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Free Operating Systems That Work with USB wifi Adapters

pcwizz1
pcwizz1 asked
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Last Modified: 2014-01-24
A small company upgraded their office computers and donated 4 of them to our church. They have been formatted. I would like to set up the computers with some free OS where a wifi usb adapter can be installed and configured with a minimum of problems. I can then give them to some families who have no computer but have wifi in there home.

I have tried using Ubuntu and could never get the adapters I have to work. I'm not very familiar with Linux flavors so I have given up on these OS's

The adapters I bought from Amazon are inexpensive as I have limited resources to apply to this project:

Etekcity® 5R2 Mini Wireless WiFi LAN USB Network Adapter: This device is a High Power Dongle with 802.11 B/G/N signals, 150 Mbps transmission rate, 2.

Edimax EW-7811Un 150 Mbps Wireless 11n Nano Size USB Adapter


Basically I just want the workstations to be able to access the internet with the adapters. Anything else would be a bonus...

Is my request unreasonable?

Thank you all in advance for your assistance.
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Commented:
I wouldn't recommend centos, especially 6.5. 6.5 was just released so there are bound to be compatibility issues. Plus it is designed as a server platform rather than desktop. Not to say it isn't a great os and could be used, I work on it daily, but it is not designed with desktops in mind.

Ubuntu, Mint,  KUbuntu, all good choices. Opensuse is good to.
Gerwin JansenTopic Advisor
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Most Valuable Expert 2016

Commented:
Are you able to burn images to a re-writable CD? If so, I'd recommend to download so-called live images and burn them to CD so you can test from a re-writable if it works.

You could start with lubuntu for example (light weight Ubuntu), it runs nicely on (somewhat) old hardware: http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/lubuntu/releases/13.10/release/lubuntu-13.10-desktop-i386.iso

Other recommendation is Fedora LXDE: http://spins.fedoraproject.org/lxde/#downloads

Both start with a menu that lets you choose a live (test) version.
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Commented:
CentOS is an excellent desktop.

It's based on RedHat source, which can also be used as server or desktop configurations.

And best of all, its desktop's default GUI is GNOME 2, unlike most other new releases of linux distros, which default to the not-ready-for-prime-time-when-released GNOME 3 (or Unity in Ubuntu, which is also based on GNOME 3).
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Based on reports of problems with 14e4:43xx cards (for which Broadcom never released linux drivers) CentOS 6.5 is based on fedora 14, which is when those same problems appeared in fedora.

While CentOS 6.x doesn't officially support Chrome, they do support the open source Chromium (Chrome is NOT open source, which is the main reason they don't, and probably never will, support it)... here are test ports of Chromium 30 and 31:
http://people.redhat.com/tpopela/rpms/
and I expect to see v32 in the repos once there's enough feedback on those test versions.
Top Expert 2015

Commented:
Most notably you must download firmwares for those network adapters (via floppynet or ethernet, at no indication on the system what is missing)

So download edimax zip driver
look around to see it is
RTL8192CU which is supported by mainline kernel
so delete .zip file, boot ubuntu live CD and connect to your access point...
Top Expert 2015

Commented:
STA driver released by broadcom supports all of same cards supported by b43 drive (those pesky :43xx in each laptop)....
ubuntu proprietary driver enabler told me so.
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