I thought I would post this information in Dell Ubuntu Support for others to see.
First, I have been running Ubuntu on this Laptop going on 4 years now. Some earlier releases of Ubuntu ran with no problems. I want to say it was around the the release of 10.04 that the issues with the wifi card came into play. But there is a work around.
If you are using a Broadcom BCM43xx card (I am using a 4311). Do the following:
After installing 10.xx, 11.xx, or 12.xx making sure you have a network cable plugged in.
1. Make sure you have dkms installed.
2. I uninstalled “bcmwl-kernel-source” package,
sudo apt-get install dkms
3. I installed “firmware-b43-installer” package
sudo apt-get remove bcmwl-kernel-source
4. I installed “b43-fwcutter” packager
sudo apt-get install firmware-b43-installer
5. I typed into the terminal:
sudo apt-get install b43-fwcutter
This was the output:
cat /etc/modprobe.d/* | egrep '8180|acx|at76|ath|b43|bcm|CX|eth|ipw|irmware|isl| lbtf|orinoco|ndiswrapper|NPE|p54|prism|rtl|rt2|rt3 |rt6|rt7|witch|wl'
You might have to restart the laptop at this point. Before restarting click on your network icon in the upper right corner of your desktop if you see wireless connections listed under wireless just select one and you should connect without restarting.
# which ath5k cannot recover. To prevent this condition, stop
# replaced by p54pci
# replaced by b43 and ssb.
I hope this will help others as it help me.