Dell 600m, getting wireless to work

I have an older Dell 600m that came with 512k memory, Windows XP Home edition, no power supply and a few broken keys. From ebay I increased the memory to 1.2 gig ($34), replaced the keyboard ($17), and bought a new power supply ($11), for a parts cost of $62.

For a friend, I had tried to clean up the Windows installation twice, and tired of tying to make XP Home work right, I decided to install Ubuntu 9.04. It was a very easy install, except that the onboard broadcom wireless card was not recognised by the operating system.

I used this command from a shell to learn some details about the wireless card:

lspci -vnn | grep 14e4

Which gave this result:

02:00.0 Ethernet controller [0200]: Broadcom Corporation BCM4401-B0 100Base-TX [14e4:170c] (rev 02)
02:03.0 Network controller [0280]: Broadcom Corporation BCM4318 [AirForce One 54g] 802.11g Wireless LAN Controller [14e4:4318] (rev 02)

After looking at some forums, I decided to install a program from the Synaptic Pakcage manger called b43-fwcutter, which is described as:

a utility for extracting Broadcom 43xx firmware, fwcutter is a tool which can extract firmware from various source files. It’s written for BCM43xx driver files.

For whatever reason, and I certainly did not understand it, this completely fixed the problem. I rebooted the computer and the wireless worked just fine.

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