Going wireless on the desktop

Broadband Internet service at the new house comes from Home Telecom in the form of their Velocity Fiber service. They offer up to 1Gbps service, but we opted for the more modest 50 Mbps plan which is more than sufficient for our needs.

Installation at the house went pretty smoothly, but could only be installed at one point in the house in the form of a CAT5e cable. I was expecting something similar to Comcast where the broadband would come in via coax and cable modem. In retrospect, I probably should have asked.

I chose to have the installer put the drop in the structured wiring box, figuring I could route it through the rest of the house pretty easily from there using the CAT5e wiring that was run through the house for phone (there turned out to be some kinks in that plan, but that’s a story for another post).

The room that’s become my office and where my desktop is, unfortunately, doesn’t have a CAT5e drop in it (oversight on my part during the planning process). That meant to get online, my computer would have to go wireless for the first time.

Since I couldn’t find where an older USB WiFi adapter got packed away, I did some shopping around and picked up a TP-Link Archer T8E PCIe card from Newegg. Looked like it would be a decent performer and the reviews mentioning Linux said the card worked fine under Fedora and Ubuntu.

Installation of the card was quick and painless, but I couldn’t get Fedora to bring up the card, even after a fresh install of Fedora 24. The kernel detected the card, but the drivers wouldn’t work with it.

A bit of digging showed the adapter uses a Broadcom BCM4360 chipset, which wasn’t supported by the b43 drivers.

Network controller [0280]: Broadcom Corporation BCM4360 802.11ac Wireless Network Adapter [14e4:43a0] (rev 03)

A little more searching brought me to this gist containing a script for installing Broadcom’s wl driver. Downloaded the driver source, compiled and installed, and the WiFi interface popped up. Didn’t even have to reboot the computer. The computer was back online.

The Broadcom wl driver and associated kmod/akmod files are also in the RPMFusion non-free repo, which seems to be catching up with the Fedora 24 release now.

With the proper drivers installed the T8E card is performing pretty well, even with the computer chassis almost directly between the card’s antennas and my wireless router. I’m able to get pretty much the full 50 Mbps from the Internet and can see about 7 other WiFi access points in the neighbourhood. Not sure about what kind of signal strength the card is seeing from my WiFi router, but it’s at least enough for a solid connection. Haven’t tested transfer speeds on the internal network yet but that should still be pretty speedy.


Despite the minor driver snafu, I’m pretty happy with the way the card is performing in the computer and under Fedora. Not quite the “works out of the box” experience I was expecting but still pretty painless.