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I have a Dell Latitude e360 laptop (64-bit arch) that previously had 32-bit Windows 7 on it. Wireless worked beautifully on it. It has a slide button on the right side for manually turning the wireless card on/off.

Several months ago, I gutted the OS and switched this over to a 64-bit Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pangolin) system. When I did this, my physical workstation had changed such that I no longer really needed wireless - instead I was at a desk and always had a wired connection.

I'm now back to working from home and this morning tried using wireless for the first time in months. I have other laptops (also Ubuntus) that see my wireless router and home LAN no problem. But this machine doesn't show any wireless networks. In fact when I go to Network Connections, the Wireless tab is disabled altogether. So I looked down and noticed that the blue "wireless LED" was not on. I slid the wireless button to both the on and off positions several times. Nothing.

The way I see it is that I either (somehow) busted my wireless card at some point in the last several months, and didn't notice it because I was always at a desk using a wired connection. Or, perhaps there's something at the system level that is preventing wireless from turning on? What's my next step here? Thanks in advance!

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Is the wireless still enabled in the BIOS? Most laptops can enable/disable it from there. That same setting is usually tied to the physical switch, but utilizing that part may be Windows OS-dependent, and thus not available with Linux.

You may want to look up the specs for your specific wireless card and see if there is a Linux driver for it. Possible that it wasn't automatically recognized during your OS install and just needs to be manually installed to work.

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Thanks @techturtle (+1) - I'll definitely try these suggestions by the end of the day and get back with a response. Thanks again! – pnongrata Jan 22 '13 at 20:12
I added an answer showing exactly how I fixed my problem, but am giving you the green check for pushing me in the right direction! Thanks again! – pnongrata Jan 22 '13 at 23:06

I fixed this myself:

sudo apt-get install bcmwl-kernel-source
sudo modprobe wl

Turns out the device driver for my wireless card was never installed.

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