Broadcom Wireless Networking Adapters and Linux

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There has been quite a bit of discussion and celebration in the Linux community recently because Broadcom released an open-source driver for their wireless networking adapters. This is, undoubtedly, a good thing and it will yield significant long-term benefits for Linux users. But as the owner of several Broadcom-equipped systems I find the current situation to be a bit of a minefield, so I'm going to write down a few notes about what I had experienced so far.

For purposes of this discussion, I have systems with two different Broadcom adapters - the 4312, such as is in my HP 2133 Mini-Note, and the 4313, such as in my Samsung N150 Plus and Lenovo S10-3s. These two adapters are very different from each other, both internally and in the drivers they use. As far as I understand it, after having read as much as I can find about the newly released Broadcom open source driver, the 4313 and subsequent adapters are supported by the new driver, but the 4312 and previous adapters are not. This, combined with the general difficulties with the b43 driver for the older chips, and the fact that the open source driver is still in "staging", is not generally available in all Linux distributions and does not yet work in some where it is included, make for quite a mess.

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