Linux Mint – Connecting to a wireless network

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Like wired networking, the ability to utilize a wireless card in Mint depends on whether drivers are included in the version of the kernel that ships with your release. Wireless support is fairly good in Linux, but a few vendors are more problematic than the others. Thankfully, Linux Mint has gone to great lengths to support as many wireless cards as possible. There’s a good chance that yours will be supported as well.

The icon mentioned earlier for wired connections (located near your clock in the system tray) is also used for wireless connections. If you click on this icon, you should see your local wireless connection listed in the pop-up menu that appears. The following screenshot shows the network connection menu available from the panel, showing an available wireless connection:

To connect to a network, simply click on it. If a password is required, it will prompt you to enter it. Once you enter the correct password, you should see a message that says you’re connected. From this point on, you’ll automatically connect to that network whenever you’re in range of it.

Note

You can set up a static IP address for a wireless network as well, should you need to do so. The way to do it is exactly as mentioned in the previous section, though you’ll edit your connection underneath the Wireless menu, instead of the connection under the Wired menu.

If, for some reason, you don’t see your wireless network available in the list, the first thing you should check is whether or not your wireless card is enabled. Especially with laptops, it’s far too easy to accidentally nudge the hardware switch that enables/disables wireless communication (if you have such a switch). Some laptops have a keyboard key designated to control wireless access; it is very easy to press this key by mistake. Some laptops have the wireless toggle switch on one of their edges. This switch can often catch on the way in and out of a bag.

If you’re sure your wireless card is turned on and you still don’t see your network listed, your wireless card may not be supported by default. It’s possible that Mint’s Driver Manager may have a driver available for your card. If so, install it and you should be good to go after a reboot. If the Driver Manager doesn’t have what you need, manual troubleshooting may be required.

In a nutshell, manually troubleshooting the inability to use your network card is done by first identifying the model of the card and then conducting a Google search for clues. This may seem like a silly approach, but it’s surprisingly effective. If you have a problem with your hardware, it’s unlikely that you would be the first person to encounter a problem. A typical Google search for Linux compatibility with specific hardware may include results from someone who has already solved the problem. To find your model number, execute the following command:


lscpci | grep Net

The output of this command will look similar to the following command:


00:19.0 Ethernet controller: Intel Corporation 82579LM Gigabit Network Connection (rev 04)
03:00.0 Network controller: Intel Corporation Centrino Advanced-N 6205 [Taylor Peak] (rev 34)

In the preceding example output, you see two network cards: the first is the wired card, and the second is the wireless card. We know this because of the Advanced-N designation in the output. The model number of the wired card in this example machine is Intel 82579LM and that of the wireless card is Intel 6205. Therefore, we can conduct a Google search with key terms such as Intel 6205 Linux support or 82579LM Linux Support to look for results that may point to clues. As mentioned earlier, if you’re using a recently released version of Mint, you most likely won’t experience issues.

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