some herculean effort, even for those with experience tearing apart notebooks. And to curtail responses (like those I got in irc) that I should just give up on NetworkManager and just manually configure the network, this netbook is for my 58 year old mother, so it needs to pass the grandma test. She needs to pull this out of her purse at Starbucks and be able to connect to the wireless network there with minimal effort.

Which brings me to my second problem. Even when I start NetworkManager, it says wireless is disabled. ath5k is loaded, with nothing jumping out at me in dmesg (though I’ll likely look again). I have a wlan0 device, but I can’t even try to configure wireless manually with iwconfig and dhcpcd.

I have been trying to reenable a service, one at a time, and then reboot to see if I can fix the problem that way. If that doesn’t fix it, I disable that service again and try another. This is what I have enabled right now (which again, is intended to be very minimal).

earlysyslog (my mother will never check a log, so can I also disable syslog?)
fbset (I don’t get a bootsplash so can I disable this, or do I need to somehow properly setup an intelfb for this netbook)
java.binfmt_misc (Firefox should load web based jar files through the plugin, right? I can’t imagine she will ever load a local jar file, so can I disable this as well?)
network* (enabled but not running for some reason)

Help would be appreciated! Thanks!

Maybe someone will respond here with the correct answer to your problem. When not, I myself would try to get more info the hard way: by adding tracing to the /etcinit.d/network script. Statements like

echo "We are are here and the value of VAR is $VAR" >>/tmp/networkinittrace

could give clues to your question:

So the six million dollar question is why the network script either isn’t running when it is enabled at the appropriate run levels, or why it is kicking off, but not starting NetworkManager.

Needless to say: make a copy of /etc/init.d/network first.
And start with a

echo "start" >/tmp/networkinittrace

to clean the trace file at every test.

Yours was good advice. However, through dumb luck and trial, and I eventually discovered that I also needed to enable network.remotefs or network doesn’t start.

Given that network.remotefs depends on network, and network needs to start BEFORE network.remotefs, this makes zero sense, but now NetworkManager is starting at boot. Now I just need to troubleshoot why wireless isn’t working all of a sudden.

I installed the 2.6.29 kernel to get the latest and greatest ath5k driver. I may try going back to 2.6.27 real quick, but another Acer Aspire One user mentioned that with the 2.6.29 package, their wireless led lights were finally working.

The Acer Aspire One has a “kill switch” at the bottom right. It disables power to the wireless card for power savings. Except, with openSUSE installed, the switch does not seem to work. Looking online, I see a lot of people who installed various flavors of Linux on their own, that the switch is defaulting to off, and they were fighting to get it on. Sadly, I’m not finding an answer.

Should I start a new thread under hardware/laptops with a thread name of Acer Aspire One, or does anyone here have experience with that switch, or ideas?