Fixing Wifi on the Eee PC 900

In my previous post, I described the problems I had getting my new Eee PC 900 to connect to my wireless network.  The problem I ran into involved configuring the Wifi connection to support WPA2-PSK security.  WPA2-PSK is currently one of the better secure encryption schemes commonly supported on wireless home networking gear.  It seems that the Network Connections GUI on the Eee PC 900 allows the user to setup a WPA connection but not a WPA2-PSK connection.  This is really a shame since the underlying software, the wpa_supplicant, does support WPA2-PSK.

The heart of my home network is a D-Link DIR-655 Xtreme N Gigabit Router.  This router has been running flawlessly for over a year and has been supporting four different wireless clients.  It came as a bit of a shock when I could not configure the wireless interface on the Eee PC 900 to connect to the D-Link router.  It seemed unbelieveable that a hot, new wireless Netbook would not support WPA2 out of the box.

Turning to the web for some help, it didn’t take me long to find the enthuiast site EeeUser.com. Searching through the fourms, I quickly learned that I was not the only one to have problems configuring the Wifi interface for WPA2.  This problem was so widespread that one user created a Wiki entry on Advanced WPA Configuration (thank you bryan).  Using the Wiki page as a guide, I was finally able to get my Eee PC 900 to connect to my D-Link wireless router.  In my case, I didn’t need to install the wpa_supplicant and drivers, they were already present.

The first step was creating a new network connection.  The Wiki does a good job of explaining this so I will not repeat the precess here.  The reason for creating (a non-working)  network connection first is to have the GUI create a first pass of the configuration files.  I prefer to edit a file rather than create it from scratch.

After creating the network connection, the next step is to edit the resulting file found at the path /etc/network/interfaces.  The changes involve inserting two lines to invoke an alternative wireless configuration file.  This process is clearly described in the Wiki.

The next step is to create the alternate wireless conf file.  I found the easiest way to do this is to cd to the /etc directory and type:

cp /etc/wpa_supplicant.conf.ath0/etc/wpa_supplicant.conf_MINE

The file wpa_supplicant.conf_MINE is the version that is customized for your wireless network.  This is the file that works for me:

ctrl_interface=/var/tmp/wpa_supplicant
network={
  ssid=”denkigai”
  proto=WPA2
  key_mgmt=WPA-PSK
  pairwise=CCMP TKIP
  group=CCMP TKIP WEP104 WEP40
psk=bd8a577135194ff49b51b0602355b252ffd89827c07f477a659c498d0c1c93eb
  priority=2
}

To make the above configuration file work with another network, a minimum of two changes will be needed:

ssid=: Enter the name of your access point enclosed in quotes.  The name may already be here if you entered it using the network connection GUI.

psk=: Enter the 64 hex-digit pre-shared key.  To find the pre-shared key, you may need to log into your wireless router for this information.  On the D-Link DIR-655, this information is found under the SETUP tab, WIRELESS SETTINGS, Add Wireless Device with WPS, Manual Configuration Method.  The pre-shared key will appear on the next page.

Now, if your wireless setup is not exactly the same as mine, you may need to make additional changes to the wpa_supplicant.conf_MINE file.  To learn more about what all these entries mean, I suggest you look at the sample wpa_supplicant.conf doc.

I hope this explanation will save you some time if you run into this problem.  Leave a comment if you have any questions.

The Denki-guy

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One Response to “Fixing Wifi on the Eee PC 900”

  1. Fixing Wifi on the Eee PC 900: Part 2 « A walk along the denkigai Says:

    […] problem was a quite different from the WiFi problem I wrote about previously.  In this case, my working configuration suddenly broke.  This is not susposed to happen.  There […]

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