Ubuntu 18.04 – No WiFi adapter found

Skip to the final bit for the answer when you are in dire need of Internet on your new Ubuntu 18.04 installation.

One of the latest trends in the laptop world is: thin laptops. I have to agree it looks good, and a light laptop is also nice when you have to take it to work every day. When designing a thin laptop compromises are made, one of them is the UTP port. My laptop doesn’t have any. Normally this is not a problem. However, when installing the latest Ubuntu 18.04 version I had an issue with the WiFi driver.

I booted the live USB (no dvd slot in my laptop either) and I noticed that I didn’t have any network connectivity. I found out that my laptop (A Dell XPS of 2015) has a “Broadcom Limited BCM4352 802.11ac Wireless Network Adapter (rev 03)” nework adapter. This is not supported directly by Linux, you have to install a driver (bcmwl-kernel-source). While in the live USB session I simply installed the driver with:

sudo apt-get install bcmwl-kernel-source

And behold, INTERNET!

Now I decided to go ahead and install the OS, I opted for the option to install third party drivers for WiFi etc. Imagine my surprise when booting for the first time, no internet.

Tried again to install the driver, but apt-get needs the internet……

So I had a laptop without any network connection and the need for it to install the driver for the network connection.

After some swearing, I did some googling and found answers like, you can install it manually by downloading the packages etc. But this means you need to download all the dependencies as well. Believe me, it is a pain to try.

Now, I knew that the USB contained the driver and its dependencies (just installed them a minute ago). After some further looking on the internet I saw some solutions that worked for older versions by installing all the dependencies from the USB. I got stuck with configuring the DKMS package. Then I saw a post that uses an USB as a local repository for apt-get. That solved my problem and allowed me to type this rant in wordpress.

End of my rant:
I got my network connection by adding the following to the sources.list and installing the driver just like I did in the USB boot session:

sudo vi /etc/apt/sources.list
deb file:/media/<your comps name goes here>/Ubuntu 18.04 <Ubuntu version like bionic> main restricted
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install bcmwl-kernel-source


Now, note three things:

The space in the path name to the usb drive. I used Rufus on a windows machine to create the bootable USB drive and for some stupid reason I got a stupid space in the name of the USB.

The second is that I added main and restricted, you need this because the actual driver is in the restriced directory of the USB repository.

Finally I commented out all the other repositories in the sources.list. They won’t work without an internet connection anyway. Don’t forget to turn them back on once you are done!