Problem with using an Apple Airport Express

Leslie Katz lesliek at
Thu Nov 29 19:53:06 EST 2007

Many thanks for your reply Dan.

The wireless card in the laptop is a Netgear WG511v2. The distribution 
on the laptop is Damn Small Linux v 4, chosen because of the laptop's 
age. To get the card to work, I use the Windows (XP? I'm sorry, I don't 
remember) driver supplied with the card and the version of ndiswrapper 
that comes as part of DSL v 4.

I understand what you say about leaving wpa_supplicant alone, because 
I've run it in debug mode and seen that it keeps rescanning. I hadn't 
realised, though, that if I didn't see the Airport Express at first, 
even though it was switched on, it might still show up in a later scan. 
I had assumed that the only way in which the first scan result would 
change later would be if an access point in range was switched on or off.

As to the driver's part in the process, obviously the driver does work 
at least sometimes. I seem to remember that there were various 
parameters one could set when loading the ndiswrapper module, but I've 
forgotten all about them, thinking with relief that, once I got the 
module to load, that was the end of that stage of the quest. Would going 
back to that stage and setting some parameters when loading ndiswrapper 
increase my chances of getting the card to connect to the Airport Express?

Thanks again,


Dan Williams wrote:
> On Thu, 2007-11-29 at 17:54 +0900, lesliek at wrote:
>> I am trying to connect reliably to one of the above.
>> When I boot up and run "iwlist wlan0 scan", sometimes the Airport
>> Express is listed, sometimes not.
> That is a driver issue.  However, be aware that wireless is an
> inherently unreliable medium.  You're not guaranteed to get a scan
> result from the AP every time you scan.  So no amount of driver code is
> going to make a difference here.  It can certainly take a few scans to
> build up a complete list of APs in your area.  If you leave
> wpa_supplicant alone for a bit, it will do multiple scans and eventually
> find your AP.
> However, the driver can help the problem.  Drivers need to buffer  scan
> results for some time after a request.  The driver shouldn't do stupid
> things like clear the BSS list whenever somebody gets results (orinoco,
> I'm looking at you).  It should allow any number of callers to get
> results.  This may be what's happening to you.  Most of the offending
> drivers are older fullmac-based drivers.
> What client hardware are you using?
> Dan
>> If it's listed, I have no problem connecting to it using
>> wpa_suplicant.
>> If, however, it's not listed, I can't connect to it.
>> I asked a question about this once before and someone kindly suggested
>> that I modify my wpa_supplicant.conf file to include "scan_ssid=1" in
>> that part of the file dealing with the network.
>> However, that hasn't help me connect if the the Airport Express isn't
>> listed in my scan.
>> I'd be grateful for any other suggestions of things I might try to
>> connect to the Airport Express when it doesn't appear in a scan.
>> Thanks for reading this,
>> Leslie
>> ____ 
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