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Junior now has some wireless working… Not exactly what I wanted but at least WEP is working Ok. Here is the path I followed:

I have been dissecting the Internet to find all possible links to a possible driver for Via VT6655, until I stumbled upon this page:

From there I downloaded a large binary file containing lots of drivers, including some for Linux. Tried them all, nothing works but I finally got a version of the Windows drivers I had never encountered before. They load fine with ndiswrapper and judging from the output of dmesg, present a working interface to the kernel.

Unfortunately, it seems I cannot upload binary stuff to this blog so you will have to download them from the above site and get them from the directory “windows 98ME2000XP” in the ZIP archive. They also publish a tiny URL for this ZIP file:

For future reference, the files I got had these MD5 signatures:

891b23e6b475aebb26b8a07fef9d73eb VNWL5A.sys
17a711d4271db402dcfa59e8c4084ddb VNWL5B.sys
3918dc675b662e1c0434d53a8a450b86 VNWL.inf

The ndiswrapper version distributed with Debian Etch apparently has problems with this driver, so I un-installed the official version and compiled my own, which I got from
Once installed, change directory to where you downloaded the above files and get the driver in with:

ndiswrapper -i VNWL.inf

Then load the ndiswrapper module into the kernel:

modprobe ndiswrapper

If everything goes fine, you should see something like this with dmesg:

wlan0: ethernet device 00:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx using NDIS driver:vnwl,
version: 0x1001e, NDIS version: 0x500,
vendor:'VIA Networking Solomon Wireless LAN Adapter ',
wlan0: encryption modes supported: WEP; TKIP with WPA,WPA2, WPA2PSK;
usbcore: registered new driver ndiswrapper

Now configure your interface using the /etc/network/interfaces file:

iface wlan0 inet dhcp
wireless-essid MyAccessPoint
wireless-key 1234567890ABCDEF...

Activate your access point with the same ESSID and WEP key, and switch on the interface with: ifup wlan0. You should now be connected.

For WPA, Debian only needs a version of wpa_supplicant to be installed. With Etch, no need to worry about various configuration files for WPA, all you have to do is configure again /etc/network/interfaces with your WPA parameters, like this:

wpa-ssid MyAccessPoint
wpa-driver ndiswrapper
wpa-psk 1234567890ABCDEF...
wpa-key-mgmt WPA-PSK
wpa-group TKIP

All WPA-related options are documented in Debian. You can find a description e.g. here: README.modes

Unfortunately this stops here. wpa_supplicant reports being unable to associate to the driver but no further reason is given so your guess is as good as theirs.

Many possibilities there: I have seen Via distributes a patched version of wpa_supplicant with the latest version of their drivers, but was unable to compile it. It might simply be a bug or insufficient code in wpa_supplicant, I certainly hope it is not a bug in the Windows driver.

So WEP is now working, which proves if needed that the provided hardware is indeed functional. If you are not worried about your network security, I guess this should be enough to get the ball rolling. If you are living like me in an intensive wireless area, you do not want to use WEP at all. WEP is horribly broken, avoid it whenever possible.

Tough nut to crack, but I will get to the end of it!

Written by nicolas314

Tuesday 19 June 2007 at 10:21 pm

Posted in junior

Tagged with , , ,

3 Responses

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  1. Good blog! I found replacing the VT6655 chip with a Ralink 2560 chip made all the difference, using the VT6655 chip as anything other than a client is awfully buggy with ndiswrapper. Ofcourse we can hope Via will release a GPLed version of the diver for Linux?

    Dagfinn Bakken

    Sunday 9 September 2007 at 4:59 pm

  2. Dagfinn: Did you physically replace the chip inside the box, or just change the driver?

    About NVidia releasing a GPL’d driver. Who knows? Apparently it would mean a lot of work to port the existing driver to the latest kernel. Either NVidia finds the resources to dedicate to that, or they share the code with somebody who would be ready to take the challenge to port and maintain it.


    Sunday 9 September 2007 at 5:07 pm

  3. Nicolas, yes I opened up the box and replaced the mini-pci card. I have ordered a new mini-pci card with an Atheros chipset to run the Microclient as a wireless accesspoint (master) and captive portal. Those mini-pci cards are cheap. I believe Norhtec will be supplying different wifi cards as an option in the future, afterall the VT6655 chip is not exactly Linux friendly.

    Dagfinn Bakken

    Monday 10 September 2007 at 8:12 pm

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