Terrible WiFi performance with Librem13, Librem15

To get the scale of the wifi problems: Yes, I mean being literally five steps away from an AP. Line of sight. No furniture or walls in the way. Under such absolutely ideal conditions the librem struggles to connect.

Multiple APs and multiple brands of APs.

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I can’t explain why that is your experience but it is quite different from other users.

LOL. I have a number of older (but not that old!) Raspberry Pi computers that have no built-in WiFi at all. So I have a bunch of USB WiFi dongles anyway. At least some of them have an SMA connector for an external antenna that might end up being a better antenna!

This is my point as well. This is not normal and not what other customers are experiencing. You need to get with support.

Might be that there’s a variance in how well different devices connected via wifi. For my Librem 13v3 it used to be as follows:

  • 4m away from router (line of sight): good connection, but only 1/2 to 3/4 of possible connection-quality
  • neighbour-room (1 wall): bad to no connection, retries

At the same time several smartphones + an old Dell Vostro 1500 had superb connection (maxxed out) to pretty decent connection in neighbour-room.

So the Librem’s connection quality was usable, but far from best possible.

I think what this reflects is the feature parity between the proprietary drivers, and the reversed engineered open source drivers. Device drivers are hard work, especially when trying to make them in the blind.

Don’t believe me? Install Ubuntu on your Librem and watch your wireless performance instantly improve.

@ajlok that sounds like something similar to what i’ve discovered while playing with the Librem13v4 just not that extreme.
From what i’ve figured out it always seems to try to use the 5GHz Wifi network that is degrading rather fast.
By connecting it only to the 2.5GHz Wifi network the range is better.
In most Wifi APs you can give the 2.5GHz and 5GHz networks different SSIDs that way you can decide which network to connect to.
And yes I know that the bandwidth on the 2.5GHz network is way lower than the newer band aggregation technologies used in the 5GHz range. Although the 2.5GHz band is quite crowded which causes even more trouble for the driver and hardware.

Probably you’re right about that part. Additionally i’m not sure, if the placement of the two antennas or the antennas themselves might be kind of improvable. But nevertheless - as already mentioned: The original Librem-Wifi works and that’s what’s necessary.

Also lower frequency should be more problem-tolerant regarding reception while providing less speed. The higher one theoretically being the opposite. But don’t count on my words me being no pro in that regards.

(In Germany a lot of people are unhappy because of often bad mobile reception - LTE. Compared to that travelling through scandinavien forests - with lots of kilometers no person nearby - almost everywhere you get 4g or at least 3g. The reason for that being a much lower frequency used which carries further while providing less overall speed/bandwidth - enough for the amount of people living close by. On the opposite in Germany there are 80.000.000 citizens - mostly quite crowded. Which demands much more bandwidth - only reachable with higher frequencies which provide more bandwidth while at the same time carrying less stable into topological problem-areas mobile-reception-wise like valleys and over mountains. That just as a pretty uninformed, non-professional thought regarding 2.5GHz vs. 5GHz - perhaps wrong … or right)

Just to have it mentioned: Fixed my 2nd antenna-cable yesterday. Bought a bag of 2 cheap antenna-cables SMA-to-IPEX for NGFF M.2 Wifi-cards. The IPEX plug is a MHF4.

It’s really tiny. So tiny that one almost cannot identify visually it’s little features and structure. Nevertheless i managed to open up the crimping, take out the micro-coax-cable; instead insert my Librem’s black micro-coax-cable and “crimp” it again. For opening i used the knife of a leatherman, bright sunlight and the pliers of the multitool. And … it works again. Black antenna-wire repaired.

A good idea how the MHF-plugs are build and how to re-open, close them again one can get by looking at the MHF4’s sibling MHF1 to get a rough idea (scroll down to “Solderless micro-coaxial termination” to see a 3d-drawing of the plug).

A hint: If you detach the plug from a wifi-card, drag it exactly straight up as by the specs it can’t bear more than 3° of angle when detaching. Same for attaching. Exactly straight down - not more than 5° angle as by the specs.

Btw: Since having set up the Intel 9260 with closed firmware blob, i can confirm that the bluetooth is also working properly (send pics betwween Librem and Android-phone, kill-switch works properly).


Re: Redpine chip/module - For 100 mbps? Why bother?

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How about considering to get data rates up to 866.7Mbps from muRata? Is it smartphone adequate (like power consumption, etc.) solution?

In case you forget, the gray wire goes closer to the hinge.

for me it was the other way around: The gray wire was connected to aux and the black wire to main. Can anybody confirm this with a Librem 15v3?

I can confirm this on my Librem 15v3. Black to main, gray to aux.

My Wi-Fi performance is also terrible, whether I’m using the free software or proprietary driver, or Ubuntu 20.04, PureOS 9 or 10, Debian 10 or 11, or Qubes, the performance is consistently bad. This happens when I’m 2m away from my AP with line-of-sight and a nearly perfect signal quality. Large count of “invalid misc” when streaming anything.

As an example, my System76 in another room with a link quality of 60/70 and an -50 dBm signal, using its internal Wi-Fi, I will maybe have 2000 invalid misc after several hours of heavy use. On the Librem 15v3 with its internal Wi-Fi, line-of-sight, within 1 meter of the AP I will see tens of thousands of invalid misc packets in a matter of minutes and not be able to hold a bitrate over ~50 Mbps (I have a 200 Mbps fiber connection to the internet).

Meanwhile the System76 in the other room, through plaster walls, using its internal Wi-Fi adapter is holding a 300-400 Mbps bitrate with a -50 dBm signal and has a rock solid connection.

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Presumably that’s using a vanilla Intel WiFi card, which you are free to purchase and install in a Librem laptop and compromise your standards - if you judge that the benefits outweigh the risks in your personal circumstances.

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I just went over the whole thread again which delivers a lot of interesting information (spread out over the whole thread).

Short overview:

Purism’s main goal is to deliver free hard- & software. So the choice in wifi-chips and free drivers for Librem 13 and 15 were limited. For some users this combination seemed/s to deliver poor wifi results.

Possible solutions:

  • change free to proprietary driver (little better wifi)
  • change to an Intel 9260 card + driver (much better wifi + additonally working Bluetooth, but closed software blob -> starting roughly from post 77)

My Librem 13v3 is (manually) customized with 32GB Samsung RAM, Samsung Pro NVMe SSD and Intel 9260 Wifi/Bluetooth and even years after delivery (except a broken hinge which was solved by Purism marvelously) it is running like a charme and a (fast) joy to work with.


I don’t think that’s an accurate summary.

The “much better wifi” after switching to another card is still absolutely awful wifi. It merely went from “can not connect to wifi 3 meters away with no walls”, to “unlike every other device I can’t use this in much of my house”.

I suspect the metal body of the laptop.

Because come on, no wifi card, free driver or not, could possibly be the cause of that bad an experience.

I had to plug in a shitty USB wifi stick to make it useful.

It is accurate - at least for my experience and my device. My connection is definitely “much better” as i mentioned (i get reception from other rooms) - absolutely usable.

As you mention, there are other devices that have better reception which might be due to the metal housing. But at least with my L13 that definitely doesn’t matter because the differences are not big (anymore - like they used to be with the original wifi-card - which for me used to be stressing).

My wifi is also much better. Still unacceptable (getting reception in other rooms is a really low bar).

Yes, depending on the use case an wifi card change can make it acceptable, but I don’t want this thread to end on a note implying this is simply a fix (albeit one that sacrifices openness).

I’m happy to hear it’s now good enough for you. For me it was still the case that for large transfers, or latency-sensitive stuff (including SSH without glitchy latency on interactivity), I had to walk to the room with the AP. This is not the case with the Lenovo X1 Carbon I’ve since switched to.

I wonder if your internal antenna wires are improperly positioned. Have you checked?

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