Terrible WiFi performance with Librem13, Librem15


That’s the sucky bit. Fast compromised communication or slow private communication. We shouldn’t have to make that choice.


So it seems like the fix to this moderately/majorly annoying issue is to replace the wifi chip?

Will someone at Purism please suggest a list of possible replacement chips they recommend (Librem 13 and 15) that do not compromise their free/open mission? I imagine there will have been some sort of short list when initially selecting the hardware.

In general, when replacing/upgrading hardware, I’m sure the community would appreciate if Purism were to host or curate such lists.


If there were alternative modules with better performance and free drivers, they would use them.

The problem is not the module, it’s the free driver needing optimization. You can also use the proprietary driver, but Purism can’t (and doesn’t want to) ship it.


Not for me, and I think for at least some others. I’m using the non-free driver and reception is still terrible.


reception has to do with the power of the signal and how it get’s transmitted/received so it’s more a proximity/hardware engineering problem than a linux-kernel-driver-module problem.
SOME aspects are indeed fixed and present in proprietary firmware but they could be present in the free-software ones if the manufacturers would AT-LEAST hand over proper documentation of the hardware.


So I replaced my Intel 8260 with an Intel 9260 in my Librem 15v3 and the difference was astounding.

  1. Wireless KIllswitch works again.
  2. Laptop appears to correctly enable the 9260 even during a cold boot (8260 required a warm reboot cycle to work)
  3. 8260 was having problems for me in kernel 5.1 that required me to turn wifi off and back on again to bring it back online occasionally. 9260 thus far does not appear to have this issue.

All in all, I’d say if you are looking for a better wireless module for your Librem 13 or 15 and you don’t mind a firmware blob, the Intel 9260 makes for an excellent choice. Thanks for sharing this info with me!

Librem 5 Shipping Batches

Steven, if you don’t see the file, then create it:
sudo echo "wifi.powersave = 2" > /etc/NetworkManager/conf.d/default-wifi-powersave-on.conf

Then, reboot. Does that change anything?


I sent my device in a few weeks ago and with the team’s help they found out I had a faulty wifi card. They will be sending it back to me very soon. When I get it back, hopefully all will be right with the world.


Has there been any word whether Redpine Signal’s Wi-Fi/Bluetooth with free Linux drivers will be ready for the Librem 5? I assume that Purism decided to use SDIO to communicate with the Wi-Fi, so that it doesn’t have to use the crappy Atheros Wi-Fi chip.


let’s hope so :crossed_fingers:


If there were alternative modules with better performance and free drivers, they would use them.

That is a little strange however. I think that for the ath9k series, the ath9k was the only driver available and the proprietary driver long abandoned.

I say this, because there are ath9k based chips, where the oss kernel driver is the only option, and even goes in combination with the open firmware from qualcom themselves: https://github.com/qca/open-ath9k-htc-firmware

Granted, no driver is perfect, and some extra work simply may be needed or omitted here. But I don’t think the chips are that horrible by themselves. Buggy firmware is usually the cause (but again, I’m only familiar with devices using the open sourced firmware).


Actually there are alternatives using fully free firmware. ThinkPenguin has put in a lot of work negotiating with Atheros to be able to sell wireless devices with fully free firmware, and they’ve been selling them for several years. Their hardware is certified by the FSF: https://ryf.fsf.org

I’ve replaced the Librem 13 laptop Atheros WiFi card with ThinkPenguin’s Wireless N M.2 NGFF Card v2 (TPE-M2NCRD2) which is a newer Atheros model. It looks like this card hasn’t been stamped as RYF from the FSF yet, but they mention like their other cards that it doesn’t use proprietary firmware or need proprietary drivers. From looking at NetworkManager’s Connection Information I see that the burst speed now frequently hits at least 72 Mb/s at times whereas the original card wouldn’t cross 6 Mb/s. I still need to test that this card maintains a decent connection when video conferencing; so far it looks promising.


This is unacceptable for me, I don’t want to buy a new laptop and have to worry about replacing parts for basic functionality. If Purism is going to insist on just using freeware than as a company its incumbent upon you to come up with an in house solution built into the Pure OS, which means hire some more in house talent on the software front. But having your product ship to customers with hardware that is not completely functional should never be an option. I love Purism librem hardware design but they seem like they still need to do a lot of work on the software front.


New Librem15, terrible WiFi here, too. I looked at the ThinkPenguin card ~$60. Intel9260 ~$15 free deiivery tomorrow. I am good with swapping hardware. Not sure how to get/install the firmware blob; clearly I’ll have to snag it before I pull the old WiFi card. Did you ever write that tutorial or would you like some help doing that?


For me the ThinkPenguin card just worked on my Librem 13; I didn’t have to do anything because it was also Atheros.


Interesting. Does that mean you achieved good WiFi performance by swapping in the ThinkPenguin card using the original open-source driver? Or did you install the non-free Atheros driver? Do you have performance metrics?


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.

Librem15 with no RAM/HDD option? A few other questions