Laptop WiFi adapter refusing to work

Hello everyone,

I know that this is a common issue and there is quite a bit of posts about this already. However after researching for over a week now and trying all of the methods that I have come across, I STILL can not get Zorin-OS to recognize my laptops built in WiFi adpater.

I will further preface by saying that I am technically savvy and a current IT support professional, however I am very new and novice to Linux so I apologize if my troubleshooting seems a bit... bad. I am here to get this fixed but to learn as well.

I will outline everything that I know and have tried below. Totally willing to repeat and try some steps again!

Hardware:
Lenovo YOGA 7i 14" Laptop
Part Number 82YL0002US
13th Generation Intel® Core™ i5-1335U Processor
16gb RAM
512gb M.2 Hardrive
Wi-Fi 6E 2x2 AX
Bluetooth® 5.1 or above

Software:
Zorin 16.3 Pro
Zorin 16.3 Lite
Zorin 16 Pro
Zorin 16 Lite

Configuration:
I have just the one hardrive, wiped it completely, and installed Zorin as a standalone OS for every single step of this journey and this is my desired end result, if possible.

Issues:
WiFi does not work because the WiFi adapter can not be recognized by the operating system.

Troubleshooting steps: (mostly in order. Also did a reboot after each step)

  • Attempted to check if WiFi was disabled due to any keyboard shortcuts, settings, switches, etc on the laptop. Airplane mode is off and there are no other toggles for my laptop
  • Ran updates through a variety of measures
    • sudo apt-get update
    • sudo apt-get upgrade
    • through anything that showed in the software center and the package manager
  • tried changing the power-save configuration via:
    • sudo gedit /etc/NetworkManager/conf.d/default-wifi-powersave-on.conf
  • tried manually downloading the drivers from Intels website, unzipping them, and copying them to /lib/firmware
  • Installed "backport-iwlwifi" (I don't remember the exact commands)

Outside of troubleshooting in Zorin I tried some other things:
Installed other OS's to see if the card would work at all
- Fedora: worked fine
- Ubuntu: worked fine
- Mint: worked fine
- POP!: worked fine
- Manjaro: worked fine
- Debian: worked fine
- Kali: worked fine
- Tails: worked fine

Which led me to try different Zorin versions. I tried all the way down to 15.0 and none of them, by default, recognized my wifi.

So I tried playing with the kernel versions... Just about every kernel I tried after 5.15 WORKED! The WiFi came up no problem. HOWEVER, in every single kernel version I tested (literally like 15 or more) there was some tradeoff like graphical glitches, sound devices not working, issues with my thunderbolt dock, and other instability.

I since installed POP! because I need to use my machine to study for exams, but I really REALLY want Zorin OS to work because I think it is a lot better. It works just fine on my older ThinkPad with absolutely no issues and perfect stability. But that thing is like 10+ years old and falling apart.

Here are some outputs that I see asked for:

sudo lswh -C network

*-network UNCLAIMED
description: Network controller
product: Intel Corporation
vendor: Intel Corporation
physical id: 14.3
bus info: pci@0000:00:14.3
version: 01
width: 64 bits
clock: 33MHz
capabilities: pm msi pciexpress msix cap_list
configuration: latency=0
resources: iomemory:600-5ff memory:601d1d4000-601d1d7fff
*-network
description: Ethernet interface
physical id: 3
bus info: usb@4:3
logical name: enx0050b6bd86bd
serial: 00:50:b6:bd:86:bd
size: 1Gbit/s
capacity: 1Gbit/s
capabilities: ethernet physical tp mii 10bt 10bt-fd 100bt 100bt-fd 1000bt 1000bt-fd autonegotiation
configuration: autonegotiation=on broadcast=yes driver=ax88179_178a driverversion=5.15.0-88-generic duplex=full ip=###.###.#.# link=yes multicast=yes port=MII speed=1Gbit/s

sudo rfkill

ID TYPE DEVICE SOFT HARD
0 wlan ideapad_wlan unblocked unblocked
1 bluetooth ideapad_bluetooth unblocked unblocked
2 bluetooth hci0 unblocked unblocked

uname -r

5.15.0-88-generic

Wifi 6 is notorious.

I might make a different suggestion considering the entirety of your post: Grab a Linux-Friendly Wifi adapter off of your preferred retailer and use that instead of the built in Wifi 6. This is because the Wifi 6 card may work fine at first, then dodge out on the next upgrade.

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Might be worth noting, the other distros listed as 'working', some have kernels 5.19.x / 6.x.x or newer.. A lot of what I found were kernel related. Not saying that's the absolute case but, is a difference as ZorinOS uses 5.15.0-88. One other possibility would be Secure Boot - with that enabled, it likes to mess with the video and WiFi adapters; mostly rendering them useless / unavailable.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:tuxinvader/lts-mainline

sudo apt update && sudo apt install linux-generic-6.03

Very good point.

Yeah that makes sense. A lot of those distros were on 6.0+ kernels. Currently on my POP! installation it is on 6.5.6

From the get go secure boot has been off, as that was a prerequisite for my machine to even see my installation media lol. I should have mentioned that.

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I will give 6.03 a shot. I can't recall if that was one of the many that I had tested or not.

Do you know if this is something that I can look forward to seeing resolved in the future? Is this just the current state with Zorin and WiFi 6 and will new releases address this? Or do you foresee this being an issue for some time?

Zorin OS progressively upgrades the kernel regularly.

In the meantime, Zorin OS 17 is in current development and is hoped to be released by the end of the year.

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I had to go that route on a 5-year-old Dell, and a new Acer Note - no issue with my Yoga's wifi card yet, but replacement adapters are reliable and inexpensive and not prone to heat damage that some installed cards reap.

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What I would suggest:

@Scooter, first off, welcome to the community. We're glad you got here with little issue.

Thank you so much for posting a very detailed query, as it leaves little doubt as to the issue. Though, once you mentioned the model of your wifi, it was a no brainer.

Unfortunately, with new technology, especially standard changes, there is a period of incompatibility. Especially in Linux. Intel does not lend support to the kernel or any issues that arise from a failing driver.

Wifi 6, being a new and not yet mainstream standard, will have flaws in its functionality.

Zorin 17 will most likely solve most of your issues, even if you must run a newer kernel.

Just because there is a focal port of the newer kernels doesn't mean it runs problem free. Some of the software that accesses the kernel still use libraries that the kernel expects to be of a newer version. This is where you are getting the intermittent issues when resolving others.

Your best bet is to use Zorin 16, with the kernel that gives you the most tolerable side effect, or continue to use pop until Zorin 17 is released.

Even when Zorin 17 is released, you may find that you will have to use a newer kernel than what is provided, but it should minimize the side effect issues that you are seeing.

In the meantime:

https://www.thinkpenguin.com/gnu-linux/penguin-wireless-n-usb-adapter-gnu-linux-tpe-n150usb

Thank you for this. It helped me understand the relationship between the distribution itself and kernels. These things make a little more sense to me now.

I will eagerly await Zorin 17! In the meantime I am glad that I will still be able to enjoy Zorin on my older hardware for the time being.

The part number is the model number: Part Number 82YL0002US

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The kernel is the layer directly accessing your hardware that gives the OS and other software the access necessary to perform their operations.

The OS and Desktop Environment interact with the kernel to access hardware. Some of the libraries that assists the interaction.

A kernel may introduce some newer libraries, but not always. This can cause issues when the drivers in the kernel, that recognize and support newer hardware, interact with libraries that don't have the functionality expected for that newer hardware. Bugs make themselves more apparent in these situations, usually causing issues that are not apparent if the functionality is present and supported.

Obviously this is a very simplified explanation of the interactions between the OS, DE and kernel, but should help increase your understanding of how Linux works.

You will find that many of your knowledge from windows is transferable to Linux OSs, though the underlying mechanics are performed differently.

Linux has the /dev, /var, /opt and /usr/share directories versus windows registry. The kernel in Linux would be the integrated modules that interact with the devices and hardware in Windows. Gnome, KDE, XFCE and others are equivalent to File Explorer (Desktop, not File Manager) in Windiws. GTK and QT are the graphics libraries for Linux and Windows.

It wasn't long ago that I was in your shoes, uncertain and mystified... it won't be long before you notice the similarities, differences and that under it all, they are both built on the same principles and standards that have defined computers for decades.

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