Working AC Wifi dongle/card

Have asked this question previously re dongles, but am now even will to install a pcie card, if necessary…
Are there ANY known working/reliable AC wifi adaptors for opensuse/linux in general? A VERY weak area, apparently, for linux…

Probably nearly the same advice since forever…

The first thing to understand is that Linux support for network adapters rarely is based on the brand name or manufacturer of any device, it’s the chipset in the device that is important.

The sticky posts in the Wireless forum can give you a good idea how to read the chipset info, but your use of the info would be a little bit reversed… The stickies are written for how to troubleshoot a device in hand while you’re still in “pre-purchase” mode.

Linux wireless drivers today are mostly distributed through the Linux kernel so you normally shouldn’t have to find, sometimes compile and install drivers separately. Broadcom is a particularly well known example of where things may not work out of the box.

Armed with the above info,
I’d recommend shopping in this order…
Compile a list of your own available WiFi dongles first which have the features you’re looking for and in your price range.
Only then, do an Internet search on each for their Linux support based on the chipset in your list of dongles (which you should find in the technical specs of the candidate devices)
Maybe only then narrow down the dongle to a specific manufacturer brand and model for things like documentation, support and warranty.
Maybe do a quick survey of blogs and comments on the Internet by Users on their experience installing in Linux, focusing on the last year or so (the more recent the better).

By the time you actually make a selection, pay for a device and you plug into your machine, you should already have a good idea about your chances of a problem free install and performance.


Probably not really my place to ask the question, but surely Linux, in general, should be doing something to improve compatibility with Wifi standards/chips/‘bits’ as they are updated??
Not as if Wifi is unimporatnt?
Just my thoughts…

More a misunderstanding on your part. It takes support from the vendors to write such drivers, otherwise tedious reverse-engineering work can be needed to create open source drivers. What you can do is lobby such vendors to provide the necessary support. Sometimes, it is possible to tweak an existing driver to recognise a new chipset and have it functioning with minimal effort, but usually additional support needs to be added to a driver, or even a new driver written. en:vendors:vendorsupport [Linux Wireless] Larry Finger is one such developer (drivers for Realtek hardware)… lwfinger · GitHub

Have a look here: en:users:drivers:ath10k [Linux Wireless] and en:users:drivers:iwlwifi [Linux Wireless]

I have a couple of HP Laptops here running the AC 3165 and iwlwifi driver, one on Leap 15, one on Tumbleweed…

Malcolm raises a valid point…
Although my guess is that your machine isn’t a laptop because you offered to install a pcie card, (or are you referring to a PCMCIA Express card which is different?),

If you’re already in possession of a WiFi network adapter of some sort,
It’s probably worthwhile to see if with a little help from people in these Forums you might be able to get it to work.


Generally Laptop are all PCIe half size slots (even my Intel Desktop M/B’s have a PCI Express Full-/Half-Mini Card slot ;))… But yes a PCIe X1 or X4 would be a different kettle of fish, it’s all down to the chipset, even USB dongles by the same model number and manufacturer can all have different chipsets causing more headaches for folks…

Maybe in some places what you describe might be conventional, but I’ve only ever known PCIe to refer to the bus type and not a form factor.

Here is a Wikipedia article which conforms with my understanding, the full vs half card form factors actually refer to the slots you’d see on server and workstation AT style (including ATX) motherboards, not PCMCIA slots. There are also pictures of the card slots.


So the Intel Motherboards have a PCIeX1, a PCIeX4 and the PCIe PCI Express Full-/Half-Mini Card, in that last slot I can use a wireless card or a M.2 SATA SSD, I have a HP motherboard with the same slot and used a wireless card in there (and antenna from a junked laptop), it had two PCIeX1 slots, in there I had a dual port ethernet card, the other had a dual port SATA 6.0 card, used the wireless for management, the onboard and two other ethernet ports for VM’s…

There is an online PDF of the Intel board, google on “Intel® Desktop Board DQ77MK Technical Product Specification”

Honestly I don’t remember the last time I had problems with any WiFi hardware on Linux. Keep in mind majority of the phones run the Linux kernel and have WiFi hardware working so the support seems to be pretty good :slight_smile: I’d argue that WiFi support is better on Linux than any other OS.

“Most phones run Linux” can only be if you consider Android “Linux.”
Android runs a Linux kernel, but beyond that it might be hard to recognize Linux… The security is mostly different, the I/O libraries are entirely different and can’t even be migrated to a common Linux distro easily and a lot more. In many ways, Android is fundamentally not Linux although there is an effort to eventually re-integrate.

If you want to focus specifically on wireless, the differences are even more stark.
Open up, or take a look at a picture of any Android phone’s interior and you can see the dedicated chipsets… You can identify the specific chipsets that support <only> Android and User apps, specific chipsets for WiFi, specific for GPS, specific to other sensors. In other words, a lot of what is done by software in our common Linux is done in hardware on a phone.

If you also scan the various efforts to run common Gnu Linux on phones, you’ll also notice very few efforts… eg the now defunct Ubuntu Phone, Cyanogenmod which became LineageOS, and little more. It’s just near imposible for proprietary hardware and open source to make nice. Android works because of the licensing agreements it can make largely because the manufacturers recognize the need for a working OS like Android, but they are have no motive to open up their architectures to the general public which would is what Gnu Linux would require.

So, although support for WiFi NICs has greatly improved since the effort to distribute all peripheral drivers through the kernel, it still is a different solution to solve different problems compared to phones.