How To Enable Wireless Networking on the Macbook : Ubuntu 7.10

By | 2007/10/24

With the new release of Ubuntu 7.10 I figured I should go back and revisit some of my macbook specific tutorials.  Today I’ll touch on configuring / enabling wireless on the macbook (second-gen) in Ubuntu 7.10.

Enable Wireless on the Macbook

  1. sudo aptitude install build-essential
  2. wget -c
  3. tar -zxf madwifi-trunk-current.tar.gz
  4. cd madwifi-ng-*
  5. make
  6. sudo make install
  7. sudo modprobe ath_pci
  8. sudo modprobe wlan_scan_sta

You should now be able to scan for wireless broadcasts and connect to available networks without restarting your machine.  Enjoy.

25 thoughts on “How To Enable Wireless Networking on the Macbook : Ubuntu 7.10

  1. David

    I have a thinkpad x40 that uses ath_pci, ath_hal, etc. It works out of the box, so long as you allow it to use restricted drivers. Does that not work for macbooks?

  2. Ubuntu Tutorials

    @David – unfortunately it still does not work out of the box on the macbook. Even the restricted driver manager doesn’t suggest it as an option. This is one thing near the top of my list for improvements for Ubuntu 8.04.

  3. Pingback: How to setup wireless on a macbook using madwifi : 7.10 “Gutsy” : Ubuntu Tutorials : Dapper - Edgy - Feisty - Gutsy

  4. Kelner

    I think you also have to do ‘sudo depmod -a’ between steps 6 and 7

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  6. Paul


    I was running ndiswrapper before. Upgrading to Gutsy was smooth. wlan0 worked after that with no problem. I just followed this instruction and upgraded to madwifi. I am not able to connect to the AP. Please help.
    Thanks, Paul

  7. Pingback: Enabling Suspend on the Macbook : Ubuntu 7.10 : Ubuntu Tutorials : Dapper - Edgy - Feisty - Gutsy

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  9. Keithb

    Thanks much…This worked for my MacBook duel booting with Tiger. Very nice.

    Thanks again,

  10. dave

    I love you so much, this works great!!!

  11. Emmanuele


    thank you for the nice guide

    I have been using ubuntu on macbook for quite
    a while so far, and I use your same recipe for
    the wireless, but I have a problem:

    the wireless just freezes at some point (randomly, it could be after 5 minutes, after 5 hours, or just after rebooting) and it does not respond to gnome-network-manger.
    The only thing I can do to have wireless again is to reboot.

    am I the only lucky one or is it a known issue ? is there a workaround ?

    thank you,

  12. Nick

    Emmanuele, I am having the same issue (glad to know its not just me) on a macbook 2nd-gen with Gutsy. I’ve noticed that switching to diff. wireless network sometimes brings it back. I’m about to try ndiswrapper, I’ll post back if I have any luck.

  13. Geert

    Fantastic!!! I’ve tried to get my “airport” online for a while, and it just didn’t worked till now (i’m a complete newbie with Linux). Thanks a lot!!!

  14. Jared

    Emmanuele and Nick, I am having the same problem with my MacBook Pro Santa Rosa. I have the newest madwifi drivers via subversion, and after a few hours I can’t connect to my router anymore (with the GUI network-manager tools, nor using the usual command prompt). I tried modprobing ath_pci and wlan_scan_sta, and doing iwpriv ath0 bgscan 0, iwlist ath0 scan, iwconfig ath0 essid, dhclient ath0, etc… None of it works.. it just never connects. I have to reboot every time it happens. It is annoying because most of the time when I leave my laptop on at home and I want to ssh to it from school, it isn’t even on the internet so I can’t access it. For some reason, once in a while, rebooting doesn’t even fix it (several reboots in a row), and I am forced to recompile/reinstall the madwifi drivers. I can’t figure out why this is happening. Any ideas?

  15. Jared

    Umm.. I was told that I have the Santa Rosa… I guess whoever told me that was wrong, because that link says the Santa Rosa has a broadcom card. I have an atheros card and use madwifi.
    lspci returns:
    0b:00.0 Network controller: Atheros Communications, Inc. AR5418 802.11a/b/g/n Wireless PCI Express Adapter (rev 01)
    I got this new laptop a little over a week ago, so it’s whatever the newest one is called.. I guess that’s not Santa Rosa..?

  16. Kevin

    I’m not certain how these things work with Mac, but it’s not uncommon for hardware manufacturers to quietly change chips on you. As far as Santa Rosa goes, the “official” Intel Santa Rosa chipset includes (no surprises) the Intel Wireless WiFi Link 4965AGN. The wireless card however is a common deviation from the Intel mainline since it can be easily switched via the MiniPCIe slot (probably under your keyboard).

    The problem with the madwifi drivers is that they only support the Atheros AR5418 chipset in the highly unstable development snapshot that must be installed as outlined above and is plagued also with the above problems in addition to not supporting 11n mode.

    You’re not going to see AR5418 support in Ubuntu until madwifi officially releases it. That however is unlikely to happen any time soon as madwifi development has shifted over to the ath5k drivers which are all open source (rather than hal based). Basically someone has to hack the AR5418 to see what makes it tick and Atheros are not going to be of any help. If you have Santa Rosa, it might be worth investigating an upgrade to the Intel chip which is natively supported in the kernel.

    As for a less drastic solution than reboot to the flaky wireless, you could try just putting the computer to sleep and then waking it up. Depending on your platform, this should look pretty much like a reboot to your wireless card.

    Also, if you’re using a 32 bit kernel, I highly recommend using ndiswrapper with the windows driver that can be found on the Lenovo website listed below.

    Here’s the Thinkwiki article for the wireless card in Thinkpads that uses the same chip:

  17. techiehenry

    I was able to install Ubuntu Hardy just a while ago on my MacBook.

    Followed your instructions on how to enable the wi-fi adapter, and now I can surf wirelessly.

    Thanks! 🙂

  18. Alex

    When I entered the commands after “make install,” I got nothing. Terminal just jumped to the next line without doing anything. “make install” worked just fine, but after that it seems that the other commands aren’t doing anything.

    I’m running the second-gen Intel MacBook with Ubuntu Hardy Heron 8.04.

  19. Dan

    I’m running Ubuntu on my Intel MacBook using the virtualization software Parallels. I couldn’t get the wireless to work in Ubuntu, so I changed the settings in Parallels to use the AirPort’s wireless signal for the internet while virtualizing. In Ubuntu it says I have a wired connection but it is actually using the AirPort connection. Hope this helps you.

  20. Rick Bodey

    Thanks so much works so great!!! Perfect.

  21. Gray

    You’re a God.
    I love you so much.

    You need to update the links though :X
    Had to do a bit of researching 😀

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