Configuring wireless Ethernet with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5

Even Linux advocates admit that Linux is not as user-friendly as it should be when it comes to mobile networking:

“Networking on Linux right now is painful for the mobile desktop user, especially in comparison to other operating systems. A laptop user should never need to use the command line or configuration files to manage their network; it should ‘Just Work’ as automatically as possible and intrude as little as possible into the user’s workflow.”

GNOME NetworkManager project website

Oh how true!

A couple of nights back, I was staying at a hotel which only offered Wi-Fi connectivity for guest Internet access. That’s all very well if you have Wi-Fi configured on your laptop but, since rebuilding on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5 last week, I haven’t got around to setting up the Intel PRO Wireless 2200BG adapter in my notebook. It turns out that it is pretty straightforward, once you have worked out what to do.

I recently wrote about configuring wireless Ethernet with Fedora Core 5 (using the same computer). After a long-winded effort, installing updated drivers, kernel modules and firmware, I finally got it working but only on one network and not with the NetworkManager applet. Then, I found out that the drivers are included in the kernel by default – all that is required is the correct firmware.

As it happens, the same is true for RHEL (lsmod | grep ipw2200 told me that ipw2200 and ieee80211 were both present in the kernel) and Jeff at suggests (for CentOS, which is basically a rebadged version of RHEL):

“…download the firmware from the Intel Pro/Wireless 2200GB SourceForge project


After downloading the file, type in the following commands as root:

tar -zxf ipw2200-fw-2.0.tgz
mv *.fw /lib/firmware/
rmmod ipw2200

Then, wait a few seconds, and type:

modprobe ipw2200

It’s actually even easier than that – the RHEL supplementary CD includes an RPM for the appropriate firmware (so why it’s not installed by default I don’t know) and, after installing the package and running modprobe ipw2200, eth1 became visible in my computer. Running service NetworkManager start and service NetworkManagerDispatcher start launched the NetworkManager applet too; although to make the change permenant, I used chkconfig NetworkManager on and chkconfig NetworkManagerDispatcher on. I also found that a reboot was required before all the wireless network components got themselves in order.

Following this, it was a case of selecting the appropriate SSID from the NetworkManager icon, and supplying the appropriate security details when prompted.

Network Manager - security

Following that, a connection was established (and NetworkManager even activates/deactivates the wired network connection as appropriate).

Network Manager - connected

It seems that getting wireless in Linux is becoming easier but it’s still not as simple as it should be. NetworkManager helps (a lot) but if the leading Linux distribution had automatically detected my industry-standard hardware (as Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise did… and as Windows did), it would have been a whole lot easier.

5 thoughts on “Configuring wireless Ethernet with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5

  1. Thanks much for this. Helped me with my ipw2200 issue as well. Just a quick yum install ipw2200-firmware, rmmod ipw2200, modprobe ipw2200 and I was off.

  2. Wow. Thanks for posting this information online. Your instructions got my ipw2200 working in just minutes, after I had spent several days stumbling around trying to figure out what was wrong.

  3. Hi ,

    I have installed RHEL 5 on Lenovo-B560 laptop, earlier lan was not working after that i found driver over internet so installed now its working, laptop having wireless switch Broadcom 802.11n (abgn), i think its unable to find the driver for it please help me regarding this.

  4. i have desktop with red hat linux 5 which consists of TPLink wireless network adapter. I want to connect to wireless network. Is there any additional softwares to download and install????
    Or what is the procedure to connect to wireless network with TPLink adapter.

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