Wifi failing on *some* networks

I am new to Zorin, and am having a major problem with Wifi. I use networks in different buildings, the first works just fine. The second gives me a "activation of network connection failed" when I try to connect. The signal is showing as excellent, and I have other devices attached with no problems, so I am fairly sure there is nothing wrong with the network. As far as I can see the setting for the two networks are identical. As an experiment I have also tried to use the personal hotspot on a phone - that fails with the same error. Any suggestions would be very much appreciated.

Can you please post the output of

sudo lshw -C network

First to be considered: If you are using a network without any issues, but a different network is causing issues, you might check whether your own network settings are set to ipv4 or to ipv6

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Many thanks for the reply. The lshw gives me the following:

*-network
description: Wireless interface
product: BCM4321 802.11a/b/g/n
vendor: Broadcom Inc. and subsidiaries
physical id: 0
bus info: pci@0000:02:00.0
logical name: wls4
version: 03
serial: 00:21:e9:dd:0f:5f
width: 64 bits
clock: 33MHz
capabilities: pm msi pciexpress bus_master cap_list ethernet physical wireless
configuration: broadcast=yes driver=wl0 driverversion=6.30.223.271 (r587334) latency=0 multicast=yes wireless=IEEE 802.11
resources: irq:16 memory:d0500000-d0503fff memory:d0000000-d00fffff
*-network
description: Ethernet interface
product: 88E8058 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet Controller
vendor: Marvell Technology Group Ltd.
physical id: 0
bus info: pci@0000:03:00.0
logical name: ens5
version: 13
serial: 00:22:41:29:38:f4
capacity: 1Gbit/s
width: 64 bits
clock: 33MHz
capabilities: pm vpd msi pciexpress bus_master cap_list rom ethernet physical tp 10bt 10bt-fd 100bt 100bt-fd 1000bt 1000bt-fd autonegotiation
configuration: autonegotiation=on broadcast=yes driver=sky2 driverversion=1.30 latency=0 link=no multicast=yes port=twisted pair
resources: irq:27 memory:d0400000-d0403fff ioport:5000(size=256) memory:d0420000-d043ffff

On the subject of IP4 vs IP6, I'm not certain which I use. I have them set automatically on both networks. I don't know a lot about networks - how can I find out which one I am using?

Please run:

sudo apt install --reinstall b43-fwcutter firmware-b43-installer

If the above reinstall command does nothing to help you...

From your Settings Manager in the app menu, navigate to the Network tab. I do not use the Gnome D.E. that you find on Core or Pro, I use XFCE, found on Lite and Lite Pro. So I am not sure on the details of finding it, myself.

However, the terminal can be efficiently used:

Scroll down to How To Disable ipv6 and disable it.

Test network connections. If no change, you can use the same link above if you need to enable ipv6.

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I noticed in your posting of Network information that wireless is 802.11 - this might be a capability rather than necessity. Do you have permissions to connect to other networks, or is it setup by an IT Department? I only ask this as 802.11 is an added measure of security that needs credentials.
Whilst browsing I found a very good 23 point troubleshooting guide on WiFi here:

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I think on Gnome this is found under Settings -> Wi-Fi, but in order to get to the settings of a particular Wi-Fi network you have to connect to it first. Only then the little wheel icon will appear:

Note that on this screenshot I'm on a virtual machine so I actually went to Settings -> Network, which is the same but for wired connections rather than Wi-Fi. The interface is the same though.

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Thank you for your suggestions. However, I am afraid I'm not getting anywhere with this.

sudo apt install --reinstall b43-fwcutter firmware-b43-installer

I have tried this. The drivers reinstall OK but it makes no difference, I still cannot connect.

Scroll down to How To Disable ipv6 and disable it.

I have disabled IPV6 - it still fails in the same way.

Do you have permissions to connect to other networks, or is it setup
by an IT Department?

The network is a domestic ISP, and I left it with their defaults. The one that works and the one that doesn't are different ISPs, but I have attached many computers to both and this is the first time I have had problems. I have just noticed that in the building with problems, I am within range if a pay-as-you go hotspot, and I can connect to that OK. The Wi-Fi is definitely working with some networks.

I think on Gnome this is found under Settings -> Wi-Fi

I can see that. The networks that are working show me the usual details. The network that isn't working just gives me the signal strength (excellent) and hardware address.

I have looked through various Wi-Fi troubleshooting guides. However, I have yet to find any suggestions as to why some seemingly identical networks should work and others do not.

This is a very strange thing. I have never seen an issue that a wifi card will reject some networks but accept others that is based on the drivers or the local computer settings.

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Are there any drivers that pop up in 'Additional Drivers'? (Software Updater -> Settings, bottom left)

Sounds weird but, you may have a B43 card that likes the STA wireless drivers (broadcom-sta-dkms). Both B43 cards I have in other devices like the non-STA drivers. A few distros auto-installed the STA drivers but, had to remove and use the 'b43-firmware' one.

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Being that the network card connects to some but not others, and not to your phone, I am wondering if either the card is failing, or doesn't support the frequency that the networks transmit in.

As a test, on your phone, re-enable your wifi hotspot, but configure the band to 2.4GHz, as most now use the 5GHz band. This may be the opposite, where your phone is using the 2.4GHz band and not the 5GHz. Whichever it is, if you can change it, this will allow you to check the compatibility with your computer's network card.

If it connects, you will know that the network card doesn't support the 5GHz frequency, which may be the only one offered in the second building and other access points/routers you are used to connecting. You can request the IT department to enable 2.4GHz band in those other locations. You could enable your phone's wifi hotspot, while connected to the wifi you have issues with, disable mobile data, and use your phone as a pass-through access point.

Most of the routers and access points sold today use the 5GHz band as it is faster. The 2.4GHz is more stable and provides a wider range, but doesn't support the speeds of the 5GHz band. Of course, companies and most people think speed is more important than reliability.

If this test doesn't change anything (still can't connect) I would be inclined to say the network card is failing and should be replaced.

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Brilliant! The experiment worked on my phone, and when I disable the 5GHz band in my router I can connect my Zorin box. I guess I now need to find a new dual band card for my very elderly MacBook.

Many thanks for your help.

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Might want to check this out:

States partial support, not tested with all variants of the B4321 card and 'b43-firmware'. Willing to bet the broadcom STA drivers would be a better fit. :wink:

Also: if it's working in some but not all, that could be the bandwidth frequency incompatibility. With a phone, or hotspot, it's likely to be very low for much more compatibility between devices. Routers usually have this setting, but normally within 20MHz-160MHz for 5GHz WiFi. If your device is a little older, that higher bandwidth range may not play too well - have a few that are like that myself. But having had a few of the B43xx devices and supported a great number of devices with them - when it comes to Linux, the two driver sets differ. A few same model devices that used b43-firmware that I used like the other STA ones. B43xx devices have a very, very long history of being picky on driver type. Just from experience; tons of threads on those B43's!

I envy you. I have a a very similar issue on my VOID install and I am this close to going back to MX

You should be able to run both the 2.4 and 5GHz bands simultaneously, if your router allows it (not all routers have the hardware to run both bands at the same time). If you couldn't connect to the 2.4GHz band while the 5GHz band was running this could be an interference issue.

Either way, I'm glad it helped.

Looks like @337harvey has a better understanding so maybe his advice can help you as well.

My understanding comes from the confusion of some friends having issue connecting to my wifi years ago. It's amazing that these cards have lasted this long (some longer than 7 years) and still function well.

Customizing the router configuration as well as paying attention and using cellular Hotspots will give the same experience.

My old acer was like that... no 5GHz band support, because the 5GHz band was too new for my hardware.

@Kayjzjzk if the above doesn't solve your issue, the wifi card needs replaced. This is, of course, with the expectation that your drivers are correct and you haven't modified the IP configuration (other than manual or dynamic addressing, including DNS).

Routers/hotspots/access points only use two sets of frequencies for wifi (2.4GHz & 5GHz). They use different protocols depending on router and wifi versions (a/b/g/n/ax).

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