The Situation

I have a new lappy.  It’s a Toshiba Satellite C655.  It’s got Windows 7 preinstalled and that works just fine.  I’ve been trying to get Linux working, though.  Turns out there’s a problem.  The Atheros (which means gruel or mush in Greek) Ethernet and WiFi chipset doesn’t like playing with the Linux drivers.  Linux works fine as long as I don’t try to bring up either network interface.  When I do, it is able to transmit about 500kbit of data before the system hangs with a nice “Uhhuh. NMI received for unknown reason 2d” message in the kernel log.  It wouldn’t be so bad if it were just a kernel panic – it actually completely hangs the system – no keyboard response, no mouse response, no network, and if any sounds were playing, they’re now just a 1 second clip looping endlessly.

I’ve tried Ubuntu, Mint, Debian, and OpenSUSE so far.  It seems this is a known issue and tons of people have had this issue with laptops that use this chipset.  The only distros known to work are Slackware, gentoo, and Arch, since you can opt to leave out the Atheros drivers when compiling kernels.

So here’s my plan:  Obtain a USB Ethernet adaptor and a USB WiFi adaptor and disable the Atheros chip in BIOS.  Anyone have any other suggestions?

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  1. #1 by Chadwick on December 13, 2011 - 5:58 PM

    No, I really wish I did. I was seeing this when we looked at picking up Christa’s new laptop too. Some asshole gave the laptop a 1 Egg rating over at Newegg because he couldn’t find functional Linux drivers for the wifi card. I’m guessing you checked out the drivers from Linux Wireless?

  2. #2 by Joshua on December 13, 2011 - 6:08 PM

    No I didn’t check there. I didn’t know about that site. Will have to try. I’ll let you know what happens.

  3. #3 by itscool on December 28, 2011 - 9:23 PM

    Have you tried the Ubuntu 11.10? I am using a Netgear WNA1100 Wireless N-150 Usb Ethernet Adapter which uses the Atheros chipset and all is working fine. Word of note, it didn’t work until the new 2.26 and 3.0 kernels came out.

    Btw, I was attracted to your blog via searching Twingly.com and on a whim I entered in “Amiga”. You were in the top 10. Btw, nice blog space. I found that Twingly thing by analyzing my visitors and one of them was coming from there.

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