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Can I do anything about unsupported wireless card?

asys

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#1
I have asked a similar question in this thread(Thread 59187#post-342471) but I'm not the author of the thread so I figure a new thread would be a good idea.

My laptop comes with Qualcomm Atheros QCA9377 wireless card and I have all the reason to believe that it will not be supported well through its useful lifetime(3-5 years). Now you don't see a lot of people buy laptop and use ethernet as the main way of connecting to the internet for a good reason; it defeats the purpose of having a laptop. I don't have the need for the card to be functional at its full capability. Just basic function is sufficient.

Back to the topic, are there any ways I can get my wireless card to work? Can I get NDIS driver to work on such card because I can't seem to find in-depth explanation of it in the handbook. I actually got pass the conversion part but the thing just won't compile. I'm looking for second opinion as I think FreeBSD project is great and have documentation that is ideal in my opinion.
 

OJ

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#2
Just a couple of random comments. I've seen people plug an ethernet cable into their laptop at work because they have that access at their desk. It's a good idea actually. I'm also guessing it's not actually a card, but built in, so not easy to change. A simple solution is to just plug in a small USB dongle. Lots are supported by FreeBSD and Linux. Cheap and easy fix. :)
 

asys

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#3
I too have used the ethernet(supported on my laptop) for internet connection but that was in an office environment which is not the case here. You don't expect to find RJ45 sockets around in public places do you?;)
 

OJ

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#4
Still, a wireless dongle is cheap and easy. I highly recommend it for your situation.

Edit: I should add that these are in the neighborhood of $5 to $10.
 

asys

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#5
You're right. They are cheap indeed. But choosing which one will work is also tricky too(subject to availability in the market). I just wish I had encountered FreeBSD before I bought this laptop:(. I should've go for something more prevalent i.e. intel stuff.

Still, my question remains. If there's a slightest clue on how I can make QCA9377 works, I'd be very interested to find out.
 

wblock@

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#6
No idea about that particular card, but I routinely replace the wireless cards in notebooks with supported ones. It is generally not difficult unless you have a Lenovo or HP, where the firmware has a short list of cards that are allowed to work. For that and other reasons, I avoid Lenovo and HP notebooks.

As OJ suggests, an external USB wireless adapter is an easy way to go.
 

sidetone

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#7
It is generally not difficult unless you have a Lenovo or HP, where the firmware has a short list of cards that are allowed to work.
Dell should top that list. Typically, they build generic computer components as if they were the ones who patented it. For instance, on a Dell, it is difficult or impossible (impractical) to swap out a motherboard, because the power supply wire will be short enough to barely work on it's original part, or they'll use deceptive camouflage on hardware casings for screws. I expect this extremity for everything Dell does, laptops included.
 

wblock@

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#8
Dell should top that list. Typically, they build generic computer components as if they were the ones who patented it. For instance, on a Dell, it is difficult or impossible (impractical) to swap out a motherboard, because the power supply wire will be short enough to barely work on it's original part, or they'll use deceptive camouflage on hardware casings for screws. I expect this extremity for everything Dell does, laptops included.
I don't see how any of this applies to the question. Dell notebooks in particular work well with replacement wireless cards, I have several and have changed the cards on quite a few.

Lenovo and HP purposely build firmware that prevents the user from choosing a non-vendor wireless card. In other words, buy a Lenovo-branded card at their prices, and good luck getting the chipset you want. Lenovo has said this is for regulatory compliance, which is questionable considering that other manufacturers do not do it. I don't know if HP has said anything about it, but that company has been sketchy since Carly walked away from the burning remains.
 

aragats

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#9
A simple solution is to just plug in a small USB dongle
Yeah, but if you have to move such laptop around frequently, it's not convenient at all with a protruded thing.
I used to install such a wifi adapter inside the case and wired it internally by sacrificing one USB connector.
 

SirDice

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#10
My laptop comes with Qualcomm Atheros QCA9377 wireless card and I have all the reason to believe that it will not be supported well through its useful lifetime(3-5 years).
Are you sure about that? The ath(4) driver is constantly updated and new models are added all the time. Just because it may not be supported right now doesn't mean it will never be supported.
 

asys

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#11
No idea about that particular card, but I routinely replace the wireless cards in notebooks with supported ones. It is generally not difficult unless you have a Lenovo or HP, where the firmware has a short list of cards that are allowed to work. For that and other reasons, I avoid Lenovo and HP notebooks.

As OJ suggests, an external USB wireless adapter is an easy way to go.
If this laptop is out of its warranty period, I'd be happy to do that. I got it mid-2016 so, maybe that won't be a good idea. About Lenovo and HP, the online seller do give warning on installing their wireless card on those two brands. This advice should be useful for those who owns Lenovo and HP.

Are you sure about that? The ath(4) driver is constantly updated and new models are added all the time. Just because it may not be supported right now doesn't mean it will never be supported.
I think I've been misled to believe such thing, maybe, I don't know. I've been searching on how I can get my wireless card to work where I found threads about how wireless card with 802.11ac will not likely get supported in the nearest future. They also point to sources like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_open-source_wireless_drivers where I don't see any single mention of card with 802.11ac capability which gives me the impression that this won't happen in the nearest future for all I care. I was thinking if my 2-3 years old isn't already supported, what's the chance do I have?

What I'm not aware of is that the Wikipedia page on the driver is a little bit behind when it comes to *BSD stuff. I looked at the hardware note for FreeBSD 11 and found iwm(4), a driver that supports 802.11ac Intel wireless card but still, it's a little bit late. If i'm not mistaken, Linux got support for QCA9377 since 3.11 in 2013. But of course it reads, "Written by Qualcomm Atheros", and FreeBSD doesn't enjoy the same treatment from hardware manufacturer.
 

wblock@

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#12
The 802.11ac thing is misleading. The card itself might work, although only in b/g/n modes. Have you tried it?
 

asys

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#13
The 802.11ac thing is misleading. The card itself might work, although only in b/g/n modes. Have you tried it?
No, I haven't. I kinda saw that coming because here https://wiki.freebsd.org/WiFi, makes no mention of 802.11ac whatsoever. Plus, relative OS, OpenBSD have the same thing going own with theirs http://man.openbsd.org/OpenBSD-current/man4/iwm.4. In the CAVEAT section where it states that none of the the 802.11ac capability is supported.

I mentioned about not needing the card to function at its full capability in the original post was based on the belief that support for 802.11ac is left for future work. I just thought maybe the same thing is available for QCA9377(support for b/g/n).
 

scottro

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#15
I'll add this in case google brings people to this thread. For those who don't want a large protrusion from their machine, there's the small Edimax 7811U, usually available for around $10.00 on Amazon.
https://www.amazon.com/Edimax-EW-7811Un-150Mbps-Raspberry-Supports/dp/B003MTTJOY (That link shows it at 7.99) .

You're not going to get 802.11ac speeds from it, but I don't know if any cards get that. Here's an Adrian Chadd article from April 2017 about it.

http://adrianchadd.blogspot.com/2017/04/bringing-up-80211ac-on-freebsd.html

I've seen threads on the forum where I seem to remember people getting 802.11ac speeds, but on my two laptops with cards that can do it, Intel cards using the iwm driver, it's not supported.