What wifi card should I buy and where? (For a Thinkpad T530)

8 replies [Last post]
Joined: 01/31/2016

I bought this laptop refurbished from newegg, and it came with a nonfree Intel Wifi card that isn't recognized by Trisquel. I'm wondering where I should buy a laptop wifi card that is supported by the latest release of Trisquel, and will fit into my machine.

Joined: 11/01/2021

Well for Trisquel to recognize it, it would have to be a ath9k, the problem?
The stock bios will get in the way... however... there is a solution.

Zerocat might be willing to flash coreboot + me cleaner on it for you.

Or if you know what you are doing, I suppose you could also do so.

But I would be extremely careful if you try that road. To be honest, I would really avoid that altogether and choose the zerocat option.

If you don't like either of those options, the only other option is a usb wifi adapter dongle.

I hope this helps.

Magic Banana

I am a member!

Joined: 07/24/2010

The support of Wi-Fi is a significant problem we face. It will not disappear anytime soon: acquiring a supported USB adapter (or several: I bought five some years ago, to give to people I care about and who want to try a 100% free GNU/Linux distribution) is a lasting investment for your freedom.

To have certainty that a Wi-Fi adapter will work, choose it on https://ryf.fsf.org/products?category=7 that will lead you to some of the few vendors that guarantee that they sell hardware that perfectly works with 100% free GNU/Linux systems. For instance you can buy from http://libre.thinkpenguin.com whose CEO, Chris, is to be thanked for convincing Qualcomm to liberate the firmware for AR7010 and AR9271 chipsets.

If you refuse to support those free-software-activist vendors, paying the (high) price they sell their adapters, search for AR9271, which is by far the more available chipset that will work with 100% free GNU/Linux systems. For instance on sites such as eBay: https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=AR9271

Joined: 11/01/2021

Truthfully, I think it was a PR stunt, by Atheros, but even doing that, even if they don't care, is miles better than all those other wifi vendors.

Although, there is still the option of getting that laptop corebooted and intel me disabled, then you can use whatever wifi card you want.

That being said, its expensive and a pain in the butt to have to ship it to germany, if you live in usa or far from germany in general.

Only Zerocat currently do I trust at all...

But Vikings and Minifree, might also be decent. No idea yet.

Joined: 04/04/2017

Zerocat is a great option if they sell these (and very friendly as well; Kai helped us out with a Pomona clip once when we needed one urgently).

Vikings also sells the Atheros AR5BHB112 (2.4 and 5Ghz, 3x3:3 MIMO, 802.11abgn) miniPCIe adapter which is, IIRC, currently one of the fastest WLAN adapters (450Mbps in theory) you can get without using non-free driver/firmware. We ship from Europe in our soon-to-be-relaunched store.
However you can also get it from Aliexpress, either with the search terms "killer wifi", "AR9380" or "AR5BHB112", it'll just take a lot longer (right now even longer with the Chinese New Year celebrations) and the experience with some of the sellers there is meh in my experience. Make sure it has 3 antenna connectors.

Joined: 02/19/2016

Many thanks for the suggestion, Magic Banana!

Joined: 11/01/2021

Hmm, I don't know why imy 2nd comment here was thumbed down, isn't it better to use coreboot with intel me disabled then to use stock bios and have way less freedom?

At least you can replace that annoying intel wifi card for a libre ath9k wifi card and use a libre distro without any dangerous proprietary blobs.

Or is it the comment about atheros?

I mean, if it wasn't a PR stunt, wouldn't they be open sourcing more of their wifi cards than just ath9k?

That's all I am saying.


Joined: 12/10/2013

Actually, they did release free firmware for another chip, the AR9170. They've done this twice, which is more than any other company. I don't think it was a PR stunt because almost nobody in the wider world cares about free firmware.

Joined: 11/01/2021

I think open source devs care about it though.

Also, the releasing of the ath9k open source code, probably got some people more interested in them as a whole.

That's my thought, as to why.

But you could be right...

But yeah, anything ath10k or newer hasn't been released yet.

So, I think it could be a PR stunt still, but either way, I am glad they did so at all. :)

ath9k is awesome.