Laptop WiFi+Bluetooth module for Linux
4 votes c/freepost Posted by zPlus — 4 votes, 2 commentsSource

I know that certain WiFi modules are recommended for Linux because they are supported by free drivers, for example the Atheros AR9382 and AR5B22 modules with the ath9k driver). But when they also have a Bluetooth chip, this usually requires a blob.

Does anybody know if there are WiFi+Bluetooth modules (the half-height MiniPCIe types for laptops) that work entirely with free drivers, for both the WiFi and the Bluetooth?

Found an old post on on the Atheros AR9462 AR5B22, and it seems they concluded that AR5B22 in it does not need any blobs?

Perhaps one needs to install the open source firmware for ath9k, as suggested in this thread.

If you have a spare usb port you could always get a usb adapter.

There’s also but I couldn’t really find anything there.

Btw, should one be worried about the performance of these cards? Most of them only support up to WiFi 4 (802.11n, often they write 802.11a/b/g/n), but both Wifi5 (ac) and Wifi6 (ax) is out with increased throughput..

Thank you a lot for the great reply and the links! The Trisquel forum didn’t come up in my results when searching, I don’t know why. But it gives me hope!

Talking about performance, I would say not yet. I’m sure WiFi 6 is better than 4 in many ways, but in my experience WiFi hardware is also full of marketing hyperbolas more than anything else. Choosing a router/AP means I could spend an entire day reading specifications, and still not understand exactly what I’m getting. For example the transfer speed in practice is always order of magnitudes less than the “theoretical maximum”, and reaching the max speed requires multiple antennas (4 or more) in addition to a very good signal strength. However most devices only have a couple of antennas; my laptop has one. Where I think WiFi 6 could make a difference for me is in crowded environments, as the new standards can handle concurrent devices much better. If a WiFi 5/6 card were available, that would also work with free drivers, I would take it over a WiFi 4 card. But I’m not personally too concerned about WiFi 4 (for now at least).