Getting wireless WPA-PSK working under Ubuntu Linux on a Dell Inspiron with Netgear WG511

Netgear WG511 Wireless PC Card

Here are the instructions I followed to get my old 1GHz Dell Inspiron laptop with Netgear WG511 (v1, I presume) working on my home WPA network. Most of my experience was fruitless trial and error from directions in the Ubuntu forums, but I owe the bulk of thanks for useful help to tl3000 and chili555, in these two forum topics.

This page is a light editing of the posts that worked for me.

  1. Completely remove network manager with the Synaptic Package Manager
  2. Install NDISwrapper with the Synaptic Package Manager
  3. Disable the installed Prism54 modules:
    • sudo modprobe -r prism54pci
      sudo modprobe -r prism54common
      sudo gedit /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist

      …and append the following lines:

      blacklist prism54pci
      blacklist prism54common
  4. Get the WG511 Windows driver:
    • wget
      sudo apt-get install cabextract unshield
      cabextract WG511v300.exe
      cd Disk1
      unshield x
      cd Driver_xp_File_Group
  5. Wrap the driver and add to modules:
    • sudo ndiswrapper-1.9 -i netwg511.inf
      sudo modprobe ndiswrapper
      sudo ndiswrapper -m
      sudo gedit /etc/modules

      …and append the following line:

  6. Download and install WICD (“Wicd was started because of the lack of useful, functional wireless network connection managers in Linux.”) from
  7. Use WICD from the menu item in the Applications menu to configure for your wireless connection. The original posts mention that you might have to flip between wext and ndiswrapper drivers to get going, but I didn’t.
  8. If all else fails, restart the PC

11 thoughts on “Getting wireless WPA-PSK working under Ubuntu Linux on a Dell Inspiron with Netgear WG511”

  1. Followed this but used the win2k drivers for mine =D
    had to do step 7! but other than that.. perfect… cant thank you enough!!! spent 3 days on this and got close but just couldnt close !
    cheers mate

  2. Great! I’m very glad someone else found this useful.

    Our little laptop is still going strong on wireless & Ubuntu, but the ‘o’ key is dead now so it’s not as portable now with a USB keyboard to lug around with it.

  3. I have an interesting observation.
    I have a Toshiba TE2300 laptop with a Netgear WG511 V1 card.
    I downloaded Ubuntu 7.10 live cd to test wireless.
    Guess what it worked with WPA-PSK! in the live environment.
    After installation WPA-PSK is no longer available…..
    Have you noticed this?
    Maybe put your live cd in and give it a go.

    I cant work out why it would change.

  4. Sheesh – I have no idea. It’s baffling that the live CD would be more compatible with the card than the install defaults.

    I would go back and take a look at the kernel modules with modprobe, and the /etc/modprobe.d/* stuff, and the wireless manager and try to figure out how to emulate that under the non-live CD environment as a start.

  5. Thanks so much, this was the last thing loosely keeping me “chained” to windows, it was stuck to a wire in one place, or windows for wireless.

    Thanks =)!

  6. I have a WG511 v1. That info was useful for setting up ndiswrapper.

    However I could not get it to work at first, until I changed the WPA passphrase on the access point to a compatible one: either 40 or 104 bits (13 characters exactly).

    Then with that passphrase in place I found that my card works with the Linux driver and wpa_supplicant (no Windows driver!)

  7. @bredelet: Not running the Windows driver sounds like very good news. Very strange about the passphrase, though.

  8. My card says “Made in Taiwan”, and there is no v2 on it. I think that Linux reports it as a Intersil chipset.
    If I put one character more or one character less in the passphrase, I get an error from the card. It needs to be exactly 13.

  9. The change in hardware is probably the key to the ability to run without a wrapped Windows driver. I think the cards that need to be wrapped are on a knife edge between being popular enough that people care how to get them running on modern linux, and unpopular and old enough that nobody can be bothered writing a real driver for them.

    The work-around for the key size is a real find. Do you mind if I promote your comment into an addendum on the main post so it’s available to anyone else who’s experiencing frustration with the same hardware configuration as you?

  10. OK. This is the hardware info for my card:
    pci.subsys_product = ‘WG511 Wireless Adapter’ pci.subsys_vendor = ‘Netgear’ info.product = ‘ISL3890 [Prism GT/Prism Duette]/ISL3886 [Prism Javelin/Prism Xbow]’ pci.product = ‘ISL3890 [Prism GT/Prism Duette]/ISL3886 [Prism Javelin/Prism Xbow]’ info.vendor = ‘Intersil Corporation’ pci.vendor = ‘Intersil Corporation’ pci.device_protocol = 0 (0x0) pci.device_subclass = 128 (0x80) pci.device_class = 2 (0x2) pci.subsys_vendor_id = 4997 (0x1385) pci.subsys_product_id = 18432 (0x4800) pci.vendor_id = 4704 (0x1260) pci.product_id = 14480 (0x3890) info.linux.driver = ‘prism54pci’

    PS: thanks for suggesting WICD! I am happy with it.

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