Gentoo Wiki


The wireless experience under linux strongly depends on the type of hardware. Some cards have an easy setup, some more complicated. Driver stability can also vary greatly.




Before buying a wireless adapter

If you don't already have a wireless network card, it is very important to research and find the best supported hardware.

The major problem with finding the right hardware is that manufacturers will change the wireless chipset without changing the model name or number of their products. So, someone might tell you that FooCard 802.11g works great under Linux, so you buy one, only to find that it's another revision with completely different drivers. Finding the right hardware is actually going to begin with finding the best possible drivers first, then seeing which network devices they work for.

Identifying existing wireless adapter

See Detecting your Hardware for a list of tools to help identify your hardware.

Wireless Network Adapters that work in Gentoo

Rule #1: If it works on the LiveCD, see if you can identify the module loaded that is the driver and load that same driver module after first reboot.


How to Read the Following Tables

The following tables list some wireless LAN adapters by chipsets known to be working. The higher the chipset in each speed category, the easier it is to get it working. For the time being, the Atheros chipset is the best you can get because the new prism54 chipset no longer works with Linux. Feel free to add your working card. (Read this if you don't know how to edit Wiki tables.)

Warning: Manufacturers frequently change chipsets without changing model names, version numbers or even pci-ids. This page should be used as a rough guide only.



Speed Chipset Manufacturer Card Driver H? K? A? Homepage Works
54 Atheros Proxim Gold Orinoco 11b/g PC Card (8470-WD) MadWifi ? Y U MadWifi Perfect
D-Link DWL-G650 AirPlus (11b/g)
Prism54 (old cards only) NETGEAR WG511 V.2 Prism54 ? Y U Good

The Proxim Gold Orinoco 11b/g PC Card (8470-WD) has a socket for a pigtail. This is one of the few cards 802.11g cards that needs not be cut open to attach a (powerful) antenna and amplifier.


Speed Chipset Manufacturer Card Driver H? K? A? Homepage Works
54 Atheros NETGEAR WG311T MadWifi ? Y Y MadWifi Perfect
Atheros SMC WPCI-G (EU) MadWifi ? ? ? MadWifi Perfect
ipw2200 Intel IPW2200 ipw2200 ? Y Y IPW2200 Sourceforge Perfect
ipn2220 LanExpress IPN2220 ndiswrapper ? ? ? Ndiswrapper Perfect
Broadcom BCM4306 Belkin F5D7000 ndiswrapper, Broadcom 43xx ? ? ? Ndiswrapper Perfect
F5D7001 Broadcom 43xx ? Y ? Kernel-built-in Perfect
DWL-G510 (C) D-Link Ralink rt61 rt61 from portage N ? ? rt61 from portage Perfect
DWL-G510 (B) D-Link Atheros MadWifi Y ? ? MadWifi Perfect
RT2561/RT61 Edimax EW-7128G rt61 1.1.0_beta2 ? ? ? rt61 1.1.0_beta2 Perfect
108 Atheros TrendNet TEW-443PI MadWifi Y ? ? Madwifi Perfect
Atheros Gigabyte GN-WP01GT MadWifi Y ? ? Madwifi Perfect
Atheros D-Link DWL-G520 (A,B,C) MadWifi Y ? ? Madwifi Perfect

SMC WPCI-G may also have a RTL8185 chip. There's a (beta) driver available for ~x86, but it's supported by neither wpa_supplicant nor hostapd.


Speed Chipset Manufacturer Card Driver H? K? A? Homepage Works
 ? RT2571 Edimax EW-7318UG USB RT73 ? ? ? ? Yes
g sis163u Trendnet TEW-424UB (V2) ndiswrapper ? ? ? Yes
g++ Texas Instruments NETW1450 AVM FRITZ!WLAN fwlanusb, ndiswrapper ? ? ? Link Kernel panic using >= 2.6.23, you need to either downgrade to 2.6.22 or use the ndiswrapper
b Prism2 NETGEAR MA111 v1 wlan-ng N Y ? Link Yes
b Prism2 D-Link DWL-120 rev. D1 wlan-ng N ? ? Link Yes
b SIS 162? Netgear MA111 v2 wlan-ng - - - Link No
g RTL-8187 Netgear WG111 v2 ndiswrapper - - - Yes, but not on AMD64. Use Windows 98/ME driver.
g RTL 8187 Netgear WG111 v2 rtl8187 - - - Yes, but not on AMD64. Use rtl8187 ebuild from portage.
g ISL3686[-BIZ] US Robotics USR805422 USB ndiswrapper - - - Yes. Use rsc4usb Windows driver. Not 100% reliable.
islsm - - - islsm link Shows up as a wireless device, but won't connect.



There are several sources for wireless drivers.

Linux Kernel

Reportedly the most stable and easy to configure drivers are the ones in the kernel. These include drivers for:

Note: Other kernel source packages (like sys-kernel/zen-sources in the custom-kernels overlay) include patches for other drivers.

Third-Party Open Source Modules

These either already stable, or will stabilize quickly.

Binary Wrappers

Some binary drivers originally intended for windows can be loaded in linux using ndiswrapper.

Warning: The kernel must not use 4k stacks for NDISWrapper to work. Recompile with CONFIG_4KSTACKS=n. This is also under "Kernel Hacking" in genkernel.
Warning: Be sure to remove any files left over by ndiswrapper if it was previously used. Check in /lib/modules/ and /etc/modprobe.d


Simplify, simplify, simplfy. Verify network end via other, working hardware. Try to use a fixed ethernet interface, if possible, to validate your Linux installation. Try without encryption, and with varying levels of encryption. Check that you really have all needed cryptographic kernel modules compiled.

For madwifi cards, remember to install the wlan_wep kernel modules

File: /etc/wpa_supplicant.conf
ctrl_interface_group=100 #Remember to replace 100 with the gid for the user(s) you would like to grant access


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Last modified: Sun, 28 Sep 2008 06:57:00 +0000 Hits: 52,916