Request for Comment: Creating the Initial Wireless Connection

There seem to be a number of people that believe the junk that NetworkManager is
buggy. As I believe the opposite, I want to offer more detailed instructions on
how to create the initial connection, and how to troubleshoot the process. Once
readers of this group have commented on this draft, I plan to ask the moderators
to make it a sticky.


This description will be specific to the KDE desktop. The steps will be similar
for Gnome, but the details may be different.

Step 1:

Do you have a Network Manager applet in the system tray? If not, use YaST =>
Network Devices => Network Settings. Under the “Global Options” tab, click on
the “User Controlled with Network Manager” button. If it is already set, you
will get a warning box when “Network Settings” starts.

Step 2:

Now you should see the NM applet. Click on it and check the popup. If the
“Enable Wireless” checkbox is inactive (gray), there are several possibilities:
(1) Your wireless device driver is not loaded, (2) the necessary firmware is not
available, or (3) an rfkill switch/button is wrong. For (1), check “hwinfo
–network” and check the “Driver” line. If it is blank, then you need to run the
command “/sbin/lspci -nn” if the device is connected to a PCI bus, or “lsusb” if
a USB device. Post the results on the Wireless forum. For (2), look at the
output of “dmesg | grep firmware”, which will list the name of the file(s) to be
loaded. For Broadcom devices that use either b43 or b43legacy, the firmware is
obtained by using the command
“/usr/sbin/install_b43xx_firmware”. You will need a wired connection to complete
this step. For (3), you will also need a wired connection and install the
“rfkill” package using the command “sudo zypper in rfkill”. The interrogate the
current settings with “/usr/sbin/rfkill list”. If any device is “Hard blocked”,
then wireless will be disabled.

Step 3:

Once the “Enable Wireless” checkbox is active, check it and click on “Manage
Connections”. Choose the Wireless tab and click on Add. Enter the name for this
connection. You will probably want to check the “Connect Automatically” box.
Next click on the Scan button. If you do not see your Access Point (AP) in the
map, you will not be able to get a connection. Click on the AP you want, and
click OK. The (E)SSID should be in the SSID box. The other boxes on this screen
should be OK as is. If you have several APs with the same SSID, but you wish to
restrict the connection to only one of them, then you should enter its MAC
address in the BSSID box. This usage is rare. Next click on the “Wireless
Security” tab and enter any encryption secrets. The correct type should have
been selected. For WEP encryption, you will need to use the hex key, not a
passphrase. Once this is complete, click OK to close this screen, and the
configure screen. During this process, a popup should appear offering to use a
wallet to store the connection secret. If you use a password on this wallet, you
will need to enter that password each time you log in. If you set no password on
the wallet, the security level is lowered, but entering a password is avoided.

Step 4:

At this point, you will need to disconnect the wire. Whenever the computer can
make a hard-wired connection, it will supersede any wireless option. The
wireless connection should then occur automatically.

Folks. You can see some of what Larry is talking about if you download and watch this: