Atheros WiFi NIC thinks it’s a Wired NIC

So here’s an odd problem I encountered when installing Ubuntu 16.04 on an old ASUS eeePC 900 for a friend.

 

eeepc-900

After initial install all the hardware appeared to work at first (screen brightness, hotkeys etc). That is until I disconnected the Ethernet cable to set up the WiFi. At this point I discovered that the Wireless adapter was showing itself as a Wired network adapter.

After a bit of searching online, I discovered that the problem is with one of the Atheros kernel modules. Looking a bit more in depth I found a post on a blog online. This post explained that some legacy Atheros Wireless cards, specifically ones using the ath5k module, have an encryption feature to prevent “un-supported Operating Systems accessing the atheros hardware”. (To me this appears to be another way to lock users into M$ Windows but who am I to judge that).

On the same post there were some vaguely worded instructions on how to turn the encryption off. This is what I had to do to fix it:

  1. Open up the terminal and type: sudo nano /etc/modprobe.d/ath5k.conf
  2. Enter your root password when prompted
  3. Enter the following parameter on a new line: options ath5k nohwcrypt
  4. Reboot the computer (or restart the Kernel module if you know how).

After the system rebooted the WiFi card started working as usual. It has worked perfectly fine ever since.

Turn Ubuntu into Xubuntu

I had an old netbook which was too slow to run the new unity 3D. Since unity 2D is no longer available in 16.04, I decided to change to Lubuntu, but I didn’t want the hassle of a complete re-install.

I found this post online which explained exactly how to achieve what I wanted.

Source: https://sites.google.com/site/easylinuxtipsproject/alternative


How-to

This is how you transform Ubuntu 16.04 into Xubuntu 16.04:

1. Installation of the Xubuntu desktop

a. Establish internet connection.

b. Click on the grey Ubuntu logo (Dash home), in the top of the side panel. Use the query Terminal
Click on Terminal

Type (use copy/paste, that’s safer):
sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop gksu leafpad synaptic

Press Enter. Type your password. Your password will remain entirely invisible. not even dots will show, this is normal. Press Enter again.

Now an intensive operation is being launched; simply wait.

2. Log in to the Xubuntu desktop

a. When the installation is complete: log out of Ubuntu. Note: log out, don’t shut down!

b. In the login window, click on the Ubuntu logo next to your user name. Select Xubuntu Session.

c. Enter your password and press Enter. Now the Xubuntu desktop appears! It doesn’t look pretty yet: darkish and gloomy, with probably a lot of icons on the desktop. But all that is easily changeable (more about that that later on).

First: the Great Cleanup!

3. The big cleanup

Now it’s time for cleanup, in order to prevent system pollution problems.

Note: the cleanup will remove as much as possible of Ubuntu’s desktop environment Unity, so afterwards you won’t be able to use Unity anymore!

a. Click on the mouse icon (top left) – Accessories – Terminal Emulator

Copy/paste the following line into the terminal, that’s both easier and safer than typing (it’s one line!):

sudo apt-get remove nautilus gnome-power-manager gnome-screensaver gnome-termina* gnome-pane* gnome-applet* gnome-bluetooth gnome-desktop* gnome-sessio* gnome-user* gnome-shell-common compiz compiz* unity unity* hud zeitgeist zeitgeist* python-zeitgeist libzeitgeist* activity-log-manager-common gnome-control-center gnome-screenshot overlay-scrollba* && sudo apt-get install xubuntu-community-wallpapers && sudo apt-get autoremove

Press Enter. Type your password. Your password will remain entirely invisible, not even dots will show, this is normal. Press Enter again.

b. Reboot your computer.

c. An unintentional side effect of this cleaning has been, that the application Software (gnome-software) has disappeared. You can get this software store back like this:

Click on the mouse icon (top left) – Accessories – Terminal Emulator

Copy/paste the following text into the terminal, that’s both easier and safer than typing:

sudo apt-get install gnome-software

Press Enter. Type your password. Your password will remain entirely invisible, not even dots will show, this is normal. Press Enter again.

Now you can find the application Software when you first click on the button All in the menu. Unfortunately not in any subcategory of the menu, but that’s only a minor annoyance.

d. That’s it! Your Ubuntu has almost completely changed into Xubuntu. But don’t skip the next step!

4. Tweak, tune and beautify your Xubuntu

Lots of tips for tweaking, tuning and beautifying Xubuntu can be found here