Monday, November 23, 2009

Fedora 12 and Broadcom wireless works out-of-the-box

Wow, what a past couple of weeks!  First Ubuntu 9.10 comes out, then Mandriva 2010 followed by openSUSE 11.2 and it ends with Fedora 12!

While Karmic is as impressive as any Ubuntu release the one that has really gotten me this time is Fedora 12. Fedora 12  Most specifically, the thing that got me initially "hooked" or interested is that my Broadcom wireless card worked in Fedora 12 out-of-the-box!  No hunting or downloading and cutting the driver! I wasn't even plugged into the network and I was able to connect to the wireless system while running the LiveCD.

I am using a laptop I received, which replaces the one that had and unfortunate accident with a cup of water a while back. Due to issues with the external CD-Rom drive I was not able to even boot up Ubuntu Karmic, or any other Ubuntu when I had a chance to try things out.  I was left with a blinking NUM and CAP LOCK indicators instead.

So I went ahead and installed Fedora 12 on the hard drive and started fooling around with it.  For the most part, it was as expected, with a different list of applications and what-nots, and using PackageKit makes updating and installing an easy prospect though not as easy as Synaptic in Ubuntu.  What did impress me was that not only did Fedora 12 recognize and enable my wireless card out of the box, but it worked better than it did in Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope!  I would have the system on for hours and I never lost a signal.

When I first got the laptop, I was planning on replacing the Broadcom wireless with an Intel one I had in a Thinkpad T40 and hope that they are compatible enough.  After seeing Fedora handle it out of the box I decided it wasn't worth the risk.  Ubuntu and openSUSE did not detect the wireless card, which is expected.

I believe what I get to attribute the wireless card for working is Fedora including the OpenFWWF open sourced drivers.  I hope that development continues and that other distributions start including it so as to help alleviate the wireless hell that so many people go through.