I purchased two Edimax Ralink RT2561/RT61 802.11g PCI cards a year or so ago to get our older PC desktops onto our wireless network with both Windows and Linux. I’ve since become almost completely disgusted with Windows (thanks to Vista) and am replacing Windows with Ubuntu or Red Hat Linux on our remaining PCs.
Device driver support has traditionally been a weakness for Linux because many hardware manufacturers didn’t bother to support non-Windows operating systems and didn’t want to help open source projects create drivers to support their products. Thankfully that is changing and most manufacturers are beginning to offer Linux drivers for their devices. For the last five or ten years, there have been a number of public efforts to build robust wireless support into Linux and these have improved the wireless driver situation, but wireless networking chipsets can be pretty challenging to get working through reverse engineering and many would-be Linux wireless users have still been left out in the cold. This deficiency is one of only a few big remaining obstacles to a Linux distribution that installs and works out of the box as well as (or better than) Windows.
Anyway, true to form, I installed Ubuntu 9.04 on an HP desktop today and all went very well except that the wireless card didn’t work out of the box. Running lspci reported that i have a Ralink RT2561/RT61 802.11g PCI wireless chipset in that machine. I looked on the Ubuntu forums (a great resource for help of all sorts by the way) and found a lot of people with the same issue but no definitive solutions for Ubuntu 9.04. Poking around on the forums and on the wider net, I put together a solution that worked for me. I’ve laid out the steps to my solution below.
2. Copy the drivers to your Ubuntu 9.04 machine.
3. Extract the drivers using Ubuntu’s built in compression manager. The resulting folder will be named something like “2009_0123_RT61_Linux_STA_v126.96.36.199”.
4. Open a terminal and navigate to the Module directory under the 2009_0123_RT61_Linux_STA_v188.8.131.52 directory.
5. Type “make” to build the driver module. You should see a lot of warnings but no errors flash by on the screen. This is normal.
6. Type “sudo make install” to install the module you just built. Type in your superuser password when you are prompted. You will see a bunch of stuff flash by on the screen, including some warnings but hopefully no errors. Your new drivers should now be installed.
7. Reboot your Ubuntu machine. When it finishes restarting, you should see a wireless networking icon on the status bar at the top of the screen. Click on this, pick the network to join, and type in your security key (if one is required). After a few moments, you should be connected to your wireless network.
The above steps worked for me and I’m connected to a WPA/PSK encrypted wireless network. I hope these steps work for you but if you still have problems after following them, leave me a comment and I’ll try to help you. Wireless support is much improved in Linux and connecting to a wireless network will soon be as easy (or easier) as it is in Windows.