Philips SNU6500 and ndiswrapper setup in MEPIS

08Nov07

Since MEPIS went to version 7 (beta test) it’s now using the Debian stable packages along with some customized packages (the magic of MEPIS!) that are binary-compatible with Etch. I’d previously been put off because of the Ubuntu codebase, not that I’ve got anything against *ubuntu which are all DEB type distributions, but since I’ve got a variety of Debian Etch and testing/unstable boxen I didn’t want to confuse things too much.

Anyway it’s a treat to set up and use. I’ve got a relatively old Athlon-K7 based workstation in my bedroom and I wanted a quick install that included most of the clients I use: ktorrent, skype, akregator, as well as the ndiswrapper drivers for my Philips SNU6500 USB adaptor.

MEPIS ships with a number of ndiswrapper drivers preinstalled, after a short installation you can boot up and run ndiswrapper -l from the shell prompt to see which drivers are installed. I downloaded the Windows XP driver from the Philips site and unzipped that to the /tmp directory. This creates a subdirectory /tmp/SNU6500-v1.0.0.27/Driver/. Change to that directory and run ndiswrapper -i CPWUA6D.INF: this will copy the actual driver for the adaptor to /etc/ndiswrapper.

MEPIS uses network-manager to configure the wireless adaptors. I kept losing the configuration at reboot, so I added my wlan0 config to /etc/network/interfaces. Reading up on the docs it appears that any devices defined with a static address in interfaces will be ignored. I don’t have any other interfaces in the MEPIS machine so I disabled the service with sysv-rc-conf network-manager off.

My /etc/network/interfaces stanza looks like this:

auto wlan0
iface wlan0 inet static
wpa-driver wext
wpa-ssid ***** (my essid)
wpa-psk ***** (my wpa password)
address 192.168.4.72
netmask 255.255.255.0
broadast 192.168.4.255
gateway 192.168.4.128

After a reboot the wlan0 interface came up and the knetworkmanager system tray app showed status connected. This was without doubt the easiest wireless setup I’ve ever done, testament to the intelligent MEPIS defaults.

I found a built in KDE app (mnetwork) which allows for configuring the LAN, either using network-manager or manually. Didn’t expect that (!), but in any case my manual settings didn’t break anything – sometimes so-called wizards can get confused and it’s nice to see this “assistant” is just that.

Long live MEPIS :-).

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