Wireless network not working in OpenSUSE

Q I have downloaded and installed OpenSUSE 10.2 and everything seems to go well, except for my wireless network. I am totally new to this and would appreciate a dummy's guide to setting it up.

A The answer to this depends on the type of chipset used in your wireless card. First, run Yast and go into the Network Card section. If your card is displayed, you can skip ahead, otherwise you'll have to identify the card by running lspci or lsusb (depending on the card type) in a terminal. You may have to type the full path to lspci, /sbin/lspci. Google is great for finding out which drivers you need. For USB devices, there is a useful list of devices and drivers at www.qbik.ch/usb/devices. Once you know the driver you need, the next step is to make sure it is installed. Some drivers are part of the Linux kernel, others need installing separately. Run /sbin/modprobe -l in a terminal to see a list of all in- kernel drivers.

If yours is not listed, use the Search box in Yast's Software Management section to find a suitable package. If it is not in Yast, you need to go to the homepage of the driver to follow the instructions for installing from source. If the driver is present on your system but the card is not recognised, you probably need a firmware file. These are generally extracted from the Windows drivers. Once again, see the driver's website for details. As an example, lsusb identifies my Edimax USB device as a ZyDAS device. The above website confirms this uses the zd1211 drivers (included in recent Linux kernels) but the device also needs firmware files, available from http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=129083.

SUSE expects the firmware files to be in /lib/firmware/zd1211 (other distros may use /lib/firmware), so create this directory, unpack the firmware archive and copy all the files to /lib/firmware/zd1211. Now go back to the Network Cards section of Yast, or start paying attention again if your card was already recognised. Your wireless device should appear in the list - select it and click the Edit button. Select Automatic Address Setup on the Address tab and set Device Activation on the General tab to either On Hotplug if it is a plugin USB device or has a switch (this will cause the wireless network to connect when you connect or turn on the device); otherwise use the Manual setting and control the device from the Network Manager icon in the taskbar. Press Next and Finish to exit the configuration.

Go to the Network Manager applet in the taskbar, which should show a list of available networks. Select yours. If the network is secured with WEP or WPA encryption, you will be asked for the passphrase. If possible, consider turning off encryption on your access point while setting up the connection: let's get the connection working before we add an extra level of complexity! Once the network connection works, disconnect, turn the encryption back on and reconnect. This time SUSE will ask for your WEP or WPA passphrase and you should be connected securely.

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