Yellow Dog was a version of Linux originally designed for the ‘ol archaic PowerPC processor (Playstation 3, Apple PowerPC, and others) which Apple abandoned on a hardware and software level so much so, it basically forced the entire Apple population to buy the new Intel processor-based MacBook Pros. Almost a pathetic transition out of the old MobileMe and iDisk thinking, Apple dwindled on its 10.5.x OS to the point the BATTERY wouldn’t even display the correct minutes remaining. Well, it certainly worked on me, but I didn’t want to give up on my old machine – or my wife’s who has been using her iPad and nothing else since the new iRevolution of Intel processors.
Many people looking to retrofit their old but still functioning PowerBook G4s with Linux Yellow Dog 6.X have probably noticed after installing their OS that the system does not recognize the wifi hardware already built in to their computer. Well, here’s an easy fix and one that requires a few simple things:
1. Ethernet cable connecting your computer to your router or network
2. Developer Tools (installed) that came with your .iso
3. The ability to type
Once your machine is connected to the internet, click on ‘Terminal’ in your menu bar. Next, you need to assume the root role by typing the following (after which you will be asked for your password):
su – [press enter]
[type your password and press enter]
Then, you need to find out what firmware version of the Airport Extreme card you have. You can do so by typing the following from the root (which should now have # before anything you type):
lspci | grep -i broadcom [press enter]
I got a readout as follows, which most with one of the old G4 12’ laptops should have:
0001:10:12.0 Network controller: Broadcom Corporation BCM4306 802.11b/g Wireless LAN Controller (rev 03)
The important number to look for follows the letters BCM. In this case, my firmware is the 4306 model and I need to download the appropriate drivers for them. So how does this happen? Easy.
From your terminal, you can use the ‘wget’ command to download the appropriate software giving you the ability to install the driver. If you have the same driver as me, from your root (#) you can type the following commands:
wget http://bues.ch/b43/fwcutter/b43-fwcutter-011.tar.bz2 [press enter]
tar xjf b43-fwcutter-011.tar.bz2 [press enter]
cd b43-fwcutter-011 [press enter]
make [press enter]
This will display a string of information indicating that a binary executable named b43-fwcutter has been created. Now, you need to launch it. Type:
We’re almost done! Now we are going back to the web from our root (#) and getting some stuff to extract the Broadcom proprietary drivers. Type:
tar xjf broadcom-wl-184.108.40.206.tar.bz2 [enter]
b43-fwcutter-011/b43-fwcutter -w “/lib/firmware” broadcom-wl-220.127.116.11/driver/wl_apsta_mimo.o
Last, go to your Wicd Network Manager from your menu. Main -> Applications -> Internet -> Wicd Network Manager (Network Manager). Make sure to hit REFRESH and your wireless network should appear. If it is encrypted, you need to hit the little > arrow, click Advanced Settings, checkbox Encryption, select the type of encryption (usually WPA1/2 (Passphrase) for most home users), and enter the key. Hit, OK and you are probably on the Internet with your wireless!
Things to try if this didn’t work:
If you do not have the same driver as me appear after the ‘lspci | grep -i broadcom’ procedure, you can browse the following website: http://bues.ch/b43/fwcutter and try to locate which firmware might be associated with your Wireless Extreme. But in most cases, most of the smaller PowerBooks used the BCM4306. If you have a larger screened model, you might need to do some Google investigation as to which driver you need.
If you did not install the driver tools with the initial OS installation, you can use the following command:
yum groupinstall “Development Tools” [press enter]
If your computer doesn’t seem to recognize the wifi network after all these steps, you may need to simply change its permissions by typing the following:
chmod 755 b43
I can only think of a few other reasons why none of the following would have worked. They are as follow:
The source or site from where you tried to retrieve the fwcutter files from earlier could be down or doesnt exist anymore. That’s okay. Just go to google and enter ‘broadcom-wl-18.104.22.168‘ and the autofill will likely show you what else you were thinking of typing. BAM! Find a working site with a downloadable driver/fwcutter software and replace the link above in the first ‘wget‘ command with the direct link to the file you need.
If none of this stuff worked, I’d try ebay and see if you can’t get a couple hundred bucks out of your machine. Else, you can always try another operating system like Lubuntu or an old version of 10.4.x since Mac OS 10.5 won’t even show you how much battery life you have left [thus the reason why I did this for my wife’s computer in the first place]. Yet, you might have similar problems as these, but with possibly easier fixes (or not).
Regardless, I’ll try to post the (L)Ubuntu fix for the wireless drivers later since the code is very similar and might actually use the exact commands… I’ll do a Lubuntu X.x partition in a bit and let you know! Stay tuned! Meanwhile, enjoy your wifi if it worked and feel free to read some articles to do with completely unrelated material (as computers)
-Nathan H. Fox