Wifi Always in hardware Airplane mode - Librem 13 v1

Since months I use a cable connection to my internet router, as one day, my Librem 13 v1 restarted with wifi in airplane mode. The OS says it’s hardware airplane. I tired to toggle the hardware switch buttons under the screen and restart, use a live install OS USB key, check that a cable isn’t disconnected inside the laptop, but no. And I still have no wifi and wish to fix that.

What’s happen there ? Is my wifi card burnt ?

sorry for your hassle.
There are several possible sources. First of all double check that the hardware kill switch is in the enable position. Then boot into PureOS (or your installed OS) and try pressing the radio on/off combo on the keyboard, which on V2 and V3 models is Fn-F3 - I do not have a V1 at hand so can not double check. After pressing Fn-F3 check in your OS on a shell about the rfkill status:
rfkill list
If it still shows hard blocked then it may be that the embedded controller (EC) got confused. Since it is a V1 laptop this still has the AMI BIOS installed, right? Then enter the BIOS and look for an option to reset the BIOS to defaults - sorry, this will kill your settings. But this will invalidate the NVRAM and possible settings in the NVRAM that could cause the EC to assume radio off.
If this also does not help final resort is to open the device bottom cover and disconnect the main battery and the NVRAM backup battery from the main board and let it sit for several hours (e.g. over night). This will eliminate all possible settings in volatile memory.

I sincerely hope that one of the above resolves it!



Thank you for your prompt answer Nicole.

  • Software kill : already done, but no wifi activation.
  • Hardware kill switch: There are not labels on the hardware kill switch (and no user manual…) so I tried both positions earlier.
    Yes, my laptop still have a AMI BIOS.
  • Reset the BIOS to defaults : done, but no wifi activation.
  • Disconnect the main battery and the NVRAM backup battery : main battery disconnected, but there is no hardware spec for Librem 13 v1 in the wiki (!! same for v2…) and no mention of a NVRAM backup battery hardware spec for Librem 13 v3. So please show me what it is, so I can disconnect it.

Thanks for your help,

If you open the bottom cover you can see a round device about 2cm in diameter wrapped in a yellow shrink tube with a cable coming out of the side (two wires, black and red). Follow these to a connector on the board and disconnect it.

Let it set for several hours, it can take a long time for the SRAM to loose its content.

Hope this works!


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I sometimes get a similar problem in my laptop. Usually, when I let the battery to run out of juice. The procedure to recover is to open terminal, switch to root user (sudo su) and then:

  • rfkill list
    If it sais Hard blocked: yes, then press the wireless activation key once.
  • rfkill list again. If it still sais Hard blocked: yes, then rmmod ath5k; modprobe ath5k
  • rfkill list yet again. If it still sais Hard blocked: yes, then repeat: press the wireless key once, rmmod ath5k; modprobe ath5k
  • rfkill listfor the last time. If it still sais Hard blocked: yes, then boomer. But it has never happend in my case.
  • Once I have the Hard blocked: no message, I do rfkill unblock, to also get Soft blocked: no and wireless works again.

On my laptop, the wireless card is driven by ath5k module. Your computer might us another driver. Frankly I don’t know librems all that much :slight_smile:

Hope this helps.

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OOOoooOOOurah ! it works ! (after both battery removal for hours).
Thanks @nicole.faerber :slight_smile:
PS : I do remember now, that the wifi stoped working after a kernel update.

@Dwaff : I didn’t had to try your procedure, but first thanks. And who knows, next time…

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BTW, just for you to know, when I first restarted, the BIOS showed me a red warning message “The signature is wrong” and self-restarted twice before it loaded the grub.

The Heads red warning will always appear after a kernel update, because updating the kernel changes the files and thus affects the signature. You mentioned you updated your kernel - hence, the red warnings