Wifi + Bluetooth Combo Card


#1

Yesterday I found this Wireless N Dual Band + Bluetooth 4.0 M.2 NGFF Combo Card in the thinkpenguin.com online shop. As I understand it it supports bluetooth without the need for proprietary firmware.

@mladen Why do you use another combo card which requires non-free firmware for bluetooth in your notebooks? I’m sure there’s a good reason, I’m just curious.


#2

This is a great question. Purism: Any plans to incorporate in future versions?


#3

This is exactly the card of a Librem13 v3.

01:00.0 Network controller: Qualcomm Atheros AR9462 Wireless Network Adapter (rev 01)

#4

As I understand it AR9462 is the Wifi chip, so only a part of the Wifi + BT Combo Card. Install the non-free firmware and check lsusb. At least on a Librem 13 v3 you’ll get something like this:

Bus 001 Device 002: ID 04ca:300d Lite-On Technology Corp. Atheros AR3012 Bluetooth

The Atheros AR3012 Bluetooth and the AR9462 Wireless Network Adapter are both part of the Combo Card. I’m just guessing but I think that the device sold at thinkpenguin uses the same wifi chip but another bluetooth adapter.


#5

I see, in general they are using the same reference design for that card. But I’m not sure. So the best thing would be to ask thinkpenguin.


#6

I don’t care so much which bluetooth adapter they are using. I was asking myself: If there’s really a Wifi + Bluetooth Combo Card for an E keyed M.2 slot out there which doesn’t require any non-free firmware for bluetooth support – why would Purism use another one in the Librems?

I think the best thing would be to ask Purism :wink:


#7

Neither do I.

Here is the answer

Sadly, there is none, yet. As soon as someone creates a free driver for Atheros AC wireless card, we will switch to it.


#8

I just contacted ThinkPenguin. Will post more info if they get back to me.


#9

As far as I know this quote is about a free driver for IEEE 802.11ac devices (for now there’s only the non-free ath10k driver). But I’m happy with 802.11n (and thus ath9k) – so that’s an answer to a different question.


#10

I asked ThinkPenguin!!
They replied and said:

The bluetooth and wifi both will work in Trisquel 7. While the wifi will work in Parabola GNU/Linux-libre the bluetooth may not work. At least with some versions of Parabola GNU/Linux-Libre that have included a kernel that blacklists the bluetooth driver rather than the firmware loading mechanism in the bluetooth driver. This bug was introduced with some kernel(s) that effectively disabled the driver rather than just the loading of non-free firmware. The firmware is not needed for this particular card.

Everything in our catalog should work with Parabola GNU/Linux-libre and Trisquel (provided there is a recent enough release to support said hardware), keyword being should, but reality is sometimes different (not usually but sometimes) due to bugs or other issues that crop up. Parabola GNU/Linux-libre has support for everything in our catalog right now I believe except the bluetooth portion of this card (unless the bug has been fixed, which I couldn’t tell you if it has or hasn’t been as I’ve not tested it recently).
In either case we do have a USB bluetooth adapter that will definitely work with Parabola GNU/Linux-libre and either way this is the M.2 wifi card you want if you have a system with a card slot that accepts it (ie there are no other freer options on the market):
https://www.thinkpenguin.com/gnu-linux/penguin-usb-bluetooth-40-micro-adapter

TL;DR: Yes, it will work with a Linux-Libre kernel and bluetooth will work.


#11

@blendergeek: Thanks for reply. Yes, it looks like basic bluetooth function will work. Do you know, if they have fixed the “bug”? There are only a few cards on the market with free drivers.

@stefann: You are right, that was a different question, but maybe the same answer. Basic bluetooth function should also work in PureOS with this card. In case of the ath9k driver: If you are are happy with an average throughput of 54 Mbit/s, that’s ok. If you prefer gigabit-like experience over WiFi, than actually you better switch to the non-free driver.


#12

The thing is: if Purism could use the combo card offered by thinkpenguin in their Librems they wouldn’t have to find a reverse engineer who liberates the driver for Atheros AR3012 Bluetooth.

So maybe they didn’t know that this combo card exists or they tested the card and had good reasons to use another one. I started this topic because I’d like to know if there are any good reasons not to use this combo card. If not I’m thinking about buying one.

I “need” bluetooth support and decided against the Technoethical Nano Bluetooth 4.0 USB Adapter because we have only two (type A) USB ports on the Librem 13 and I already need one for a Logitech Unifying Receiver… So I still use the non-free firmware – but that’s not really acceptable to me.

@mladen: Do you have any information about this?


#13

I just asked on the Parabola mailing list.


#14

Hi guys. An interesting topic, indeed. Friendly ping to @JamesRufer and @zlatan-todoric to have a look at this. :slight_smile:


#15

For everyone interested I just wanted to post a link to the relevant issue in Purism’s bug tracker: PureOS 3 + Librem13 = NO BlueTooth.