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Thursday, September 1st, 2005

OS and Machine Rebuild

How I got my Hawking HWP54G PCI wireless card working with Linux, and links to drivers, instructions and forums so that you can do it too.

If you came here through a search engine link, you should try my updated post for more details and tons of links.

Original post:
I’ve gotten so blasé about installing Linux that I am looking for something to keep me occupied during the process – such as rebuilding a partially disassembled computer of unknown origin.

Last night I got the chance to burn that downloaded dvd iso of Fedora Core 4 that has been sitting in my downloads folder for a couple of weeks. I’ve been without FC3 on my computer since I attached my LCD flatscreen (the beginning of July), and I never did get my Hawking HWP54G PCI wireless access card working under SuSE. So rather than troubleshoot the FC3, which I’ve never had to do after installing new hardware (although I’m sure it’s not hard – it’s just a little tough to learn when you don’t have I/O), I decided to take the opportunity to upgrade. There’s only been one thing holding me back from this decision – having to reinstall the RaLink rt2500 drivers for the Hawking. I know I can do it – I did it before, and knew a lot less then than I do now – but this time I’ll have to write down each and every little step I take until it works.

You see, the number one search word that leads people to my website is “hwp54g”, followed closely by “linux” and an assortment of modifiers. The number one post visited is my crappy description of how I got the damned thing working. I also remember how my inability to get a cheap wireless network card working with Linux prevented me from really trying to switch over to that OS for literally years. And I would really like to come up with a better, more detailed, step-by-step description of how to do it than the aforementioned post, which is really only a reproduction of my thread of pleading posts from the SourceForge forum for the rt2x00 drivers project (which is now hosted at serial monkey’s site.) And yeah, it would be nice to have something that didn’t include my stupid newbie questions like “what does ‘$’ and ‘#’ mean on the command line?”

So I’m going to do this thing, and I need to do it by Friday night, because that’s when my wife comes back from her trip to show off Boo to her old friends in Laughlin. Right now is a rare time for tackling involved projects that I’ve had sitting on my to-do list.

I installed the FC4 a couple of times last night, overwriting the FC3 and using the same partitions. The first time everything went fine, but I elected not to replace the bootloader that SuSE had installed – the same GRUB, but with nicer graphics and a cute visual countdown during the time I have to select the OS I want to boot to. I also did this because I recalled the problems I had with GRUB after installing a second Linux. I really should have canceled the installation at that point and started it again after I had gone back and found the boot options I had for SuSE, because I should have known it was going to get messed up. But I didn’t, so when I rebooted, my old grub.conf tried to launch FC4 with FC3 options. I rediscovered the same old problem again and ultimately reinstalled FC4 fresh with the bootloader, so I still need to fix the SuSE boot options now.

Maybe I would have taken a different tack if I hadn’t been distracted by my rebuild. It started off looking like a simple reassembly, but when I got done and plugged it in, nothing happened, except that I saw the light go on on the network card. So it became a troubleshooting job, and I started by unplugging everything. It was the power supply, although it hadn’t completely failed. I had another one that had been stashed away forever, but when I pulled that one out, it was even more dead. Rats. I still don’t even know if the motherboard/cpu works, but a dead 200W power supply with as many accessories as this box has is encouraging. I want to use this box as a free-standing Linux webserver. Now that will force me to learn more!

Posted by Greg as Hardware & Drivers, OS at 09:08 PST

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