For a while I wanted to put a PCI Wi-Fi card into my Fedora 8 box running MythTV so I can remove the rather annoying LAN cable running through my appartment. Anyone who has ever tried finding a PCI Wi-Fi card or USB Wi-Fi stick for use on a Linux box knows what a challenge it is to find one that’s actually supported. And by supported I mean out of the box and not through NDISwrapper. But with the much appreciated help from the Linux wireless LAN support webpage by HJ Heins I found the Conceptronic C54Ri 54Mbps Wireless Network Card that should work. The card has a RaLink chipset and these days that seems to be your best bet if you want anything Wi-Fi to work on Linux (besides Intel off course).
The card is about €25 and comes with a small manual and a cdrom with all sorts of Windows stuff on it so I quickly put it back in the box. I installed the card, rebooted the PC and amazingly enough it was instantaneously recognized, the rt2500pci and related kernel modules automatically loaded and ready to be configured. That’s the cool thing about Linux. If it’s supported then it really works straight out of the box. Kudo’s to RaLink, the people from the RT2X00 project and the kernel developers for making this such a breeze!
With my shiny new Wi-Fi card installed and recognized I noticed that the output of iwconfig showed that the card was assigned wlan1. Strange as I would suspect it be wlan0 given the fact that it was the only Wi-Fi card in the box. So I checked /var/log/messages I noticed this message:
udev: renamed network interface wlan0 to wlan1
This one had me stumped for a second but then I remembered that a few months back I had tried to get a SpeedTouch 121G Wi-Fi USB stick working which was not a success. And that udev has persistence these days so that might have something to do with choosing wlan1 over wlan0. Next I checked out /etc/udev/rules.d/70-persistent-net.rules and the ndiswrapper entry with name wlan0 for the SpeedTouch 121G was in there. I removed the entry, changed the name of the rt2500pci entry to wlan0, rebooted the box and then the rt2500pci card came up as wlan0.
The only thing left was configuring the card in system-config-network, adding an entry in the DHCP server and allowing the card access to the Wi-Fi router. The result: one working PCI Wi-Fi card in 15 minutes. Now who said that Linux was difficult :)