Terrible WiFi performance with Librem13, Librem15

I am glad that this thread reappeared. I didn’t know it existed. I am in the market for a laptop for my wife and was going to pull the trigger on one of the refurbished items but seeing as though she uses wifi exclusively I’m glad I didn’t.

Regardless of what people may say in support, for the price of these laptops, irrespective of the noble philosophical underpinnings, the wifi performance sounds like a total worry. And have I also got it right that doesn’t appear to be a fix?


The common fix is to replace the wifi module

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Using my Librem 13 longer than a year. Using the original wifi-module always did the job. Nothing to worry about. The reception wasn’t top notch, but always enough.

Having switched to another module wasn’t necessary. Just a bit more towards perfect. As to why Purism choose the original module: If i remember right, it was one of the few available without closed-source firmware - which Purism tries to avoid as much as possible.


This has been my experience as well.

I think the problem here is exaggerated or is worse depending on how the APs and wireless coverage are in the places they were using their Librem.

I have only the stock card, and reception has been enough. I’ve never considered getting a different wifi card.

Good that you’re happy. Mine wouldn’t connect to an AP 5 meters away on 5GHz, and almost as bad on 2.4GHz, even after being sent back for repair by librem.

And the “fix” of changing the wifi card is not a fix. The connectors on a wifi card are not designed to be reattachable, and indeed often break no matter how carefully they are handled. (and often break on the cable side, which can’t simply be replaced)

After I changed the card it got to be barely acceptable. But at least I dare bring it to hotels now as with the shipped wifi card (even after repair, where it did get better) it would not connect to most wifi because of this issue.

I have a USB wifi card just in case. But honestly, an external wifi nic is so 1990’s.



It is a security v. performance tradeoff.

You can take the standard Atheros(?) WiFi and get the security that you get from not having a blob but not get as good performance.


You can buy (separately) an Intel WiFi card (well Intel seems to be what most people do) and get the insecurity that you get from having a blob but get better performance.

For some people (use at home), it may be the positioning of the WAP relative to the positioning of the laptop makes the signal strength marginal and the difference between the two WiFi cards is the difference between usable/stable and unusable/unstable. For other people it may be usable either way and the difference is between OK and better.

The different experiences that people have may reflect house size, house construction material, house layout, quality of WAP.

So some people, if unwilling to sacrifice some security, might need to get a WiFi extender in some form or other.

Here’s the thing though. No realistic amount of money is going to solve the fact that some manufacturers lock their functionality behind secret blobs. This is not ideal but we don’t live in an ideal world.

If you are prepared to sacrifice yourself to some blobbiness then, yes, there is a fix - buy an Intel WiFi module separately and go down that route - as quite a few Librem laptop customers have done.

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?