Atheros 2413 wireless connection issue. Arch Linux, Toshiba Satellite laptop.

I finally bit the bullet and decided to troubleshoot my problem with wireless on an old Toshiba Satellite laptop that someone had given me.  The battery is stuffed and I have to keep it plugged in to use it, but it will be a handy little device to sit on a table somewhere so I can have internet access in another room.

Anyway, I had it working just fine using an ethernet cable directly connected into the back, but I had never managed to get the wireless working.

First I used lspci:

[random@myhost ~]$ lspci | grep -i net
09:02.0 Ethernet controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL-8139/8139C/8139C+ (rev 10)
09:04.0 Ethernet controller: Atheros Communications Inc. AR2413 802.11bg NIC (rev 01)

Apparently I have an Atheros 2413 chip.

Check if the module was loaded by the kernel:

[random@myhost ~]$ sudo modprobe -l | grep ath
kernel/drivers/md/multipath.ko.gz
kernel/drivers/md/dm-multipath.ko.gz
kernel/drivers/staging/ath6kl/ath6kl.ko.gz
kernel/drivers/bluetooth/ath3k.ko.gz
kernel/drivers/net/wireless/ath/ath.ko.gz
kernel/drivers/net/wireless/ath/ath9k/ath9k_hw.ko.gz
kernel/drivers/net/wireless/ath/ath9k/ath9k_common.ko.gz
kernel/drivers/net/wireless/ath/ath9k/ath9k.ko.gz
kernel/drivers/net/wireless/ath/ath9k/ath9k_htc.ko.gz
kernel/drivers/net/wireless/ath/ath5k/ath5k.ko.gz
kernel/drivers/net/wireless/ath/carl9170/carl9170.ko.gz

According to the Arch wiki guide the ath5k drivers should be good.  Modprobe shows them as loaded, so I don’t need to worry about that.

I set up netcfg with the netprofile ‘homewireless’ according the Arch wiki guide.  I bring the network up and I hit a problem straight away.

Problem:

I can ping http://www.google.com but I can’t browse any websites.  When I ssh into the laptop I can ls very small directories, but if there are too many entries then it stops listing the directory.  Running htop in ssh gives me a black screen.

Eventually I figure I’m connected, but I don’t seem to be getting a very fast transfer rate.  In fact the transfer rate seems to be almost negligible.

Time to google for some answers.

Answer is a workaround, not a solution.  It seems there is a bug with 2413 hardware and ath5k drivers.  If you load the module with the option nohwcrypt then it browses fine.  Otherwise it won’t browse.

So I unload my ath5k module:

sudo rmmod ath5k

Then I load the ath5k module with the nohwcrypt option:

sudo modprobe ath5k nohwcrypt

Then I take the network down:

sudo netcfg down homewireless

Then I bring the network up again:

sudo netcfg up homewireless

And wuala!, web browsing is working.

To automate this at boot time you can add this line to a file in /etc/modprobe.d/

options ath5k nohwcrypt

The file you add it to can be your /etc/modprobe.d/modprobe.conf file if you like. That is the choice I made.

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2 Responses to Atheros 2413 wireless connection issue. Arch Linux, Toshiba Satellite laptop.

  1. Marcin says:

    What is the nohwcrypt option? You have disabled it. Is there no encryption anymore? How to enable this correctly?

    • Mustard Lee says:

      You would need to find the answers to that through some other source. My impression was that this affects ‘hardware encryption’, so I’m assuming that it falls back to software encryption. Since this is just my assumption, you would do well to research this yourself if encryption is critical to your use of wifi with these drivers. You can see a short discussion of this issue by kernel developers at this link. https://bugzilla.kernel.org/show_bug.cgi?id=30342

      Good luck.

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