I can’t tell you how many distros of LInux I went through trying to get an old Dell Inspiron 1420 up and running. Broadcom 43xx wireless driver install failures. What a pain in the butt. The only one I got running was an old version of PCLinuxOS…which broke immediately upon update. I remembered seeing Haiku while poking around the Internet a while back and thought about giving it a try. The install was simple. The wireless didn’t work, but the fix was an easy line or two at the terminal while on a wired connection, followed by a reboot and viola! Wireless works.
Now here is what I don’t understand. How is it that so many Linux distros that want to be approachable to beginners make it so darn hard to get wireless drivers installed and running? Haiku made it pretty simple.
Well I thought I’d throw that out there. Otherwise, I wish Haiku much success. It brought my 1420 back to life.
Dell provided a customised Linux distribution specifically certified to work with your Inspiron 1420, many users report that the Dell install works perfectly for them (including all the features which are completely absent for any machine running Haiku).
The reason it’s a pain to use this wireless chipset is that Broadcom, the supplier, specifically choose to obstruct development of drivers for this hardware by the OS vendor and instead provide poor quality third party drivers and non-redistributable firmware. The Inspiron 1420 was also available with the far superior Intel wireless chipset, which doesn’t require all this messing about you described in order to work out of the box with Linux (and presumably also with Haiku).
Since the days of the Inspiron 1420, Broadcom have seen the light and their newest devices (e.g. the Wireless N USB and SDIO chips) are more “open”, so they work out of the box on a suitably new Linux distribution.