USB wireless adaptor

January 25, 2008

Update: debian contrib does provide the kernel module named rt73-modules-<kernel-version-arch> (arch=686 in my case) and rutilt packages.

To configure the Level One WNC-0301USB 802.11bg wireless dongle.

Many places, e.g. linuxwireless, lists the chipset inside as ZyDAS 1211 . This misinfo sent me off wasting couple of hours wondering why the zd1211rw driver didn’t work. Not until the device ID was examined, had it became apparant that the chipset inside was actually Ralink 2573.

cat /proc/bus/usb/devices

Vendor=148f ProdID=2573 Rev= 0.01
Product=802.11 bg WLAN

The corresponding driver is rt73. It’s a legacy driver and only CVS tarball is available. (Btw, there is an effort in linux-kernel git tree to provide a unified driver rt2x00 to support all ralink wireless devices. However, that driver, included in 2.6.24 is still too experimental at the time of writing.) While at the download page, I also grabbed RutilT, a wireless configuration utility, which turns out to be quite handy. To compile the rt73.ko kernel module, I need kernel-headers. One shortcut is to use module-assistant

apt-get install module-assistant

Although module-assistant doesn’t have rt73 as an opition, I used it to prepare the necessary compile environment (just lauch it and choose “prepare). It will downlaod linux-kernel-headers.

cd rt73-cvs-xxxx/Module; make; make install

It will place the firmware file rt73.bin under /lib/firmware and rt73.ko under /lib/modules/2.6.xx-x/extra.

cp /lib/modules/2.6.xx-x/extra/rt73.ko /lib/modules/2.6.xx-x/kernel/driver/net/wireless

modprobe rt73

The dongle should be recognized and the wlan0 interface should be opened.

To complie Rutilt

apt-get libgtk2.0-dev
./ --launcher=nopasswd; make; make install