Sunday, November 04, 2007

Drivers matter

I have always complained about the poor quality of the WiFi interface in ThinkPad laptops. I like the good work of IBM and Lenovo about them, but WiFi simply stinks.

I always disable their tool to manage network connections as Windows software is more basic but works much better. What I cannot change is the drivers: I get disconnected a lot with poor quality APs (Belkin, US Robotics, ...) and once in a while with better ones (Linksys, for example -special mention of the WRT45GL, which is cheap and works best-).

The problem is not only the disconnection itself. Sometimes the interface drops and I have to repair it via Windows option for network connections. Some other times I have to use the Thinkpad menu to reactivate the wireless interface. And it also happens that I have to use the physical switch for wireless interfaces (including bluetooth) and switch it off and then on to make it work. It has also happenned to me that I had to reboot the computer.

This is not acceptable at all.

And then comes Linux to fix the situation. I have recently installed Ubuntu in 4 GBs of space that were occupied by a hidden partition used for back-ups (which I do not use, because I prefer to back-up onto a different physical disk). The fact is that I get more WiFI signal in similar conditions, the driver never crashes and, at most, I only have to reconnect (and the only reason for this is that I -have to confess that I- am really far away from the AP and signal level is poor.

An important issue that Lenovo should fix soon, as new generations of Thinkpad come and they all suffer the same problem in Windows.

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