Not so far ago, I had an issue with my Dell Inspiron 15 Series 3000 Laptop that I couldn't connect to any WiFi network using the built-in wireless card and had to use a USB WiFi dongle. Turns out that Dell Inspiron 15 has a Broadcom series of PCI wireless cards on board.
I was running Ubuntu 16.04 LTS at that time — I upgraded to 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver), the tips in this post would still work — and it didn't support my WiFi card out of the box, I was almost certain it would be a driver issue even though I did some online search to get help but was guided by wrong directions by some of the online forums stating solutions like upgrading BIOS firmware, some Windows-related drivers updates and also some BIOS tweaks that worked for some people (probably they are not using Linux).
Ubuntu forums to the rescue
I was finally able to install the drivers for the Broadcom wireless card on my laptop after coming across this thread on the Ubuntu forums.
It pointed me to this thread: “Before posting in Networking & Wireless” where I found a complete Broadcom guide in this thread: “How to install a driver for the Broadcom series of PCI wireless cards”.
It even had this extensive list for different drivers (Thanks to Ubuntu member: chili555):
pci.id 12.04 LTS 14.04 LTS and Later 14e4:0576 Special case #1 Special case #1 14e4:4301 firmware-b43legacy-installer firmware-b43legacy-installer 14e4:4306 firmware-b43legacy-installer firmware-b43legacy-installer 14e4:4306 rev 2 firmware-b43legacy-installer firmware-b43legacy-installer 14e4:4306 rev 3 firmware-b43-installer firmware-b43-installer 14e4:4307 firmware-b43-installer firmware-b43-installer 14e4:4311 firmware-b43-installer firmware-b43-installer 14e4:4312 firmware-b43-installer firmware-b43-installer 14e4:4313 firmware-b43-installer firmware-b43-installer 14e4:4315 firmware-b43-lpphy-installer firmware-b43-installer 14e4:4318 firmware-b43-installer firmware-b43-installer 14e4:4319 firmware-b43-installer firmware-b43-installer 14e4:4320 rev 02 firmware-b43legacy-installer firmware-b43legacy-installer 14e4:4320 rev 03 firmware-b43-installer firmware-b43-installer 14e4:4324 firmware-b43-installer firmware-b43-installer 14e4:4325 firmware-b43legacy-installer firmware-b43legacy-installer 14e4:4328 bcmwl-kernel-source firmware-b43-installer 14e4:4329 bcmwl-kernel-source bcmwl-kernel-source 14e4:432a bcmwl-kernel-source bcmwl-kernel-source 14e4:432b bcmwl-kernel-source bcmwl-kernel-source 14e4:432c bcmwl-kernel-source bcmwl-kernel-source 14e4:432d bcmwl-kernel-source bcmwl-kernel-source 14e4:4331 firmware-b43-installer firmware-b43-installer 14e4:4353 Special case #1 Special case #1 14e4:4357 Special case #1 Special case #1 14e4:4358 bcmwl-kernel-source bcmwl-kernel-source 14e4:4359 bcmwl-kernel-source bcmwl-kernel-source 14e4:4365 Special case #2 bcmwl-kernel-source 14e4:43a0 unknown bcmwl-kernel-source 14e4:43b1 unknown bcmwl-kernel-source 14e4:4727 Special case #3 Special case #1
I followed the instructions for retrieving the pci.id for the WiFi card by running the following command in the terminal:
lspci -nn -d 14e4:
It should return a line similar to this one:
06:00.0 Network controller : Broadcom Inc. and subsidiaries BCM43142 802.11b/g/n [14e4:4365] (rev 01)
That's the Broadcom wireless card installed in my Dell Inspiron 15 Series 3000 (3543) with pci.id:
14e4:4365 and by searching the pci.id list above I found the required package:
This is basically a Broadcom 802.11 Linux STA wireless driver DKMS package, more details on DKMS can be found in the additional resource section below.
At this step I updated my packages, I suggest you do it if you have not already done so recently,
sudo apt-get update
I installed the driver by running the following
sudo apt-get install bcmwl-kernel-source
You should replace
bcmwl-kernel-source with the correct package name equivalent to your pci.id depending on your exact model.
Finally, you must reboot for the newly installed kernel to take effect.
That's it, you should have WiFi enabled using the Broadcom chip on board.
Additional resources if you are a curious one
- Ubuntu: Broadcom 802.11 Linux STA wireless driver source
- Broadcom: Linux STA Drivers
- Dynamic Kernel Module Support (DKMS) package
- More information about DKMS
DKMS (Dynamic Kernel Module Support) is a system for automatically installing and rebuilding kernel modules that are maintained outside of the kernel tree to ensure that if a new kernel is installed that changes the ABI (Application Binary Interface), existing DKMS-managed modules are automatically built on the local PC against the new kernel's headers - saving the user from needing to manually rebuild the source or download an updated debian binary package.
Please feel free to ask if you have questions either in the comments section below or on my twitter.