Help me find and fix my wifi card problem.
September 28, 2008 1:05 PM   Subscribe

I've replaced my wireless card, but my laptop still intermittently locks up. The problem occurs whether I'm running XP or Ubuntu, and disappears when I disable the wifi in bios.

* I assume the freezes are related to when the card is transmitting.
* Ubuntu will work fine until it connects to an AP. Then it immediately has problems.
* XP has problems on the login screen, but works great (immediately) after disabling the wifi (via the wifi-radio button).
* Both XP and Ubuntu are fully up to date.

* My laptop is an HP Pavilion dv5000 (custom build), with a Broadcom mini-pci a/b/g wlan card.
* I thought the old card was the culprit, so I replaced it with an identical one from HP, but the problem remains.
* Ethernet works fine.

Should I suspect the motherboard? Do people replace the motherboard on laptops? Isn't that expensive? Don't people just replace the laptop instead?

What else could/should I be checking, to narrow down the problem?
posted by philomathoholic to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
It could be your AP. Have you tried connecting to a different one or updating the firmware on your AP?
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:55 PM on September 28, 2008

Have you tried running it with the brick attached? You say it's a custom build, and my first thought was that you're overloading the power supply.
posted by Class Goat at 2:03 PM on September 28, 2008

Response by poster: Well, I didn't think it could be my AP, since I seemed to have the same problem at someone else's house (before replacing the card). But, I've upgraded the AP's firmware, and Ubuntu seems great. I'll test XP and just see how things work after a few hours, though the problem usually appeared quite quickly.

Class Goat: Ah, when I said custom, I meant customized via the HP website, not like hand-picked and assembled. Sorry to mislead you.

Also, I've only ran the new card for about a minute or two before I rebooted and disabled it. Maybe there was some sort of burn-in process needed?
posted by philomathoholic at 2:22 PM on September 28, 2008

Response by poster: OK, so the intermittent-ness seems more intermittent, which makes things almost usable. But, the problem is still present in both XP and Ubuntu.

Thanks for the suggestion damn dirty ape.

Another reason why I don't think the AP is to blame, is that I have a Mac Mini that's been running fine before and after my laptop started exhibiting the problem. Though I realize that different cards might behave differently. Also, I have the transmit power turned way up, further up than the stock firmware allows (I think), so that is probably leading to an early demise of the AP.

I forgot to mention in the post that the laptop itself is 2.5 years old. So, it's not an issue with a new setup, and it's out of warranty.
posted by philomathoholic at 3:10 PM on September 28, 2008

What about disabling it then using a USB wireless thingy (non-broadcom based chip)? It could be the Broadcom chip itself, I know that Broadcom is notorious for being kind of a pain in Ubuntu at the least.
posted by Geppp at 3:12 PM on September 28, 2008

What was the original card that you replaced? Did that also have a Broadcom chipset?
I recently replaced the Broadcom wireless card in my laptop as it was intermittent in Windows and completely useless in Ubuntu. Might be worth trying something different? Intel maybe.
posted by 999 at 4:02 PM on September 28, 2008

Response by poster: I set up my Mini as an AP, and used that and there weren't any problems. Then, to test things, I switched back to the regular AP, and there haven't been any problems since then.

I am honestly shocked that upgrading the AP's firmware, rebooting a few times, and running things a few hours on the new card seems to have fixed it. At least, I hope it's fixed and not just just waiting to strike at an inopportune time.

I don't have a USB wireless dongle, and I don't want to pay for another wireless card (both the old and new are Broadcom). Though those are both good suggestions, thank you.

So, thanks for the suggestions everyone. I don't know if the issue's been fixed, but it certainly seems to have disappeared, which is good enough for now.
posted by philomathoholic at 8:13 PM on September 28, 2008

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