Mini USB wifi adapter recommendation

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Scott C. MacCallum
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Joined: 03/08/2014

Greetings,

Can someone please recommend a mini USB wifi adapter that does not require non-free software. This one: http://www.amazon.com/Bolse%C2%AE-300Mbps-Wireless-N-Micro-Adapter/dp/B00DTZYHX4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1394908900&sr=8-1&keywords=usb+mini+wireless unfortunately does.

Magic Banana

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Those sold by ThinkPenguin all perfectly work. Besides, by following this link, 25% of the benefits on your purchase go to the Trisquel project: http://libre.thinkpenguin.com

Scott C. MacCallum
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Joined: 03/08/2014

Great! Thanks for the recommendation.

mYself
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Joined: 01/18/2012

Sorry to say that, but you're wrong. I'm not the only one having serious issues with those adapters.

mYself
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Joined: 01/18/2012

Onkyo UWF-1? Are you sure you need an adapter this size? I can confirm by first hand that they're all s***.

http://www.ebay.com/sch/?_nkw=Onkyo+UWF-1&_sop=15
https://www.google.com/search?tbm=shop&q=Onkyo+UWF-1&tbs=vw:l,p_ord:p

Chris

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Joined: 04/23/2011

Some adapters are better than others, but the issues people are having are frequently not the adapters problem.

mYself
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Joined: 01/18/2012

This is another way to say that the problem is with the users rather than the seller. I can assure you that I went through different kernel/firmware versions through the time and it just the made the situation worse. The problem is in the adapter, which is a low-end/quality cheap one. This will not be an issue if the adapter was bought from DealExtreme, Alibaba or other chinese resellers for a few bucks (the manufacturing price of this adapter is just $1) but ThinkPenguin sells it with an unbelievable price tag: $54.00 USD + an extra fee for the shipping costs (all without the extras). The shipping cost should be around the half price of the adapter, though I can be wrong.

At this price the user should expect a complete technical documentation describing the internals along with the datasheet, troubleshooting manual, etc.

As a sidenote, I need to add that my TPE-N150USB is a gift from you sent during the evaluation period so I cannot complain for myself. I'm just tellin' that these adapters are not worth the money.

Chris

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That's not what I was saying at all. The problems with the other piece of hardware. If your USB ports don't have power to them you can't blame the device your sticking in.

Second there have been other issues with the USB controller drivers containing bugs. There was a long standing issue recently resolved that has been repeatedly (for many years) blamed on cheap USB devices (not specifically wifi). The problem was in the driver for the USB code (not specific to a controller I don't believe) and because it was not implemented to spec many devices wouldn't resume properly after suspend. This is another good example. People just don't understand where the costs are, where the problems really lie, etc.

And these adapters are NOT the supposed $1 adapters. The cheap "$1" adapters might be true in massive quantities. They would have a realtek chipset in them. By the time any distributor got these "$1" adapters they would be substantially more due to shipping, importing, and retailing costs. Actual manufacture of parts is extremely cheap compared to all the other costs involved. 2nd most manufacturers are not involved in the design process to any significant degree. That adds additional costs particularly if your dealing in small scale (ie supporting GNU/Linux).

Anyway. These adapters certainly don't retail for $1. They aren't even manufactured at $1 in massive quantities. I know the chipsets and the adapters on the market fairly well. The adapters that are manufactured for $1 are running about $3. They DO NOT work with 100% free software. They are also utter junk and have an extremely poor range. Try moving to another room and there won't be any signal received and/or significant packet loss will occur. Our adapters you can reliably stream 1080p video with. There is no way you'd do that with a "$1" adapter.

axgb
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Joined: 09/22/2013

Instead of telling us what they don't cost, why not tell us what they do cost.

Clearly, if a "manufacturer" is not involved in the design, nor the actual manufacturing, they are not a manufacturer, but an importer.

Chris

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I don't have exact numbers off the top of my head and it's extremely complicated to figure out. There are a lot of nuances you won't remember to factor in. I could spend the time on this or I could spend the time working on getting out another free software friendly product, like say, a wireless router.

We're in the process of getting a new wireless router out the door with Respect Your Freedom certification. However it's complicated because there are no free software distributions that run on modern inexpensive routers. That means we have to spend time developing a new distribution, testing, and getting the router itself RYF certified.

For those who weren't at Libre Planet 2014 we're working on a new distribution called LibreCMC that is 100% free software. Similar to LibreWRT, but modern, and will run on numerous less expensive routers. Currently we have 4-5 tested. We will have one of these routers certified and readily available to purchase flashed and tested with the new distribution.

If your interested here is the new distribution's web site:

http://www.librecmc.org/

The project has actually been a work in progress for a number of years. However the lead developer didn't have the resources to take it to completion until recently. We're helping with this endeavour. It's actually our CTO (and he's a developer) who worked on and got LibreWRT off the ground before exiting (as the project went in a direction he had concerns with). He's doing it in his spare time and we're working with him on testing and other aspects. Part of the sales from the new router will go back toward the project and hopefully keep it going.

Xlash
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Joined: 10/02/2012

If have problems with that adapter you can buy this one: TP-Link TL-WN821N
Is cheap and work fine. You can find this adapter from h-node.org

Michał Masłowski

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https://wikidevi.com/wiki/TP-LINK_TL-WN821N_v4 shows that a version of
TL-WN821N has a Realtek chipset (that needs nonfree firmware), so not
every device labeled as it works with free software: buy it only if you
are sure it's one of the first three versions. I have TL-WN722N which
is bigger, I think it has no version with an unsupported chipset yet.

Chris

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If your having problems there may be other reasons for it. Personally I'd recommend the RTL8187B chipset. It's an older chipset, but works with problematic systems. The only issue I've seen is that these systems also frequently kill off working USB devices over time.

mYself
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Which version? The first two have a chipset that's supported by carl9170 kernel driver, the third is supported by ath9k_htc, and the last one by rtl8192cu which doesn't work on Linux-libre based kernels.

The first two isn't recommended because of the chipset originating from the "draft-n" era, and the last one for obvious reason. Although the third revision is using the ath9k_htc driver, it's a no match for the TP-Link TL-WN822N v2, which easily outperforms this adapter.

Xlash
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Joined: 10/02/2012

True. thanks for correcting it Michal.

mYself
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Personally I do not recommend using the rtl8187 supported cards, which may work just fine, but it's now grossily outdated.

If an external WiFi adapter is _really_ required, and the _quality_matters_, then I recommend the TP-Link TL-WN822N v2 (FCC ID: TE7WN822NV2). This is the best external adapter I'm aware of (and I went through pretty much all the models available on the market). But again, I would rather recommend an internal card than an external.

Chris

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I won't make any comments on RTL8187 specifically, but RTL8187B, a newer version of the chipet from the same family/generation, is the best supported USB wireless chipset in existence. In fact I'd highly recommend it over AR9271 if you need something which you can expect to work near 100% of the time under any and all conditions (other than speed). Where AR9271 adapters don't always work the RTL8187B ones do. There is no firmware and support has existed for years. Now there are some adapters with this chipset that may not be as good. That's possible. In any event I'd highly recommend the adapter in our catalog to anybody who's looking for a basic USB wireless adapter and getting an internal adapter is not an option. N isn't necessarily better than G in all regards particularly when walls are accounted for and internet connections are frequently a messily 1.5-3mbps anyway (which I believe last I checked was the average for the US). A 1 gigabit wifi adapter / ethernet card isn't going to fix your 1.5 mbps connection. The bottleneck is generally the internet connection and not the wifi.

If your one of the lucky ones living in a city with fiber or similar truly high speed connections then yea- go with N.

trisq

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I'm using the ThinkPenguin USB N adapter. https://www.thinkpenguin.com/gnu-linux/penguin-wireless-n-usb-adapter-gnu-linux-tpe-n150usb

It works fine, however being so small, signal strength is not the greatest. Still, there have been no problems streaming video or whatever on my ThinkPad X60s.

I was already using jxself's kernel updates so when I first plugged in the adapter, it just worked.

https://trisquel.info/en/wiki/update-linux-libre-kernel and http://jxself.org/linux-libre/

I've had all sorts of things NOT work for me over the years. I know what that is like. Just saying this combination is working fine for me for whatever that is worth.

sebelius
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Joined: 08/22/2013

The only thing i've noticed with my TPE-N150USB bought from Thinkpenguin.com, is that it has a harder time connecting to the access point of my router. Sometimes i need to bring it closer in order to have it connected.
It works decently for downloading web pages, and youtube-dll videos as well as directly streaming. Basically low singal strenght, but as long as you're within the range it works very good.

Chris

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I have pretty good signal from relatively far away. Not sure what your problem is although there are lots of things that can interfere (walls, pipes, heating ducts, furniture, etc). We do have two other adapters with the same firmware and will also work with Trisquel 6.01 out of the box and/or with a kernel upgrade/firmware install. The other two adapters do get better reception, are faster, and can be used from farther away. None-the-less I'm using the TPE-N150USB myself to stream videos and have been probably longer than anybody. Its never been a problem here. Obviously others will have different experiences and expectations depending on their surroundings.

Scott C. MacCallum
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Joined: 03/08/2014

I ended up buying a TP-LINK TL-WN721N Wireless N150 USB Adapter: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002ZDQHS4/ref=oh_details_o01_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 and I can't say enough good things about it. The only draw back is that it's not mini but I solved this with an attachment hack to my laptop. :) It's an Atheros AR9271 for those interested in the driver.

BrighamKeys

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Anything with an ar9271 ought to work with trisquel 6.0.1 out of the box, it is what I use and you can buy them on eBay for about 8$, they are rather cheap, the branded card is the netgear wna1100

Chris

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That may not be the case actually. There are different IDs and I know one of our adapters requires a newer kernel.

jamathis

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I have had success with the Netgear WG111v2 and WG111v3. They can be found online rather inexpensively as well, less than US$15 most places.

http://h-node.org/wifi/view/en/1/WG111v3/1/1/NetGear/undef/undef/undef/undef/undef