Terrible WiFi performance with Librem13, Librem15

I don’t own a Librem 13/15 to test this, but these instructions should work:

  1. Install your new Intel Wi-Fi card and then connect your laptop to your router via an Ethernet cable so you still have an internet connection.

  2. Edit your list of repos from the command line:
    sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list

Add the following line:
deb http://mirrors.linux.iu.edu/linux/debian/ testing non-free contrib

Press CTL + X to exit and press Y to save.

  1. Then refresh the list of available packages:
    sudo apt update

  2. Then, install the Intel Wi-Fi firmware:
    sudo apt install firmware-iwlwifi

  3. Then, remove the Debian repos:
    sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list

Delete the line:
deb http://mirrors.linux.iu.edu/linux/debian/ testing non-free contrib

  1. Then, refresh the list of packages:
    sudo apt update

That can be a problem on laptops that don’t have an ethernet port. (May have to try a USB dongle that gives you an ethernet port but that could be a can of worms of its own.)

Oh, I see that Purism removed the Ethernet port in recent models. OK, then do the above instructions with the Atheros Wi-Fi card installed. Then, install the Intel Wi-Fi card and enter this command:
sudo dpk-reconfigure firmware-iwlwifi

(I’m not sure if the package needs any reconfiguring with the Wi-Fi card installed, but some packages need to detect the hardware to configure correctly, so do it just in case.)


Thank you amosbattos.

I bought an Intel card and used your procedure (slightly modified). I don’t have USB-C to Ethernet adapter, plus running Cat-5 to the router is not practical. So I tethered my cell phone. I now have good solid WiFi and Bluetooth works. I understand that this is not a desirable solution for everyone. But it’s an acceptable risk for my situation.

1 Like

Yes. that is how i understand the thinkpenguin. There are two things to wofi cards as far as i know. Driver and a frimeware. The first is open source for more, also the intel i think, but many need closed source firmeware which also often need to be loaded at run time. So it needs to be part of you linux. That is what is in un free for intel i think.
Than there are cards wich have closed firmware which is embeded in the hardware and not upgradeable from the system and therefor considered equal to a hardware implementation. I think the thinkpenguin people get permission to ship the cards withe as free firmware and that is why it can be used without the non-free repo.
Disclaimer: i don’t own any of the hardware and so haven’t tested any of this. So i could be worng

this is what i did, it was less of a can of worms than i expected ! the adapter that i got (“Starlink USB31000S USB3-to-gigabit ethernet adapter”) almost maxes out 1Gbit/s, has upstream drivers in the Linux kernel (AX88179) and no firmware blobs
would have preferred a built-in ethernet port, mostly not to have an adapter bungling out, but this is very okay


If you haven’t already found it, the firmware blob is the link in my earlier post that the forum misinterpreted as an ad for intel, https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/support/articles/000005511/network-and-i-o/wireless-networking.html

Hundreds of posts and years later the issue persist, and these people think they can engineer a phone? No wonder it can’t make calls.

Would be great to have an update on this. A $1500 laptop should be able to at least get wifi if more than 6 meters away from the router.

1 Like

Purism solved the problem on the phone by working with Redpine Signals so the RS9116 can function over SDIO 2.0 without binary blobs in Linux. I expect that Purism will also use the RS9116 in future Librem laptops as well, since there appears to be no way to make the Atheros 802.11n chip work well.

Instead of criticizing Purism, you should be thanking the company for its work to give us a free/open alternative to the crappy Atheros 802.11n chip.


Any chance this module / implementation could be bought as an upgrade kit at some point? I’d love to put a better wifi module into my Librem 13v4. I would definitely buy such an upgrade module from purism.


There’s always a chance. Why not ask Purism directly?

I couldn’t tell whether this is drop-in replacement compatible though i.e. at the hardware level. I expect the software change can be managed.

I am also experiencing multiple WiFi issues with Librem 15v4. I would like to add that this is a brand new device. I’m dual booting PureOS and Ubuntu 18.04. The WiFi issues really only started when I started using Ubuntu. I would attempt to connect to my home WiFi, and it would state “Connecting” for about a minute, then state that the connection failed. No amount of turning WiFi off/on or killswitch off/on would work. Eventually I tried turning hwcrypt off and disabling IPv6, which seemed to do the trick for about 3 hours or so. But then speeds got really slow, pinging to google.com gave 55% packet loss. Then it stopped working completely, back to “Connecting” and failing again. I then tried restarting the NetworkManager service by doing sudo service network-manager restart then followed up with sudo ifdown wlp1s0; sudo ifup wlp1s0 just to be sure. This, surprisingly, worked… For a day. I then switched to PureOS to check some things out, noticed I was having wifi issues there now. Switched back to Ubuntu, back to square friggin’ one. Unable to connect again. I’m typically able to connect to my phone’s wifi hotspot however. But this time I wasn’t. I restarted multiple times. After the 4th or 5th restart, it started working again (?).

But even though it’s connecting now, the connection is really spotty. Attempting to play League of Legends is impossible as the network connection will drop out of nowhere for 3-5 minutes, or I’ll experience severe packet loss.

It seemingly has a mind of its own.

A little update, I wiped the internal SSD completely and started with a fresh Ubuntu 19.10 installation. Things seem to be going a lot better now. Previously in addition to the WiFi issues, I was having graphics issues as well (20 fps in League of Legends, 10 fps in Overwatch, 10 fps while playing RLCraft Minecraft mod w/ lowest Shader settings). This was on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. But I’m guessing there was some configuration issues, because Ubuntu 19.10 works like a charm and I have yet to experience any significant WiFi or graphics issues like before on PureOS and Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.


Okay, I’ll be honest. I’ve been using the Librem 15v4 for awhile about 3 months now and this is just terrible. WiFi is god awful. I can’t get steady ping on any game and the WiFi will literally stop working occasionally. I have to jiggle the screen back and forth for it to get speeds that I should be expecting, but as soon as I stop moving the screen or the laptop about it goes back to, what I can only describe as negative bandwidth. It’s literally that bad. If you see this forum post and are considering buying a Librem laptop, I STRONGLY ADVISE YOU TO LOOK THE OTHER WAY AND DO NOT – I REPEAT, DO NOT – BUY A LIBREM LAPTOP. I feel almost scammed out of my money at this point with how barely functional this stupid laptop is.

1 Like

I’m sorry you’ve reached this conclusion. I’ve had a 13v2 for almost a year and a half now, and while I’ve noticed that wifi performance is worse with it that my other laptops, I have not ever considered this a reason to not buy it. Your AP source could be moved, you could change where you are using your laptop.

If wifi performance is so critical to you that you totally disregard every other important reason to buy a Purism product, perhaps you made a bad choice to begin with. I mean I get your frustration, but just blaming the laptop for all of your problems seem like an easy scape goat, and your recommendation rather foolish.

When paying $1800 for a laptop, yes, poor wifi performance (with no built-in Ethernet port) as well as random crashes/freezes on multiple different distros, half a decade old CPU, and keys that start squeaking after only 3 months of use is definitely a deal-breaker. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Free and Open aspect of Librem, but it seems the only thing that the majority of my money went toward was for Purism to neuter the Intel ME. Every other aspect is simply way too overpriced.

Not to mention having to wait 2 whole months for the device to be shipped, only to find out they shipped me the wrong laptop (a Librem 13).

1 Like

@Septem151 saying that you have to jiggle the screen to get a stable connection might point at something being wrong with the placement of the antennas within the screen or with the cable running from the wlan card to the antenna.
If that’s not the case and the wlan connection is a know weak point the solutions to it are already with in this thread Terrible WiFi performance with Librem13, Librem15.
I’ve done that on a librem 13v4 without a problem.
But from your posts it seems like your mayor use case seems to be gaming an that’s probably the one thing the Librem Laptops aren’t really suited for, in my opinion it’s more of a business Notebook.

How do you spend $1800 on a laptop with all the deficiencies you just pointed out, and then complain that you spent that much money on it? I mean you knew all of that BEFORE you spent the money on it.

It’s not that perfect wifi is priority number one. It’s that working wifi is kinda part of a laptop. So it’s borderline not a working laptop by just baseline properties.

Maybe jiggling the screen, actually what you’re doing is having your body being an extension of the antenna.

To say the problem is “solved” in the thread you point to is absolutely false. I’ve tried everything and the wifi is still barely functional.

I’m not saying this is the case for you or Septem. I’m just saying that in my own Librem wifi performance while not as good as other laptops is still very functional.

Have you contacted support and worked to get it resolved through official channels?