Ubuntu- Dell Vostro 3560 wireless problem solved (Broadcom 4365 wireless adapter)

linux

This was maddening.

As a part of a grant project, I purchased 15 Dell Vostro 3560 laptops for use in an open source tech lab for teenagers. My goal was to show participants how to use open source tools to create original art pieces. The first step for the project was replacing the Windows 7 OS with Ubuntu on each machine. After I completed that, I booted one up and found that it wouldn’t connect to the wireless Internet. I tried replacing drivers, editing config files, bothering my resident Linux guru endlessly, and praying to ancient Mesopotamian gods, but nothing worked. I was on the brink of giving up hope and teaching the kids how to properly dispose of bad equipment when the incredibly dumb solution revealed itself to us.

The problem was not with the wireless adapter. It’s a dumb code thing somewhere deep in the computer’s insides. What is happening is that Ubuntu is automatically populating the wireless password with the key ring password. Here’s how to fix it:

First, this is the symptom I was experiencing. The wireless icon indicates that it’s searching for a wireless network. Several show up in the list, but it will never connect to any of them. It just keeps searching and searching.

wireless spinning

Periodically, this dialog will pop up. It’s a trick. Due to whatever internal nonsense that is happening, what you enter into this box is meaningless.

wireless dialog

Now, make sure the default wireless driver is enabled.

activated driver

Click the wireless icon and choose “Edit Connections” from the menu.

edit connections

Choose the “Wireless” tab and click “Edit.”

Network connections

Choose the “Wireless Security” tab and you will be at the root of the problem. Click “show password.” Is it identifying your Ubuntu keyring password? If yes, all you need to do is change the password to match your wireless network.

Edit Wireless Settings

Restart your computer and you should automatically connect to your wireless network.

wireless working

In my research, I learned that the Broadcom 4365 is especially finnicky and there are not a lot of forum answers that are able to actually solve this problem. I’d call it a fluke, but I was in the unique position of being able to replicate the issue fifteen times with the same hardware and software. Hope this helps someone.

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