Fedora Core on the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 – Wireless via a Billion 7404 VGP
Hmmm… I tried installing Arch Linux only to realise I’m probably not ready for that kind of configurability. Arch looks like a very very nice distro for experienced Linux users, just not for me at the moment.
I thus decided to put FC9 back on the Mini. I’ll write a post discussing imaging drives using dd at a later date. dd makes bit-by-bit copies of any drive. By piping the output through gzip, I’ve managed to get my 16GB SSD drive (the main drive of the Mini) to compress to a 5GB archive! You can even split the archive into manageable parts using split! Oh, I love Linux!
Anyway: wireless. Before restoring FC9, I upgraded the firmware of my wireless router/modem: a Billion 7404 VGP. For anyone with the same router (bought back in about 2002), the 7404VGP firmware will not work! After reading some forums with users with similar issues, I tried the 7404VGP-M firmware… and it worked! Seriously: WTF!?! There was absolutely nothing on the router itself, or in the admin settings, that would suggest it’s a VGP-M, not a VGP. Whatever…
After that, I also downgraded my WPA2 security to WPA (still with a 63-bit encryption key).
After the firmware upgrade and change to WPA, I restored FC9; it appears to have solved all my dropout issues! Not sure if it was the firmware or change to WPA… I don’t care, either way. It works. Of course, I’d prefer WPA2 but I think I’ll leave it all alone for now.
EDIT: I spoke too soon. I still get some random dropouts 😦 Can’t be sure if it’s the router itself, my wireless card, or a hacker trying to catch a re-connection handshake after booting me. Oh well, it seems to work most of the time so I’m reasonably happy.