wpa wireless on a IBM Thinkpad T43p (running Debian Etch)

So after writing about setting up the wireless on my desktop, I now have got it working on my laptop. All it needed was the wpasupplicant package and the ipw2200 network driver (and of course the ieee80211 network stack), though I installed all those ages ago, so cannot remember what was involved, but I think they are in a standard kernel.

It wasn’t all that hard to get encryption working, though it does appear that my patch to wpa_supplicant does change the way it was intended to work. I am not sure if it is a general wpa_supplicant change, or a Debian specific change, but to launch wpa_supplicant I am supposed to use the “wext” driver, instead of the ipw one which relates to my network card.

This was in the Debian readme for wpa_supplicant, but I did spend a while trying to use the ipw driver in wpa_supplicant before finding it. For completeness, I have 2 of my config files below (the only ones needed in fact)


iface eth1 inet dhcp
wireless-essid ant-wifi
wpa-driver wext
wpa-conf /etc/wpa_supplicant.conf



pairwise=CCMP TKIP
group=CCMP TKIP WEP104 WEP40

The next stage will be trying to get the WPA-EAP/LEAP working at work. That WILL be more challenging

About Anton Piatek

Professional bit herder, amateur photographer. Linux and tech geek
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8 Responses to wpa wireless on a IBM Thinkpad T43p (running Debian Etch)

  1. Vikas says:


    Thanks for the config for wpa-supplicant. However, could you get it working with LEAP?


  2. Anton says:

    I have had it working, however it is incredibly tempremental and only works when it wants. It used to be working, but now I can’t get it to work… It simply refuses to try any of the LEAP access points.

  3. Vikas says:

    Hey, Thanks for the reply.

    Could you paste the config for LEAP?
    I’ll try it out and see if I have any luck with it šŸ™‚


  4. Anton says:



    However it doesnt want to work at the moment. I had it working and then it stopped… not sure why.
    Also people have told me you can only have one “network” section per config file, but that is not true. the “priority=5” statement can be added and works fine for me (at least for several WPA networks)

  5. Andrey says:

    Hello, Anton!
    I tried to follow your advice on setting up the WPA-PSK on T43p. Unfortunatelly, I failed – I do not get the IP address from my router. To clarify some suspicions, I would like to know, which WLAN card has YOUR model of T43p?


  6. Anton says:

    lspci reports the card as
    04:02.0 Network controller: Intel Corporation PRO/Wireless 2915ABG Network Connection (rev 05)

  7. Antti says:

    ok, my laptop is t41, not t43 and has
    0000:02:02.0 Network controller: Intel Corporation PRO/Wireless LAN 2100 3B Mini PCI Adapter (rev 04)
    and for that the trick was the following -> first have /etc/wpa_supplicant.conf look like this:
    and then when starting wpa-supplicant trying with “wpi” driver was a mistake, instead wext driver did work e.g. I started it with
    wpa_supplicant -i eth1 -Dwext -c /etc/wpa_supplicant.conf -dd
    and yes, it did work ; still had to spawn dhclient to obtain a ipv4 addr but now I’m happily typing away.

    And this has ubuntu, not debian but might be close enough. Running 2.6.15-23-386.

  8. Anton says:

    Ubuntu and Debian are pretty similar. If you set up your network interfaces then you should be able to just “ifup eth1” and it will set up wpa_supplicant and dhclient for you

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