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Thread: HOW-TO: the Wicd solution to the RT2500 slow connection problem

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    Thumbs down HOW-TO: the Wicd solution to the RT2500 slow / unstable connection problem

    Hi all,

    Let me start with a short description of the extremely slow speed and timeouts problem I was facing with my Ralink RT2500 based (integrated laptop) wireless card. After that, I will describe my solution step by step. And although all went smooth for me, I will follow with a short list of possible issues you might encounter and finish with how to revert to your old setup.

    NOTE: This is a hands-on, DIY solution that I have tested only for a short period (impatiently wanting to share it ) so please let me know if I can expect to run into any problems. And if there is another/better way, which I have not found, to solve the issue.
    This method has been tested on Ubuntu 9.04, Xubuntu 9.04 and Ubuntulite 0.8 (thanks to hellion0).

    REQUEST: I am a (X)Ubuntu user but I hope this works for Kubuntu too. If you find there should be some changes to make it work on these or other distros, please let me know and I will incorporate them.
    Thanks!



    Problem

    I have a laptop with integrated Ralink wireless card using --like many others-- the RT2500 chipset. Since my upgrade to Jaunty, I found that my connection speed was always extremely slow. Webpages would trickle load for several minutes if not just time out, and any streaming media impossible to listen/watch because after each two seconds the stream would stall and hang for more than a few seconds. Even the admin page of my router would be subject to this tiresome slowness. Another oddity was the fact that signal strenght was always shown at much lower level than should be.

    All this would no longer be the case as soon as I reconnected to my trusty old LAN cable again. (Sadly, since lightning struck our telephone wire, my LAN card is toasted. Now I really HAD to find a solution!)

    I had originally installed Wicd because I like it much and it saved me from problems with the same RT2500 card a long time ago (under Feisty, I think) but I decided to try Network Manager again. Sadly, the problem persisted. However I learned from the connection information that Network Manager gave me that the connection speed (rate) was fixed at 1Mb instead of anything nearer the max 54Mb if my WLAN router.

    Searching these forums I notice I am not the only one with this problem. A quick fix was presented in one thread in the form of entering the following in a terminal window, where the 11M stands for a connection speed (rate) of 11Mb/s:
    Code:
    sudo iwconfig wlan0 rate 11M
    I tried this and immediately my reported connection speed jumped up to 11Mb, signal strenght was reported at a more convincing level and more importantly: actual surfing and streaming was back at comfortable speed ! Hurray

    But then I realized that I would have to do this after each boot/login. Not very convenient, so I searched further and found another thread where the fix was combined with hard coding it into another, unrelated (anacron) boot script so that this would be automatically done during each boot-up. An excellent solution but not very elegant, I thought, considering it could be overwritten during an upgrade or what not.

    Then it hit me: Trusty old Wicd! Did I not notice an option to set up scripts to run on pre-, post- and disconnection? Oooh, my preciousssssss... come back to me!


    Solution

    This step-by-step should be fairly simple, but if anything is unclear, please ask and I will edit if necessary.

    Prerequisites
    - You should be logged in as user that is in the sudoers list, meaning you have administrative rights (but are not root) so you can install packages.
    - If you already have Wicd on your system you can skip to Part II of the process.


    Part I: "Get Wicd with it!"

    1. Add the Wicd repository to your sources list.

    NOTE: This is OPTIONAL but ADVISED for pre-Karmic users. If you feel more comfortable with sticking to official Ubuntu packages, you can skip this step but there is a somewhat outdated version of Wicd in the official Ubuntu repositories. At the time of writing this how-to (Juli 15, 2009) this is version 1.5.9 and although, it works just fine it will only allow you set up a connection specific speed-up script but no global pre-connection speed-up script. The latter is useful for those that use their wireless for roaming (see part II). Karmic repos carry version 1.6.1, which is better, but to get the latest stable version with more options (and improved performance if you select ioctl backend under Preferences > Advanced Settings -- I highly recommend it ) continue with this step. At the time of writing the latest stable version is up to 1.6.2.

    Open Synaptic Package Manager and go to Settings > Repositories > Third Party Software > Add..., and enter the following line:
    Code:
    deb http://apt.wicd.net jaunty extras
    Open a terminal window and enter the following line:
    Code:
    wget -q http://apt.wicd.net/wicd.gpg -O- | sudo apt-key add -
    Close the Package Sources dialog window and hit 'Refresh' in Synaptic Package Manager or do in terminal:
    Code:
    sudo apt-get update
    ALTERNATIVE: Download the deb package of the latest stable version from http://downloads.wicd.net/pkgs/stable/ (browse through to the latest version, choose xUbuntu folder - small x meaning any Ubuntu derivative not just Xubuntu!) and install it by double clicking the downloaded file.

    2. Get the default Network Manager packages stored locally.

    NOTE: This is OPTIONAL but ADVISED if you are solely dependent on wireless for your Internet connection! You are also advised to note down the instructions on Reverting to Network Manager at the bottom... Without it, you will not have deb packages of Network Manager to fall back on, in case Wicd does not play for you. If you can easily connect via your LAN (an Ethernet card and that gray cable, remember? ) you can skip this step.

    For Ubuntu/Xubuntu users, Network Manager + the Gnome Front-end:
    Code:
    sudo apt-get install -d --reinstall network-manager gnome-network-manager
    For Kubuntu users, Network Manager + the KDE Front-end:
    Code:
    sudo apt-get install -d --reinstall network-manager network-manager-kde

    3. Install Wicd (Wireless Internet Connection Daemon, read more on http://wicd.net/) the easy "Ubuntu way". You can find it in Synaptic or just do in terminal:
    Code:
    sudo apt-get install wicd
    This will force Network Manager to be removed from you system.

    NOTE: After Network Manager being removed, you will get an error message from the running NM Front-end about missing resources and it will close. Just move to the next step and all will be fine again.

    4. Reboot your system and use Wicd to connect to your wifi signal.

    Open the Wicd Manager by double cliking the system tray icon. If you have no Wicd systray applet/icon, open the Wicd Network Manager from the your Application Menu or give the command wicd-client (use the -n switch if you are running a desktop without notification area) in terminal. Set your WPA or other encryption options under 'Advanced Settings' (1.5.9) or 'Properties' (1.6.x), right below the signal entry (in version 1.5.9 you need to unfold the entry pane by clicking the connection title). You can check 'Automatically connect to this network' if you like too.


    Now that you have Wicd up and running and your connection is active -- although still painfully slow -- we can move to the actual fix...


    Part II: "Speed it up!"

    5. Add the speed-up script

    The actual script we will be using below is
    Code:
    sh -c "/sbin/iwconfig wlan0 rate 11M"
    NOTE 1: The last part of the speed-up script '11M' will force the connection speed to jump to 11Mb/s which is is just fine for me since it gives me a very stable connection (as opposed to the full 54MB which is also possible with my Wifi router) and my provider limits my bandwidth to 2Mb anyway. But if you absolutely need more speed, just experiment and pump it up to e.g. 36MB or 54MB if you like.

    NOTE 2: If your wireless card is not set up to be available on wlan0 but for example on eth1, wmaster0 (thanks acutshall1) or ra0 (thanks hellion0), adapt the script accordingly.


    Now you have two options here. If you use your wireless to connect to the same few wifi signals (or just one home signal) all the time, you can follow only the easy part 5. Home/Office but if you use your wireless for a large part for roaming (connecting to new signals often) you might want to (also) follow part 5. Roaming.

    5. Home/Office.

    I. Open Wicd Network Manager by clicking on the tray icon or via your Network menu. Then click Scripts (1.5.9, unfold the entry pane by clicking the connection title) or Properties > Scripts (1.6.x) right below your active connection and enter your user password. The Configure Scripts dialog comes up.

    II. Now enter in the script (above) in the Pre-connection Script field.

    III. Hit OK to save.

    Do this again for any secondary signal you normally connect to like your Office or the public wifi at you regular lunch place Depending on signal strength and connection stability, you can experiment with higher speeds for each signal.

    NOTE: You might run into a little bug in Wicd after entering your password. If so, you will get a system warning about Wicd Manager not responding anymore. Ignore it and just hit Cancel to continue. The Scripts dialog window might be hidden behind the Wicd Manager window!

    5. Roaming.

    If you use your laptop for roaming and connect to new signals on a regular basis, you might want to make the speed-up script available for each new connection. After that, you can still use the Home/Office method if you want to tweak your regular wifi signals.

    I. Create a new file by opening a terminal window and entering the command
    Code:
    sudo gedit /etc/wicd/scripts/preconnect/rt2500fix
    NOTE: Adapt this to use kate for Kubuntu/KDE or mousepad for Xubuntu/XFCE instead of gedit.
    This will bring up the text editor with a blank file.

    II. Now enter the script (above) as the only (!) content.

    III. Hit 'Save' and close the editor.

    IV. Finally in terminal enter
    Code:
    sudo chmod a+x /etc/wicd/scripts/preconnect/rt2500fix

    6. Disconnect and reconnect to make the script run and go and visit your favorite download or streaming website!

    You should immediately notice you are back to browsing at normal speed... If not, read on.


    Possible issues & Tips

    TIP: faster connection time
    For better performance in establishing a connection, get the latest stable version (read step 1.a) and select ioctl backend under Preferences > Advanced Settings.

    I am unable to connect
    If you cannot get Wicd to connect to any wifi signal, you might want to:
    1. Check the content of /etc/network/interfaces. It should be nearly empty, only containing:
    auto lo
    iface lo inet loopback
    If it doesn't, edit the file (and make a backup copy) with
    Code:
    gksudo gedit /etc/network/interfaces
    (for Gnome, so adapt this command for your distro specifics: use mousepad in xubuntu, kate on Kubuntu instead of gedit)
    2. Make sure Wicd is set up to manage the correct wireless interface. Open the Wicd Manager and hit 'Preferences'. Check if the field 'Wireless Interface:' shows the correct interface. Normally this would be wlan0 but on your system it might be set up differently like eth1, wmaster0 (thanks acutshall1) or ra0(thanks hellion0) for example .

    There is no Wicd tray icon after login
    Open Startup Applications (under System > Preferences menu, in Gnome at least) and see if there is an entry for Wicd. If so, make sure there is a check mark beside it or if the content is correct. If not, add a new entry with Name: Wicd and Command: wicd-client, then save and logout and back in again. If that does not do the trick, head over to the Wicd forum to get expert help on manually getting the systray applet up and running.

    I can connect but still at turtle slow speed
    First reboot the system and reconfirm. Then you might want to check if the script should be altered in any way to fit your system. Open the Wicd Manager and hit 'Preferences'. The field 'Wireless Interface:' shows your current (and apparently working) interface. Normally this would be wlan0 but if it is anything else like eth1 or ra0 (thanks hellion0) for example, please copy the content of the field and use that to replace the wlan0 part of the script.
    If that still does not work, use the original code sudo iwconfig wlan0 rate 11M (or adapted code to fit your system) in a terminal screen to find any errors. Report them in this forum thread...

    All works well but signal strength is still not shown correctly
    Place a check mark at the option 'Use dBm for displaying signal strength' under 'Preferences' (1.5.9) or 'Preferences Advanced Settings' (1.6.x) in the Wicd Manager.

    I can connect to any open signal and speed fix works but cannot connect to encrypted signal
    I found the only setting for WPA Supplicant-driver under Preferences in the Wicd Manager that works on my system is wext but you might try other options (like the ralink legacy driver) to see if that fixes the issue. Please head over to the Wicd forum on http://wicd.sourceforge.net/punbb/ for expert help.

    I get a system message: The window "Wicd Manager" does not respond
    You might run into a little bug in Wicd, where after clicking the Scripts button, you get a warning like "The window Wicd Manager is unresponsive" with the options Cancel and Force close. Just choose Cancel to continue and ignore this warning.
    NOTE: The Scripts dialog window might be hidden behind the Wicd Manager window!


    Reverting to Network Manager

    Wicd did not play for you? No problem. Just reinstall the Network Manager packages and your system is back to where you were before and search on for your slow connection problem.

    For Ubuntu/Xubuntu users, Network Manager + the Gnome Front-end:
    Code:
    sudo apt-get install network-manager gnome-network-manager
    For Kubuntu users, Network Manager + the KDE Front-end:
    Code:
    sudo apt-get install network-manager network-manager-kde

    There is a good alternative method suggested by olejon involving ndiswrapper in this thread. Other ways to get around the slow connection issue can be found on these forums. Try http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1148109 or http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1251983 for instance.
    Last edited by RavanH; November 30th, 2009 at 02:12 AM. Reason: Update VII

  2. #2
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    Re: HOW-TO: the Wicd solution to the RT2500 slow / unstable connection problem

    Thanks for that! Suddenly my Thinkpad is usable again thanks to this fix. You can add U-Lite to the systems it's known to work on.

    Quick note: On my system (installed as Feisty and upgraded since all the way to Jaunty), the interface is ra0 instead of wlan0. This may be common for more upgraded systems, so there's one to look for if you're not sure.

    I've also posted a link to this How-To on my blog.
    Last edited by hellion0; July 13th, 2009 at 05:32 PM.
    Desktop: Custom - AMD Athlon X4 Quadcore 4.02GHz, 8GB DDR3, 750GB HDD, 500GB HDD, Win7 x64/Ubuntu 14.04 x64
    Laptop: Thinkpad T61 - Intel Core 2 Duo 2.00GHz, 4GB DDR2, 500GB HDD, Win7 x86/Ubuntu 14.04 x86

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    Re: HOW-TO: the Wicd solution to the RT2500 slow / unstable connection problem

    Quote Originally Posted by hellion0 View Post
    Thanks for that! Suddenly my Thinkpad is usable again thanks to this fix. You can add U-Lite to the systems it's known to work on.

    Quick note: On my system (installed as Feisty and upgraded since all the way to Jaunty), the interface is ra0 instead of wlan0. This may be common for more upgraded systems, so there's one to look for if you're not sure.

    I've also posted a link to this How-To on my blog.
    Glad it worked out Thanks for the tip on ra0, i'll edit it in...

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    Re: HOW-TO: the Wicd solution to the RT2500 slow / unstable connection problem

    worked great for me too, thank you so much!

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    Re: HOW-TO: the Wicd solution to the RT2500 slow connection problem

    Thanks, I needed this solution because I did not like to play around with the other boot up script.
    This solution is just fine to me.

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    Re: HOW-TO: the Wicd solution to the RT2500 slow connection problem

    Ravan, found your thread via...
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1148109

    Thanks for the wicd solution. Moment of panic when it spit out an error message about missing something after install, but everything was working after the reboot (running Ubuntu Jaunty). An elegant solution, I even like the tray icon, cheers.

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    Re: HOW-TO: the Wicd solution to the RT2500 slow connection problem

    Quote Originally Posted by hhh View Post
    Ravan, found your thread via...
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1148109

    Thanks for the wicd solution. Moment of panic when it spit out an error message about missing something after install, but everything was working after the reboot (running Ubuntu Jaunty). An elegant solution, I even like the tray icon, cheers.
    Glad it worked out for you too.

    Do you remember what that message was? When did it happen: you started Wicd after install and got the error but after reboot, that error no longer happened? I will try and reproduce this with a fresh install of Jaunty if I have the time.

    Just a TIP: read about the latest version on http://wicd.net/punbb/viewtopic.php?id=595 (why it is not in the Ubuntu repo's yet and more importantly where to get it )

    The current version in the Ubuntu repo is 1.5.9 but a greatly improved version 1.6.2 is out since the beginning of July. It responds much faster than older versions when you select the IOCTL backend under Prefs > Advanced Settings.

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    Re: HOW-TO: the Wicd solution to the RT2500 slow connection problem

    Quote Originally Posted by RavanH View Post
    Glad it worked out for you too.

    Do you remember what that message was? When did it happen: you started Wicd after install and got the error but after reboot, that error no longer happened?
    I was running Network Manager as I installed Wicd, so the message I'm sure was just Wicd protesting that it wasn't ready to make a connection yet (immediately after install, before the first reboot - Wicd started automatically after install if I'm remembering right). Crap, I can't remember what it was missing exactly, something it needed to establish a connection, not a dependency, a missing service? Module? A reboot is necessary anyway after install and that sorted it, so I wouldn't worry about it.

    When you say the new version responds quicker, do you mean you get a faster connection speed or that the connection gets established quicker? Also, I installed via your second method, apt-get. What's the best way to upgrade?

    I'm busy now but I'll post my driver info to the workaround sticky and quote your solution from earlier in that thread.

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    Re: HOW-TO: the Wicd solution to the RT2500 slow connection problem

    Quote Originally Posted by hhh View Post
    I was running Network Manager as I installed Wicd, so the message I'm sure was just Wicd protesting that it wasn't ready to make a connection yet (immediately after install, before the first reboot - Wicd started automatically after install if I'm remembering right). Crap, I can't remember what it was missing exactly, something it needed to establish a connection, not a dependency, a missing service? Module? A reboot is necessary anyway after install and that sorted it, so I wouldn't worry about it.

    When you say the new version responds quicker, do you mean you get a faster connection speed or that the connection gets established quicker? Also, I installed via your second method, apt-get. What's the best way to upgrade?

    I'm busy now but I'll post my driver info to the workaround sticky and quote your solution from earlier in that thread.
    Right, that reboot is defenately needed to get rid of the last residues of NM and for Wicd to come up. I will put some more emphasis on it in the how-to.

    When I say that latest version is faster (at least in my experience) I mean it establishes a wifi connection much faster, just after login or if a connection is dropped. Before I would sometimes get a response from my IM client that autostarts on login that there'd be no network available (IMpatient little client ) but now Wicd has got the connection up even before any tray icon has loaded so I-M happy now...

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    Re: HOW-TO: the Wicd solution to the RT2500 slow connection problem

    Quote Originally Posted by hhh View Post
    ...Also, I installed via your second method, apt-get. What's the best way to upgrade?...
    Just follow the link in the other installation method, browse through to the latest version and choose your Linux variant (xUbuntu in your case, where small x stands for any flavour of Ubuntu), download and open the deb package ( double-click it from your desktop for example) and that version will be installed over the older one. You can still always revert or remove it via apt-get or the Synaptic packages manager. If a newer version becomes available in the official repo's, it will upgrade automatically together with other packages through the Update Manager.

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