all posts hardware linux tech wisdom

Broadcom 4318 Working Under Ubuntu Hardy Heron 8.04 (Ndiswrapper)

In my dad’s PC is a wireless card – a Linksys WRT54GS I think. Anyway it uses the Broadcom BCM 4318 chipset, as seen by a quick lspci:

richard@hades:~$ lspci | grep roadc
00:0a.0 Network controller: Broadcom Corporation BCM4318 [AirForce One 54g]
802.11g Wireless LAN Controller (rev 02)

Unfortunately the new b43 / b43-fwcutter package (installed from / by ‘restricted drivers’) stopped this working. I’m not sure why exactly; it’s possibly because it was designed for a later chipset (I’ve heard 04 for one of the chipsets), but in any case this is moot. It doesn’t work at the moment. This affects PCI cards, some internal laptop wireless cards, and some removable wireless cards.

Now, the card worked under Gutsy using ndiswrapper. So, that’s what I tried to get this working. There is a post at the Ubuntu forums that details how to do this. I’m going to briefly reproduce the procedure here because quite a lot of people are interested in getting their card woking, but thanks to Mazza558 for the info.

1) Remove the b43-fwcutter package
sudo aptitude remove b43-fwcutter

2) Reinstall ndiswrapper

sudo apt-get install ndisgtk

b) Download and install wireless driver
WMP54GS Driver
tar -xzf wmp54gs.tgz
ndiswrapper -i wirelessdriver/WMP54GS.inf

3) Create bash script to fix wireless
sudo gedit /etc/init.d/
Into the file, put:

modprobe -r b44
modprobe -r b43
modprobe -r b43legacy
modprobe -r ssb
modprobe -r ndiswrapper
modprobe ndiswrapper
modprobe b44

Save it, then change the permissions to 755:
cd /etc/init.d/ && sudo chmod 755

And finally execute:
sudo update-rc.d defaults

And then you can reboot and have working wireless, or just (as root) execute the commands you put into the file.

NB: To get a root bash prompt in Ubuntu, execute:

sudo bash

Enjoy your wireless, on whatever card card you have!

Update: Ed points out quite rightly that can be somewhat hard to update using an internet connection if you don’t have a working wireless card. A situation not unlike what good is a phone call… if you’re unable to speak? In any case, you have a number of options, some of which may or may not be possible:

  1. Plug a cable into your ethernet port
  2. Use an old Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon CD to update from. This should Just Work, that is you put it in the CD drive and you will be asked if you want to use it as a repository source (or similar). If not, the
    command is your friend
  3. Download the .deb files manually elsewhere. Get both ndiswrapper-common and ndiswrapper-utils-1.9 (links to mirrors, not direct). Note that ndiswrapper-utils-1.9 has a couple dependencies like perl which you should have, but may not. Save them to a USB flash drive or whatever. Then use dpkg to install the deb files. Or:
    [insert USB drive and cd to it]

    [move USB drive to target machine, open a terminal and cd to the drive]
    dpkg -i ndiswrapper-common_1.50-1ubuntu1_all.deb
    dpkg -i ndiswrapper-utils-1.9_1.50-1ubuntu1_i386.deb

And you should be good to go, even if you are without an internet connection!


Crime in Glasgow Worse Than New York City

I live in a city with a crime rate worse than the Big Apple. Of course, I already knew that.

Actually, I don’t think Glasgow is as bad as some people like to make out. We’ve also long been considered a friendly city. Mind you, we’re also known as the “stabbing capital of Europe”, but what’s a little stabbing between friends?

This post was not paid for by the Glasgow City Council Tourist Board.


"Don't touch property with a bargepole for two or three years"

Recently, I’ve been thinking about buying a flat. I figure if I would struggle to afford renting a place, it would be easier to buy somewhere. Specious logic I’ll grant you, but I figure that with renting all you can really take away is memories, and as fun and good and useful as memories are, I don’t really want to spend several grand on them.

So buying it is.

The problem is that here we have fairly inflated house prices here. In fact, it was considered standard practice to add a minimum of 30% to the listing price (unless the property was fixed price of course). Whether this is still true after the mooted imminent-or-already-occuring property price crash remains to be seen. Regardless, this of course makes buying somewhere in a reasonable area currently unfeasible for me.

Which is why it faintly amused me to read a piece on the BBC entitled ‘Bring on the property crash’. It documents the laments of people like me, trying to get on the bottom rung of the property ladder. Choice quotes include this article’s title, and:

“I went to see a one-bedroom cottage in the country – it had no water, no electricity, no kitchen, no bathroom, no drainage and no sewerage,” Sebastian says. “The asking price was £125,000”


“It’s the buy-to-let owners I blame – not people who rent out the odd flat, but the handful of portfolios that own most of the properties around here.”

I guess the latter has a ring of truth to it – if you buy to let a whole bunch of properties, that’s going to reduce availability and drive up prices. But I guess that’s the way they make money…

In any case, it would appear that now is not the time to buy for investment reasons, although if I do somehow manage to raise enough money to buy a place and I see something worthwhile, I might just buy it. After all, as Izzy Miyaghi says (quoted) in the article:

“I’m not looking for an investment. I’m looking for somewhere to live.”



Let me set the scene for you. It was a picture-skew spring’s day, one where you leave work and marvel at the way it’s still light outside. There I was on the bus, oblivious to the world, with Brandon Boyd singing in my ear. I was on my way to my girlfriend’s.

A few stops along (or roughly towards the end of Pendulous Threads) and a gaggle of (well, three) girls gets on the bus, sitting themselves at the back. Irritatingly, I can hear them over the blare of my (fairly loud) music. I pay their obnoxiousness as little heed as possible, which is somewhat of a feat. Well, not too great a feat – I’m busy texting my girlfriend.

Minutes pass and we get to the ladies’ stop. They make to leave. The last one grabs my phone.

Yeah, I was surprised too. Plus, I didn’t have the benefit of a narrative to point them out.

So I jump up. I like to think I leapt heroically to my feet, my manly frame calling to mind Ajax, Agamemnon or Achilles, but it was probably closer to a Startled Glaswegian than a Great Greek. I shouted something along the lines of “hey” or “oi”, and ran down the bus. As I strode I said – as firmly as I could – “Give me my phone back,” in a tone that definitely implied something Hellenic, while I resisted the urge to add, screaming “you FUCKING BITCH”. She turned to make good her her escape.

Luck had it that I used to be a goalkeeper for my school team, and was as such blessed with (or developed out of critical necessity) good reaction times. I grabbed her wrist. Unfortunately, it was not the one attached to the hand that possessed my phone.

What then ensued was an odd, awkward dance. Her twisting, keeping her other hand as far away from me as possible, all the while shouting various threats and obscenities; me trying to keep ahold of her, reaching for that elusive hand, repeating in ever-louder, ever-firmer tones, “Give me my phone back.” I heard her friends telling her to “jist leave it” and “gie ‘im it back” but she was having none of it. No, she would rather make me out to be the attacker. Mind you, I did have a long dark coat on, and to be honest, the rest of the bus was either bewildered or trying to pay no heed – an even greater feat than mine. They were reading their papers furiously.

In the middle of our grim dance down the bus, she shouts “Let go or I’ll smack ye”. And she did. Several times, as it happened. She caught me once (or twice) in the face with my phone. I did my best to ignore the ignominy of being struck with my own device.

Very quickly we were at the front of the bus. This presented a problem – should she escape I would face a dilemma: pursue her and retrieve my phone, or stay on the bus with the rest of my gear. Luckily, there was one good Samaritan on the bus. A guy who had been waiting with me at the bus stop. He grabbed her arms, which achieved two things: displeased her no end, and allowed me to finally wrench my phone from her grasp. He then let her go and she scurried off the bus to catch up to the rest of her coven.

To him, I am beyond grateful. Unfortunately, I walked back my seat without thanking him, and he got off the bus. I’ll be watching out for him, and I won’t forget his face.

So, I had my phone, and other than a few very minor cuts to my face, no real damage had been done. My question, ladies and gentlemen, is why? Did she not expect me to respond? Or to give up once she started shouting or hitting me? Was she drunk? The yobettes’ behaviour had certainly been slightly odd. Who knows. I’d like to use it as a data point to add to the set of “the decline of British society”, but truth be told, I have a hard time accepting it is as simple as that.

It’s a nice theory and all, that we’re getting worse. It makes for good tabloid articles, and we can all nod in agreement at how Britain is going down the tubes, and how people drink too much nowadays and take part in loutish behaviour, and how there is no respect for neighbours, the community, the police, etc etc. But within this story comes the counterpoint. Someone leapt to my defence. Someone else put their neck on the line (female or no, a headbutt does damage. Just ask any recipient of a ‘Glesga Kiss’. Or anyone who has been kneed in the nuts…), not to mention taking a risk legally – if she’d gotten hurt, you can bet it would be difficult for me (or him) to prove it wasn’t the 6 foot dangerous man that was at fault, but the wee 5′ 6 lass.

He helped a fellow human being who was being wronged. As long as we have those kind of people, Britain will survive. We’ll get through 24 hour drinking, happy slapping, vandalism, and even gangs. As long as we don’t get afraid, or worse – apathetic, we’ll get by just fine. Don’t get me wrong, people need to take more responsibility for their actions. If they eat unhealthily, they’re going to get ill later in life. If they smoke, they’ll increasse the liklihood of getting cancer. If they drink, they are going to stupid things. I don’t have a problem with people doing any of these. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, people can do just about whatever they like, so long as it doesn’t impinge on other folk. And with things that have an increased chance of stupidity (drink, drugs, I’m looking at you) there needs to be *more* responsibility, not less. Or none, like there seems to be for a few people.

I charge everyone to act like the man that helped me. Instead of reading your newspapers as hard as you can, intervene. That is all.


Cannabis Should Stay A 'Class C' Drug

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs are expected to recommend that cannabis remain a class C drug. The BBC reported it this morning, but Drug Education News picked up some other sources that are carrying it.

Steve Rolles, of the Transform Drugs Policy Foundation, said increasing jail sentences from two years to five through reclassification was not the best way to send a strong signal to teenagers about the dangers of the drug.

“Rather than mass criminalisation of millions of young people, the best way would be to invest in effective, targeted public health education”

However, a spokesman for Gordon Brown indicated that the Prime Minister was keen to reclassify the drug despite any potential recommendation to the contrary. From the Independent:

Mr Brown, he said, stood by his comments at his Downing Street press conference on Tuesday when he said that the Government needed to send out a signal that cannabis use was not just illegal but also unacceptable.

“With regard to the Prime Minister’s position, I think he made that fairly clear at his press conference,” the spokesman said.

So once again we have our leaders doing what he wants regardless of advice to the contrary. Hardly surprising really, given he wants to deny us a referendum on the EU constitution. But I guess Gordo knows what’s best for all of us, right?

Thanks again to Drugs Education News from the Drugs Education Forum for the links.