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USB wireless adapters


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#1 Dark Magician Girl

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Posted 24 April 2017 - 05:53 AM

I have been having trouble finding USB wireless adapters that support Linux. Those that claim to support Linux are sometimes hit or miss according to reviewers. Adding more to the confusion is that USB wireless adapters that claim to support Linux often don't specify which distributions and versions they support. I recently read that I should be looking for not so much any specific USB wireless adapter but rather the type of chip that it uses. What chips should I be looking for in a USB wireless adapter? Which of these chips are more recent and better?

 

I'm not sure which Linux distribution I would be using, but should I decided to use one, it would probably be Linux Mint. Maybe Elementary OS. 



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#2 The-Toolman

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Posted 24 April 2017 - 10:40 AM

Don't know for sure as I don't use wireless but I do trust and use the wise ones advice and suggestions.

 

https://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?f=60&t=241874&sid=ceb2114e1c31d2854f873ecd58da0786

 

Hope this helps.


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#3 Viper_Security

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Posted 24 April 2017 - 12:58 PM

Odd, I've used variants of Debian, Arch, and ARM,with around 67 different computers/devices. and have had zero issues, i just recently bought a new mouse from verbatim, and plugged it into my usb3 worked immediately, no wait or anything, even the extra buttons, same with my usb2. as for wireless, try to shoot for one that does NOT  require extra software to run, Also would this be plugged into a tower? (I'm assuming so since almost all usb wireless drivers are supported OOTB  for laptops) and you may want to try a PCI/e Card instead of USB. would be much less of a hassel and sometimes cheaper than an USB wireless device.

 

 

Some USB (Nano or not) Receivers  on linux require you to install a "legacy" driver like bcm43xx.

 

 

I bought a Kinivo Bluetooth 4.1(0?) device, plugged it into my linux tower, and boom, worked immediately, after i plugged it in, my update manager said I had an update (it knew and installed blueman(bluez)) for me.

 

 

Personally i would go with a Rosewell like this one, https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833166098

 

And just to reiterate, most devices when plugged into a Linux machine do not need additional drivers, and i have personally have had better luck with rosewell and D-Link adapter as well as some linksys.


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#4 MadmanRB

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Posted 24 April 2017 - 04:42 PM

For the most part wireless drivers right now in linux are actually pretty good but its still a good idea to know what wireless devices work well with linux and dont need special drivers to work.

Here is a web page with a few of them:

http://www.wirelesshack.org/top-linux-compatible-usb-wireless-adapters.html

 

Now note:

The compatibility list for linux is higher than that but some chipsets do have issues like broadcom.

Realtek tends to work as does atheros, railink can have issues but do work as well.

Depends on your linux version really, Mint for example does seem to have the best luck as a mainstream distro.

TP-link for me I have had the most success with


Edited by MadmanRB, 24 April 2017 - 04:43 PM.

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#5 Mike_Walsh

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 03:40 AM

Mm. Yes, it can be awkward.....but on the whole, assuming you're running an up-to-date kernel, just about everything is now supported. As Viper says, just plug it in and it's almost guaranteed to work.

 

I also agree with Madman about Atheros and RealTek chipsets being well-supported. I've used both for some time, swapping back & forth between distros, and generally don't have any trouble. We sometimes have problems in Puppy due to the fact that many Pups deliberately run older kernels (to cater for older hardware), but our 'gurus' are pretty good about keeping the community supplied with compatible drivers. We have some seriously competent coders/compilers in our ranks!

 

Yes, with wireless, it's got nothing to do with brand or model (or even whether it says it supports Linux); it's all about the chipsets. I don't take a scrap of notice of what reviewers and manufacturers claim: I like to do my own research (preferably before purchase) and use this site to identify the chipsets used in wireless adapters, and whether or not they're supported by the Linux kernel:-

 

https://wikidevi.com/wiki/Main_Page

 

Some companies go out of their way to specifically state they "don't make Linux drivers"; their products will often run happily in Linux.....as long as the chipset is supported, and there's a compatible kernel-driver.

 

I'm going to make one recommendation. It's a NetGear model; it's a USB 'mini-dongle' (not quite as small as a 'nano', but still pretty small).....and it employs the widely-used RealTek rtl8192cu wireless chip.

 

The NetGear WNA 3100M.

 

 

6MijTBQ.png

 

 

I've used this thing with so many distros this last 2-3 years, and have yet to find one it won't work with OOTB. It's been supported by the kernel since March 2012 (k3.3)

 

https://wikidevi.com/wiki/Netgear_WNA3100M

 

The WPS button is for auto-connection with your router, if it supports it. It's generally operable under Windows; I don't yet know whether or not anybody's had a go at implementing this feature in Linux. Be that as it may, it nevertheless works. (99 times out of 100, anyway...) It's unusual to find something it won't work with; on the very rare occasions when that's the case, my trusty TP-Link WN725N 'nano' adapter usually comes to the rescue..!

 

https://www.amazon.com/NETGEAR-N300-Wireless-Adapter-WNA3100M/dp/B006V72AHW/ref=sr_1_5?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1493109504&sr=1-5&refinements=p_89%3ANETGEAR

 

 

Mike.  :wink:


Edited by Mike_Walsh, 25 April 2017 - 06:17 PM.

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#6 cat1092

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 04:31 AM

I've used many USB wireless adapters on Linux Mint with success. :)

 

The main thing is not getting one that too deeply discounted (read reviews), many of these will get hot fast, and why these are literally given away. Once these gets hot, it'll be known, there'll be disconnects, downloads will take longer than normal, and if it's a large one, such as a Linux ISO, better be using a download manager, as the more strain on it, the hotter, and that D/L manager will be the only thing that'll keep the connection from breaking & having to start over again. By chance I have one of these purchased years back, of the AZIO brand (N-150), it's very small, and probably due to it's construction, gets hot within 5 minutes. :(

 

Like everything else, normally we get what we pay for. My next one will be a genuine ALFA brand from an authorized dealer. At $34.99, a bit pricey, yet top rated & better than any that I have. I did unscrew the removable antenna of my first (no name) N-150 USB wireless adapter & replaced with a genuine ALFA antenna (the same that's on several of their cards for $8.99), and what a difference it made! :thumbsup:

 

By chance, this model is often on promo for less than $15, the TP-LINK TL-WN722N (N-150), I have two (one unopened) & runs great. It was once a desired USB wireless card for Kali users. As can be seen by the sheer number of reviewers, it's withstood the test of time (7 years on the market & still moving), I highly recommend it to anyone on a budget. Free shipping also as of this date at $13.99. :)

 

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833704045

 

It also has a removable antenna & can be replaced with a larger/different one, the ALFA antenna that I mentioned above also works well with this card. Probably the best card for the price, IMO. Note that it once was 2x the cost, which is why I didn't purchase it 5-6 years back. :)

 

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Edited by cat1092, 25 April 2017 - 04:40 AM.

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#7 The-Toolman

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Posted 26 April 2017 - 08:23 PM

Hey cat1092,

 

I have one of those TP-LINK TL-WN722N (N-150) wireless usb adapters.  

 

The one I have is excellent with excellent signal strength and runs very cool.

 

It has a green LED indicator to show that it is working. 

 

 

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#8 cat1092

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Posted 27 April 2017 - 04:17 AM

The-Toolman, I figured I wasn't the only one on this Forum with one of those models, I'd bet that Viper has also has had one at some point. :)

 

When I purchased on Newegg, there was a promo for $12.49 with a limit of one, so purchased there, checked out an email from B&H Photo/Audio, which carries a lot of PC items also, a lot of networking cards, routers & modems. Just so happened they had the same promo (B&H price matches), and the item had free Expedited Shipping, was at my door before the one from Newegg came, although sometimes I'll get a roughed up item from there, so waited & opened that package, all was OK. 

 

Then went to looking for ALFA antennas, and ran across this one at $7.97, the business is an authorized dealer. Here's the antenna I purchased, how I known how great is is, with free shipping and an extra $1.40 discount, would had purchased two. 

 

https://store.rokland.com/products/alfa-7-dbi-gain-rp-sma-directional-panel-antenna-apa-m04

 

Originally found the antenna under 'Long Range' WiFi Equipment', which has some other nice wireless hardware, including adapters. :)

 

https://store.rokland.com/collections/long-range-wi-fi-equipment

 

Ny next wireless card will likely come from the choices on this page, from this dealer, they ship extra fast! Most likely, one of the models between the $34.97-$39-97 range. We get what we pay for, and as the distributor stated about one of the 2W models for $24.97, that wattage in itself isn't everything, many factors to consider beyond that spec alone. :thumbup2:

 

https://store.rokland.com/collections/802-11n-wi-fi-clients-receivers

 

If I were still a homeowner, most certainly be in the market for a permanent mount solution, preferably on a flagpole (no, that's no typo). A true flagpole, going as high as the pine trees that lines the street, like many schools & public places has. Expensive yes, yet worth it as a long term investment when living within capture distance of several local businesses with free wireless. There's at least one well rated VPN with Lifetime promo (5 devices), including Linux for $34.99, the service simply must be caught on promo to get the deal. One can combine free wireless connections with a quality VPN & Firewall enabled, that stops the sniffing of traffic & more important, our online credentials. 

 

I can consider one of the flat panel devices that mounts to the power pole, although would be just a little better than a powerful wireless card, and that's if pointing in the right direction. Otherwise, one of the portable models may be better for my usage here, and will be likely the way I go. The one thing that I cannot emphasise enough is that we get what we pay for.

 

A note on 'AC' choices, these aren't always as good as a N-150/300, as well as N-600/900, the main difference is wide coverage within a specific area (normally one's property), the router itself & adaptors on all computers. These can also connect more devices at once with steady speeds. Yet in a parking lot looking for a free wifi connection, normally most any 'N' spec card will outperform the 'AC' models, because the shortcoming of AC is long distance. Yes it has dense coverage, although only within a specific area, usually one's home/property. If one's looking at a site 3-4 blocks away, forget it, AC wasn't designed nor marketed for that purpose, and where a quality 'N' adapter is the far better choice. Having an adjustable antenna is a plus, and many USB wifi cards has these, including ALFA. :)

 

Do your homework, try not to waste cash on $5 'Shell Shockers' or eBay knockoffs, as several of these inferior models can pay for a quality one, that'll be reliable for a long time. Lastly, make sure that the business is an authorized dealer, particularly when purchasing ALFA products. Just because these are shown on Amazon, doesn't imply that all are genuine, many are 3rd party sellers with no support after the sale. 

 

A smart consumer is the one who doesn't 'pull the trigger' on the first product making claims that's bogus, example, wifi adaptors in the US market are regulated, no one can legally sell 5W USB adaptors. It's against the law, for safety reasons to begin with, these must be outdoor mounted if used. Plus there's one channel that's used elsewhere in the World for wifi reserved for government/military use only. 

 

WiFi has been a nice perk since the wireless G spece was released, and continues to grow, as smartphone users can have huge on data caps by disconnecting from their ISP & onto a guest or home network when desired. and will continue to be one for years to come. With the right device (doesn't have to be the most expensive), one can have a fantastic portable experience, even on a tower PC, am typing this post on my 2nd best PC with a PCIe mounted WiFi adapter of the AC1200 spec (only due to bing on promo), and have the Bluetooth 4.0 connected to an empty USB 2.0 port, required for this function. In fact, this was the only model, the lowest one on the chart, that included any BT. :)

 

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?item=N82E16833320293

 

By chance, didn't recall this being an 'AC' connection until looking at my Newegg order history, although knew that the models that were up to 3x the cost didn't include BT. :question:

 

Note that some of the negative reviewers were posting as such because they didn't read the details, it was stated that an extra USB header was required for BT, and these are the types of reviews of most any product that should be read closely & compared with documentation (may be an online link) & why I purchased this accessory for 'just in case', Was out of stock days after I ordered & before arrival to my home. 

 

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811997024

 

The cool thing is not only does it add two USB 2.0 headers, also a pair of internal USB ports for the download, storage & install of drivers for when needed. Although I'll likely install that one on a PC for another for upgrade & purchase this better one instead, has more USB 2.0 headers. Good for MB's that has all USB 3.0 onboard ports, as well as cases with the same. Some devices requires & works best on USB 2.0 ports. Neat accessory for the price, maybe $5 more than the one I purchased above & far newer model. :thumbsup:

 

https://www.nzxt.com/products/internal-usb-hub

 

Cat


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#9 dna9

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Posted 28 April 2017 - 12:34 PM

I have been having trouble finding USB wireless adapters that support Linux. Those that claim to support Linux are sometimes hit or miss according to reviewers. Adding more to the confusion is that USB wireless adapters that claim to support Linux often don't specify which distributions and versions they support. I recently read that I should be looking for not so much any specific USB wireless adapter but rather the type of chip that it uses. What chips should I be looking for in a USB wireless adapter? Which of these chips are more recent and better?

 

I'm not sure which Linux distribution I would be using, but should I decided to use one, it would probably be Linux Mint. Maybe Elementary OS. 

 

 

check here:  http://www.wirelesshack.org/top-linux-compatible-usb-wireless-adapters.html

 

usually atheros and realtek chipsets work out of the box.



#10 cat1092

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Posted 28 April 2017 - 01:50 PM

check here:  http://www.wirelesshack.org/top-linux-compatible-usb-wireless-adapters.html

 

 

usually atheros and realtek chipsets work out of the box.

 

 

Yes, as long as it's constructed well, so as not to run hot after 5-10 minutes of casual use, or by downloading a 1.5GB Linux ISO, and the connection gets slower & slower......even if using a download manager. :)

 

BTW, the one I'm speaking of, linked above & below, has an Atheros chipset, check out the specs close, my internal Intel 7260 AC adapter is disabled just for this post as a test that it works. 

 

Spoiler

 

The one I posted a link for in the above post & will again below, for the price, is an unbeatable value, have used a lot when in public establishments as well as home. It's not been a top seller for the last 7 years for no reason, lower quality models falls off the charts fast as the negative reviews pours in. Chances are, some or many of the negatives on this one are Mac owners complaining, because they failed to read the specs before purchase. Then becomes a crybaby because they feel since their computer is a Mac, everything attached/plugged in is supposed to magically work, plug & play. Boo-hoo-hoo! :lol: :lol: :lol:

 

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833704045

 

Also, here's the downloadable Product Guide (has been on here for years), so one knows what we're getting for our money. And yes, the card supports Linux, again, am typing this post with the card plugged in & connected, as shown in the Spoiler link, although certainly not Mac compatible. :)

 

https://images10.newegg.com/UploadFilesForNewegg/itemintelligence/TPLINK/TL_WN722N_User_Guide1400430611437.pdf

 

Cat


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#11 Dark Magician Girl

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Posted 28 April 2017 - 05:09 PM

While reading through the responses, I realized something. My current USB wireless adapter is a Belkin, model F7D1101 v1; and it worked well for browsing on Linux Mint 15 and 16. If I recall correctly, it worked without having to do anything on my part. According to Windows' device manager, it uses the RTL8192su chip, something I just learned. The reason I am upgrading it is because it does not support my connection's new throughput (200 Mbps).  

 

The same day I upgraded my connection, I purchased a new router, a Netgear R6400; so I am looking for a USB wireless adapter that supports dual-band and wireless ac. These are two USB wireless adapters that I have been looking at:

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B018TX8IDA/ref=psdc_13983791_t2_B01G8IPLD8

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LW442N4/ref=psdc_13983791_t1_B01CCMUN8C?th=1

 

According to a reviewer, the former has a RTL8811AU chip; and the latter has a RTL8811 chip. Neither of these chips are listed hereI'm not sure if the chips are the same. I'm leaning more towards the former because it supports beamforming, which my new router also supports. This is for an old desktop that is located on the floor above the router. I have been looking at USB wireless adapters with external antenna, though I am considering expanding my search to those with internal antenna because one with internal antenna may be useful when I get a laptop and take it places.

 

By the way, how do I determine which chips are most recent? The aforementioned link doesn't specify any dates. 



#12 Dark Magician Girl

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Posted 28 April 2017 - 05:31 PM

Being a recent technology, how well does wireless ac fair on Linux distributions, particularly mainstream ones such as Linux Mint? This link, which MadmanRB and dna9 posted, states many have been successful at getting ac to work well on Linux when using the RTL8812AU chipset, which suggests to me that getting ac to work properly can be hit or miss. 


Edited by Dark Magician Girl, 28 April 2017 - 05:35 PM.


#13 Mike_Walsh

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Posted 28 April 2017 - 06:51 PM

Going for the very newest chipsets is actually letting yourself in for a whole load of grief.

 

Unlike Windows, where device manufacturers write drivers for their brand-new devices so that they will work, OOTB, the instant they hit the shelves, the situation is a little bit different where the Linux kernel is concerned.

 

Although each new release of the kernel supports more & more devices (the kernel is over 95% nothing but drivers by this stage), you have to remember that with relatively few exceptions, most companies can't be bothered to offer any kind of Linux support at all. So each driver has to be painstakingly 'reverse-engineered' from its Windows counterpart. And you have to remember, too, that the vast majority of Linux developers do all this stuff in their spare time.....while holding down a full-time job to pay the bills.

 

This stuff is done for the love of it; not for a wage-packet at the end of the week. The upshot being, that if a device driver for something new makes it into the kernel within 4-6 months, that's fast.

 

You're honestly better off sticking with the 'tried & tested'. It's going to be more predictable (and reliable).....and by that point in time, almost certainly bug-free. I can appreciate you wanting the latest & greatest wireless adapter to go with your shiny new router, but it honestly isn't that critical. TBH, I cannot envisage one single application where you'll actually achieve 200 MBps throughput under real-world conditions. You'll be lucky to achieve half that. 75% of the time, your router is easily capable of outputting far more than most adapters can take advantage of.....

 

 

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Edited by Mike_Walsh, 28 April 2017 - 06:58 PM.

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#14 The-Toolman

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Posted 28 April 2017 - 06:54 PM

This is for an old desktop that is located on the floor above the router.

 

 

Since this is for an old desktop I would look at a high power pci wireless adapter with three antennas.

 

I have had better luck with that type wireless device on desktops.

 

I prefer a wired connection as nothing can compare imo.

 

I have no need for wireless as I'm not a mobile user


Edited by The-Toolman, 28 April 2017 - 06:56 PM.

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#15 jonuk76

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Posted 28 April 2017 - 07:28 PM

Hanging around I've got a cheap TP Link TL-WN823N single band USB wifi card, and an Asus USB-N53 dual band card, and both worked fine with Linux Mint 17, which is what I was using when I tried them.  Both just plug and play, no extra drivers required.  As said, I think the chipset the card uses just needs to be supported by the kernel. There are a limited number of companies that make wifi chipsets.


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