Sunday, October 04, 2009

Setting up wifi on Chrome_OS

A few days ago I wrote that I had installed (what I thought was) an alpha verion of Google's much heralded Chrome_OS. Turns out it's just a watered-down version of OpenSuSE 11.1 with a Chrome desktop background and Chrome/Chromium (forget which) as the preferred browser.
Nevertheless, it all fits on a 2GB pendrive which might have been convenient. However, I find this OS to be very, very slow on my computer to the point that it's not worth persisting with particularly as I already have OpenSuSE 11.1 installed and working very well on this computer.
This may be a result of the pendrive although both Mepis 8.0 and Lubuntu work perfectly from pendrive on this machine.
Nevertheless, it comes without a driver for my Ralink 2860 wireless card so I can only get Internet by plugging in a cable which, at times, is inconvenient.
However, by copying over the rt2860sta.ko module from OpenSuSE and then running the commands

# depmod -a

# modprobe rt2860sta

iwconfig now showed that I had an ra0 interface.
Getting it to work, however, was another matter.
I tried an awful lot of things in, unfortunately, a rather disorganized manner which means I can't be truly sure how I got it to work.
Before listing the things I did, however, I have to say that although it works now and again, wifi is not guaranteed to work in Chrome_OS on this machine.
Quite honestly, though, this doesn't really bother me as I'm not at all sure if what I'm using has any resemblance to the real Chrome_OS.
First I tried a lot of iwconfig commands such as
# iwconfig ra0 essid "dlink"

# iwconfig ra0 ap 00:21:91:75:F1:58

# iwconfig ra0 key xxxxxxxxxx

Note that running
# iwlist ra0 scanning

provides a detailed list of the aps available to your wifi card. So this is useful before running the various iwconfig commands.
It may also be useful to run
# ifconfig ra0 up

if your interface is being picked up as down.
Now, at this point I tried to get some dhcp offers running
# dhcpcd ra0

but this just told me that dhcpcd was already running.
Trying to run
# dhclient ra0

just gave a "command-not-found" error.
At this point, as I wasn't getting anywhere, I changed the ra0 interface from being YaST2 controlled to NetworkManager controlled. This required NetworkManager to be installed which went ahead automatically.
However, after a reboot wifi still wasn't connected and NetworkManager was nowhere to be found. Even starting it from a terminal gave nothing, not even an error message.
So, back to YaST2 control and this time I shutdown the eth0 network with
# ifconfig eth0 down

and then I ran the following commands:
# ifconfig ra0 netmask up

# route add default gw

Now I had a wifi connection.
However, as I already mentioned, even this same sequence of commands doesn't always work.

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