iwlwifi

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iwlwifi is the wireless driver for Intel's current wireless chips.

Kernel

To make it work some kernel configuration is needed. The driver supports 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (depending on the device), so IEEE 802.11 should be enabled.

IEEE 802.11

Activate at least cfg80211 and mac80211. Some wireless drivers also require a rate control algorithm.

KERNEL linux-4.1
[*] Networking support  --->
    [*] Wireless  --->
        <*>   cfg80211 - wireless configuration API
        [ ]     nl80211 testmode command
        [ ]     enable developer warnings
        [ ]     cfg80211 regulatory debugging
        [ ]     cfg80211 certification onus
        [*]     enable powersave by default
        [ ]     cfg80211 DebugFS entries
        [ ]     use statically compiled regulatory rules database
        [ ]     cfg80211 wireless extensions compatibility
        <*>   Generic IEEE 802.11 Networking Stack (mac80211)
        [*]   Minstrel
        [*]     Minstrel 802.11n support
        [ ]       Minstrel 802.11ac support
              Default rate control algorithm (Minstrel)  --->
        [ ]   Enable mac80211 mesh networking (pre-802.11s) support
        -*-   Enable LED triggers
        [ ]   Export mac80211 internals in DebugFS
        [ ]   Trace all mac80211 debug messages
        [ ]   Select mac80211 debugging features  ----

Minstrel and its 802.11n support is a rate control algorithm.

Device driver iwlwifi

Use this driver for Intel's current wireless chips. Set it as a module <M> as shown here. Also the correct DVM or MVM option according to the Module column of the firmware table is needed.

KERNEL linux-4.9
Device Drivers  --->
 
        [*] Network device support  --->
 
        --- Network device support
        [*]   Wireless LAN  --->
 
            --- Wireless LAN
            [ ]   ADMtek devices
            [ ]   Atheros/Qualcomm devices
            [ ]   Atmel devices
            [ ]   Broadcom devices
            [ ]   Cisco devices
            [*]   Intel devices
            < >     Intel PRO/Wireless 2100 Network Connection
            < >     Intel PRO/Wireless 2200BG and 2915ABG Network Connection
            < >     Intel Wireless WiFi 4965AGN (iwl4965)
            < >     Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG/BG Network Connection (iwl3945)
            <M>     Intel Wireless WiFi Next Gen AGN - Wireless-N/Advanced-N/Ultimate-N (iwlwifi)
            <M>       Intel Wireless WiFi DVM Firmware support
            <M>       Intel Wireless WiFi MVM Firmware support
            [ ]       Enable broadcast filtering (NEW)
            [ ]       Enable runtime power management mode for PCIe devices (NEW)
                      Debugging Options  --->
            [ ]   Intersil devices
            [ ]   Marvell devices
            [ ]   MediaTek devices
            [ ]   Ralink devices
            [ ]   Realtek devices
            [ ]   Redpine Signals Inc devices
            [ ]   STMicroelectronics devices
            [ ]   Texas Instrument devices
            [ ]   ZyDAS devices
            < >   Simulated radio testing tool for mac80211
            < >   Wireless RNDIS USB support
Important
In case the driver is built into the kernel (<*>) instead as a module (<M>), also the firmware needs to be built into the kernel. See the section When using built-in configuration.
After changes on kernel configuration do not forget to rebuild the kernel.

After rebuilding the kernel and rebooting with this kernel, the selected options can be verified as follows:

Note
Support for the /proc/config.gz pseudo-file is enabled through the Kernel/IKCONFIG_Support feature.
user $zgrep 'IWLWIFI\|IWLDVM\|IWLMVM' /proc/config.gz

Firmware

Also firmware for the individual device is needed as listed in this table. It is available in sys-kernel/linux-firmware and in device-specific sys-firmware/iwlxxxx-*ucode packages.

root #emerge --ask sys-kernel/linux-firmware

When using built-in configuration

In case the driver is built into the kernel (<*>) instead as a module (<M>), also the firmware needs to be built into the kernel.

KERNEL linux-4.1
Device Drivers  --->
 
            Generic Driver Options  --->
 
            -*- Userspace firmware loading support
            [ ]   Include in-kernel firmware blobs in kernel binary
            (iwlwifi-xxxx.ucode) External firmware blobs to build into the kernel binary
            (/lib64/firmware) Firmware blobs root directory
            [ ] Fallback user-helper invocation for firmware loading

In this case replace iwlwifi-xxxx.ucode with the exact firmware name. Some attention seems to be needed for FW_LOADER_USER_HELPER_FALLBACK.

Network device names

Network device names eth0, eth1, etc. as provided by the kernel could be changed on boot (see dmesg) by the /lib/udev/rules.d/80-net-name-slot.rules udev rule.

To keep the classic naming this rule can be overwritten with an equally named empty file in the /etc/udev/rules.d directory:

root #touch /etc/udev/rules.d/80-net-name-slot.rules


Testing

After a reboot with the new kernel or after loading the modules, the device can be checked for availability by using following methods:

/sys file system

Get the device name by listing the /sys/class/net directory contents using ls -al or the tree command (provided by the app-text/tree package):

user $tree /sys/class/net
/sys/class/net/
├── enp2s14 -> ../../devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:1e.0/0000:02:0e.0/net/enp2s14
├── lo -> ../../devices/virtual/net/lo
├── sit0 -> ../../devices/virtual/net/sit0
└── wlp8s0 -> ../../devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:1c.0/0000:08:00.0/net/wlp8s0

ip command

To obtain the device name and verify that the wireless card is detected, execute the following ip command:

user $ip addr
3: wlan0:   ...

ifconfig command

The ifconfig command is provided through the sys-apps/net-tools package. Use ifconfig -a to list all detected network cards, even those that are not enabled/active yet:

user $ifconfig -a
wlan0     ...

A network card can be activated as follows:

root #ifconfig -v wlan0 up
SIOCSIFFLAGS: Operation not possible due to RF-kill
WARNING: at least one error occurred. (-1)

In this example, enabling the wireless card failed as a radio frequency kill state is set (usually to keep power consumption at bay and not connect by accident to a wireless network).

iw command

If the wireless network card driver supports the nl80211 stack, then the iw command as offered by the net-wireless/iw package can show the detected wireless cards:

root #iw dev
   phy#0
	Interface wlan0
		ifindex 4
		type managed

modprobe and modinfo

modprobe should return nothing:

root #modprobe iwlwifi

Most information about the driver module can be obtained by modinfo iwlwifi

user $modinfo iwlwifi

lspci

lspci should display iwlwifi for both Kernel driver in use: and Kernel modules:.

root #lspci -nnkv
03:00.0 Network controller [0280]: Intel Corporation Centrino Advanced-N 6205 [Taylor Peak] [8086:0082] (rev 34)
        Subsystem: Intel Corporation Centrino Advanced-N 6205 AGN [8086:1321]
        Flags: bus master, fast devsel, latency 0, IRQ 33
        Memory at f7d00000 (64-bit, non-prefetchable) [size=8K]
        Capabilities: [c8] Power Management version 3
        Capabilities: [d0] MSI: Enable+ Count=1/1 Maskable- 64bit+
        Capabilities: [e0] Express Endpoint, MSI 00
        Capabilities: [100] Advanced Error Reporting
        Capabilities: [140] Device Serial Number confidential
        Kernel driver in use: iwlwifi
        Kernel modules: iwlwifi

The xx:xx.x identifier will be useful for grepping specific information from dmesg.

dmesg

Check the output of dmesg. Replace 03:00.0 with the identifier from lspci and wlp with the network interface name.

user $dmesg | grep -i -E '03:00.0|wlp|iwl|80211'
[    1.200902] pci 0000:03:00.0: [8086:0082] type 00 class 0x028000
[    1.201065] pci 0000:03:00.0: reg 0x10: [mem 0xf7d00000-0xf7d01fff 64bit]
[    1.201776] pci 0000:03:00.0: PME# supported from D0 D3hot D3cold
[    1.201999] pci 0000:03:00.0: System wakeup disabled by ACPI
[   18.260461] iwlwifi 0000:03:00.0: enabling device (0100 -> 0102)
[   18.260598] iwlwifi 0000:03:00.0: can't disable ASPM; OS doesn't have ASPM control
[   18.419884] iwlwifi 0000:03:00.0: loaded firmware version 18.168.6.1 op_mode iwldvm
[   18.671329] iwlwifi 0000:03:00.0: CONFIG_IWLWIFI_DEBUG enabled
[   18.671330] iwlwifi 0000:03:00.0: CONFIG_IWLWIFI_DEBUGFS enabled
[   18.671330] iwlwifi 0000:03:00.0: CONFIG_IWLWIFI_DEVICE_TRACING disabled
[   18.671332] iwlwifi 0000:03:00.0: Detected Intel(R) Centrino(R) Advanced-N 6205 AGN, REV=0xB0
[   18.673421] iwlwifi 0000:03:00.0: L1 Enabled - LTR Disabled
[   18.705882] ieee80211 phy0: Selected rate control algorithm 'iwl-agn-rs'
[   18.706468] iwlwifi 0000:03:00.0 wlp3s0: renamed from wlan0
[   23.286871] IPv6: ADDRCONF(NETDEV_UP): wlp3s0: link is not ready
    ......... snip .........
[   48.176954] IPv6: ADDRCONF(NETDEV_UP): wlp3s0: link is not ready
[   92.720710] wlp3s0: authenticate with my WLAN AP
[   92.724440] wlp3s0: send auth to my WLAN AP (try 1/3)
[   92.728436] wlp3s0: authenticated
[   92.728646] wlp3s0: waiting for beacon from my WLAN AP
[   92.821389] wlp3s0: associate with my WLAN AP (try 1/3)
[   92.828148] wlp3s0: RX AssocResp from my WLAN AP (capab=0x431 status=0 aid=4)
[   92.853124] wlp3s0: associated
[   92.853173] IPv6: ADDRCONF(NETDEV_CHANGE): wlp3s0: link becomes ready

Troubleshooting

Kernel not loaded

Check if the correct kernel is loaded. This can be accomplished as follows (depends on the IKCONFIG feature):

user $zgrep CONFIG_IWL /proc/config.gz

Firmware issues

  • For systems using udev or systemd, it is imperative to configure the kernel to load binary blobs. In this case the wireless card's firmware is the firmware that needs loaded. More information on configuring the kernel in this manner can be found in the following thread on the Gentoo forums: FW_LOADER_USER_HELPER_FALLBACK.

Wireless not working

See also

External resources