Atheros-based wireless devices

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Wireless LAN devices based on the Atheros 5000 series (a, b, g) chipsets use a Linux kernel device driver that can be obtained from the MadWifi project. Installation directions are also on the project website. In MEPIS 6.5, 7.0, and 8.0, the package madwifi-modules is included by default.

The Mepis 8 kernel also provides another built-in driver, ath5k, which provides a "wlan0" interface coupled with the "ghost" wmaster0 interface. This driver is completely open source, in contrast to the madwifi ones, which contain a closed source firmware "blob", and will cause the kernel to complain that it is "tainted" at boot.

The Mepis 8 kernel also provides the ath9k open source driver for Atheros 9000 series "pre-n" chipsets. There is no equivalent madwifi driver for these chipsets. The ath5k and ath9k drivers are considered to be the future path of support for Atheros chipsets.

The drivers allow your WLAN card to appear as a normal network interface in the system. Additionally there is support for the wireless extensions that allow you to configure the device using the wireless tools (iwconfig etc.) explained here in the Wiki under Command_line_utilities.

Madwifi drivers use the interface wifi0 as a control interface for some sort of lower level access to the wireless chipset. Be sure that wifi0 is unchecked for starting at boot because otherwise it will probably interfere with the regular interface (typically, ath0).

Mepis 8 Issues with 5000 series cards

Both madwifi and ath5k drivers may load at boot time, preventing a proper connection. Test by opening a terminal in Konsole, switching to root with su, and unloading both drivers with

rmmod ath_pci
rmmod ath5k

Then reload one of the drivers only with the modprobe command. For example:

modprobe ath5k

Once you have decided which driver to use, add the one you don't want to the /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist file:

kdesu kwrite /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist

And add a new line, such as

blacklist ath_pci

The madwifi drivers can also be disabled simply by uninstalling the madwifi-modules package.

Ath5k may not load automatically at boot. It can be forced to load at boot by adding it to the /etc/modules file:

kdesu kwrite /etc/modules



As of March 2009, both ath5k and ath9k are in rapid development. The latest version of these can be upgraded in your system by building and installing the latest set of wireless drivers from


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