Monday, June 7, 2010

Wifi on the Panasonic Let's Note S9

A quick update on my new computer. It had a few problems when running the latest Ubuntu. One of them was that Intel had yet to release the firmware you need to use the wireless card in it; this was a problem for some recent Lenovo machines like the X201 as well. Well, they've released it now.

I'm sure it'll show up in an update sooner rather than later. If you don't want to wait, installing it is as easy as downloading the package (it's the "iwlwifi-6050" one), and copy the microcode file iwlwifi-6050-4.ucode to /lib/firmware/ so the system can find it. I copied the file, turned on wireless, and Ubuntu just picked it right up; I didn't even have to reboot.

Note that it's only the Wifi portion that's been released; while the card in this machine supports Wimax as well, there's no firmware available for that yet. While I would like to have everything working on my machine of course, I can't say I'm bothered by the lack. Wimax is not a replacement for Wifi, but is all about paid mobile broadband services; it competes with wired internet service and data access through mobile phone networks. It's still an immature technology, and we have a decent wired connection at home as well as all-I-can-eat mobile data access through my phone, so I have no interest in paying for such a service now or in the near future.

That's one problem down, with two to go. There's a graphics bug that is affecting a fair number of users so there'll likely be a fix in the not too distant future. The lack of brightness control is specific to the Let's Note series and not nearly as high profile (not too many people running Ubuntu on this newly released, Japan only, machine). But it isn't critical - it mostly just shortens your battery life - and will no doubt be fixed at some point as well.

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