Wifi Troubleshooting

Purism Team,

I received my Librem 15 Rev2 but have been unable to use Wifi.

I am able to connect to the wireless network but I am unable to browse the Web. I have verified that the wireless network is functional because other systems are able to connect.

When I try to download a Web page with the browser or with wget the connection simply hangs. I am able to use traceroute to connect, for example, to en.wikipedia.org. However, when I attempt to use telnet en.wikipedia.org 80 no data is returned and I get the message Connection closed by foreign host. When I attempt to access a server with ssh the connection also times out. I have tried setting different nameservers in /etc/resolv.conf to no effect.

The output of iwconfig and ifconfig confirm that the wireless interface is operational and that a dynamic IP address is assigned properly. NetworkManager shows that the signal strength is high.

The identical problem exists both in PureOS running kernels 4.2.0-1-amd64 and 4.2.3purism-rc2 and with a Debian 8.3.0 Gnome Desktop live CD running kernel 3.16.0-4-amd64.

In order to confirm that the wireless card was installed properly I unscrewed the case, disconnected the wireless card from the bus, and reconnected it to no effect.

All of this indicates that there is some kind of hardware problem with the wireless card or its interface with the board. I suspect the laptop was not tested before it was shipped.

I would appreciate any suggestions because I do not know how to troubleshoot this issue further. I can provide the output of commands if it would be helpful, but since the laptop does not have an Ethernet port and I don’t yet have a USB adapter, it will be cumbersome to upload.



Update: It seems it is not a hardware problem after all.

I was not able to connect as a normal user. However, I was able to connect as root. After logging off as root I was able to connect as a normal user. I’ll have to figure out why this is happening.

Thanks for reading this thread. Assistance is no longer required.

I have determined that the issue was caused by poor wireless reception. The Librem seems to have a shorter range than the other laptops I was testing.

I am looking for ways to improve the wireless reception such as upgrading the internal antenna or wireless card or installing an external one.

I believe I have solved the problem by decreasing the maximum transmission unit of the wireless interface from 1500 to 1450:
# ifconfig wlan0 mtu 1450

Unfortunately that did not solve the connectivity problems. Still having trouble receiving wireless where other laptops work fine.

As an experiment I ran the system with the bottom case removed. Connectivity was patchy but it seemed better than when the case was attached. This suggests that the metal case is interfering with reception.

The wireless antenna appears to be routed behind the screen. The top panel is almost completely closed which could explain the interference.

Would rerouting the wireless antenna improve reception? This Stack Exchange thread suggests that Macbook antenna is mounted near the optical drive opening.

I used Debian stretch on my newly arrived librem-13.

I got a lot of wifi trouble with reception rendering the laptop completely unusable without wired connection: bad reception, flacky connection, weird disconnections.

Any idea where to start?

Is the free driver that bad?

I’m not sure if the fiddling with the switches or the ‘modprobe uvcvideo’ (and multiple reboots) is what did it, but the webcam works now! So far, so good…

I have not had any issues with the free driver. I don’t have any non-free repos enabled.
I’m running a 4.3 kernel, but I’ve also used the 4.4 kernel from Sid without any issue in wireless.

I had some problems with connman in Stretch and had to switch to NetworkManager. Connman and iptables broke my internet connection and I rolled back to a previous connman, but I noticed that connman was not n working with an AP that NetworkManager handled without issue.

Do you have some bootable live linux distro you could try and compare the results? Perhaps there’s a hardware issue or loose connection.

I tried with 3 differents distros (PureOS, Debian stretch, Ubuntu 15.10) and get same results.

Reception seems very flaky and low compared to other computers (I tried with my MacbookPro running Ubuntu, my phone running Android and an old EeePC running Debian jessie).

When I am right next to the WiFi AP everything is right, as soon as go further (6/7 meters) things go bad very quickly with the Librem-13 but not with the others tested computers.

The Librem-13 WiFi connection is so bad in my office, that right now in order to use the Librem-13, I am forced to share my phone WiFi through USB with my Librem-13 in order to get usable network connection :frowning:

Bruni - I would suggest you check in with support@puri.sm if you haven’t already. Maybe an antenna connection is loose / bad?

I have just sent them the message. Will send any advances here if I get some.

Illustrations of the poor quality of the wireless card:

Tests done from the same location in the house, using the same wifi network.

It’s Debian 8 with KDE,

Try Debian 9 codename: stretch)

I’m currently using it, and even in a low-signal area, wifi still works fabulously good.

cheers, HS

Is there any update on this issue? I’m experiencing exactly the same bad connection. If I knew what to watch out for wrt. for the drivers I would.

Hi all, I split the wifi discussion from the topic titled “Debian” and merged it into this topic here.

So, there are a couple of ways wifi can be problematic for the quality of signal reception:

  • As pointed out by Zlatan over there, there are limitations with the current fully freed driver that was chosen. In summary: 802.11n is not as good as 802.11ac in terms of distance, but there is no free software for 802.11ac yet, I am told.
  • Nonetheless, 6-7 meters is really short, you should not (in theory) have trouble at such a distance. The antennas are located in the screen's hinge cover, which is plastic instead of aluminium (to avoid interference). Could anyone experiencing this double-check that the antennas are correctly connected to their wifi card, and that the antenna cables are not damaged? If you have such a weak reception, it might be due to the antennas not doing their job.
  • At least one person (Taylor, above in this thread) has reported slightly better signal with the bottom of the computer case open. I'm not saying you should do the same, but it would be interesting to know if that observation is generalized (while measured objectively).

Hope this helps.

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Is this a common problem on the latest revision of the librem 13 or 15? Is anyone else facing the same issue?

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Ghbli, to my knowledge, we had around 4 or 5 complaints so far, most of them resolved, so I wouldn’t take it as a common problem. If you have issues, you can mail us at support at puri.sm, we’ll try to find out what is going on.

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I’ve contacted the support, but they didnt responded.