After a few hours searching for a USB wifi adapter to purchase for my Debian Squeeze based eSATA SheevaPlug last weekend, I settled on one from Amazon.
Despite the availability of numerous adapters claiming to be compatible with various versions of GNU/Linux (or ‘Ubuntu x.xx compatible’ at least), few of them work with non x86/64 versions of Debian because they require the use of non-Free firmware which is only available for those two architectures. For example, the LM Tech Wireless n adapter has the following warning on its corresponding Wiki page.
Unfortunately I couldn’t find any 802.11n devices that looked like they would work with ARM versions of Debian, and it was often impossible to tell what chipset the advertised product was using (note to retailers: if the chipset cannot be easily determined then a whole market just ruled our your product!).
Therefore I reluctantly bought an 802.11b/g adapter using the RTL8187B chipset, which as far as I can tell from the Debian Wiki should work with all Squeeze architectures supported by the distribution.
It’s galling to have to pay more for an inferior product (I’ve previously purchased 802.11n adapters for £6 that worked with fedora out-of-the-box), but if the adapter works with my SheevaPlug when it arrives then all will be forgiven.
Look out for an update in the near future.
In the mean time please share your recommended Debian Squeeze ARM USB wifi adapters in the comments.
The adaptor that I purchased works perfectly with with my freedombox. A quick addition of my network password to
/etc/network/interfaces, followed by the execution of
ifup wlan0 was all that was required. The adaptor in question is labelled “LogicPro”, and can be purchased from Amazon (don’t forget to use the FSFE donation add-on if you buy one!).
http://www.thinkpenguin.com/ has an 802.11N USB Wifi Card which works great on ARM. The driver and firmware have both been released under a free software license.
Thanks for the link! Their cheapest N adaptor is $54, and shipped from the states. Not a great option for European customers, but at least it’s guaranteed to work.
I think you are ill-advised to recommend these adapters. The seller doesn’t appear to be supporting free software and probably doesn’t understand which chipsets need to be used in order to really be Linux-friendly. Right now the only company that is clearly selling cards with such chipsets is ThinkPenguin. The 802.11G USB adapter is only $44 too. Not $54. You also can’t be sure what adapters will come with when people actually go to purchase them based on your recommendations here.
Most chipsets are pseudo-Linux compatible. Users are reliant on the manufacturers for drivers and firmware. In these situations where the manufacturers have released proprietary drivers or firmware the discontinuation of support can mean the death of hardware.
Everything from graphics cards and printers to wifi adapters can be impacted.
You have like been negatively impacted by non-free drivers here. It may be why ARM didn’t work and/or why 64 bit drivers didn’t exist. They probably will never get support either. For those distributions where these things do work currently there is a high chance the devices will become unsupported real soon.
I’ve seen new printers that have had support for one or two editions of Redhat, required extensive work to get working, and then became paperweights all in less than a year. Of course this isn’t exclusive to printers. It applies to everything.