Configuring a Gateway M-6750 for NDIS Wrapper on Ubuntu 12.10

The hard drive my wife’s laptop died recently, so I took that as an opportunity to switch it from Windows Vista to Linux, specifically Ubuntu 12.10.  The only problem I ran into after doing a default install was that the wireless chipset is not supported out of the box. The Ubuntu documentation for setting up wireless with (and without) ndiswrapper is generally pretty good, but I needed a few bits of extra info to make wifi work.

The main problem is that the Gateway M-6750 uses a Marvell 88W8362E wifi b/g/n chipset and comes with Windows Vista installed.  There is no open source driver, so I had to use ndiswrapper.  I went to Gateway’s web site to look for a Windows driver when I got to the step to download the Windows driver (see “Installing Windows driver“). Gateway posts a Windows Vista driver for the wireless chip, but no Windows XP drivers. Unfortunately, ndsiwrapper cannot yet load Vista drivers. It only loads Windows XP drivers.

After a number of web searches, I found a reference suggesting that the Windows XP Gateway M-153 driver uses a similar chipset to the M-67 chipset.  The M-153 driver is the one I eventually got working.

The trick not included in the Ubuntu community install docs is how to get the driver files out of the downloaded zip file. As described in a forum question, I had to do the following:

$ mkdir Marvell   # Make a directory to hold unzipped driver files
$ cd Marvell
$ unzip ../
$ wine Setup.exe

I did this on another Ubuntu machine with wine already installed, but if should work on the M-6750, assuming all the right packages are installed — see the forum thread for details.  Running Setup.exe in wine will pop up an install wizard for the driver.  Go as far as possible through the install process.  It will not succeed, but it will put the files that you need for ndiswrapper in ${HOME}/.wine/drive_c/Program Files/Marvell/TopDog Driver.

The two necessary driver files are NetMW14x.inf and netmw145.sys. Copy those files to the M-6750 (if you are not already working there). From there, I continued with the install Ubuntu community instructions.

When trying to install the driver with modprobe, modprobe returned an error saying that the ndiswrapper module could not be found (even though the ndiswrapper package was installed). An post indicated that the problem was the 1.57 version of ndiswrapper shipped with Ubuntu 12.10. Compiling and installing 1.58rc1 from source fixed the problem.  Hopefully, ndiswrapper 1.58 will be released soon and Unbuntu 12.10 will be updated soon.

With ndiswrapper 1.58rc1, the remaining instructions worked to get the driver installed.  A March 2010 blog post by Joe Wein describes other problems setting up a Gateway M-6750, but I did not experience them, most likely because of updated drivers and a better install process in Ubuntu 12.10.