Surprisingly Easy Fix for Wireless

Saturday 1. August, 2009

The wireless of my notebook “broke” some time ago and I just couldn’t get it working neither in Windows 7 (RC) or in Linux. The problem was caused by hardware kill switch, according to Linux’ system logs. The kill switch near the keyboard was working correctly for the Bluetooth-circuits taking the radio on and off as I pressed the button on and off, but the wireless (Intel® PRO/Wireless 3945ABG) stayed offline regardless of the button’s state. Trying to Google solution revealed that many others had had similar problems, but their problem/solution seemed to be that they had been attempting to use software version of killing the wireless (Fn + F5) instead of a real button on their laptops. I only had a real button, no such key combination.

I let the computer be for couple of weeks completely ignoring the problem (“You don’t exists”-clause) until I thought of the notebook’s recovery disks. Could they possibly be used to recover from this problem? After some hours of copying the hard drive (ddrescue to the rescue!) to my other computer I inserted the recovery disk #1 in the cd drive and rebooted. I was presented with a choice to open menu for various recovery options, to erase everything and do full recovery or exit the recovery software. I chose the full recovery erasing everything and waited and waited…

Finally the Windows XP logon screen came up and I could log in. On the system tray there was a program, program called “HP Wireless Assistant” telling me that Bluetooth device was on and WLAN off. I was saddened by the fact that if was still not working, but then I right-clicked the program icon and saw a menu containing an item “Enable all devices”. I thought that it would probably not work after seeing Linux and Windows 7 saying the kill switch was preventing everything but for my surprise it actually enabled both Bluetooth (that was already on) and WLAN. WHOHOO! My WLAN was back!

“iwl3945: Radio disabled by HW RF Kill switch” was gone!

Now I wonder what set the kill switch in the first place…