Using the AX210 with Linux on the Framework Laptop

The AX210 and AX210 vPro are the two WiFi modules we’re currently making available with the Framework Laptop DIY Edition. These are brand new modules that support WiFi 6E and have only recently started to get support in Linux. Support has been bumpy, as Intel has introduced regressions in different kernel versions:

Kernel versions:

We also recommend avoiding the vPro version for now, since there may be issues with standby power consumption in Linux.

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Qualcomm Atheros AR9462 (QCNFA222) is an older card which seems like it has the right form factor. Looks like it might work. I know some other Atheros cards are blob-free. No first hand experience with this one though.

https://trisquel.info/en/forum/libreopen-source-firmware-m2-wifi-card

planning on running arch here so this should be no issue at all :slight_smile:

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What key is the 2230 socket? I’ve seen cards that are key A and key E. Thanks.

It’s an E key socket, so it’ll work with E and A+E key WiFi cards.

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Thank you for posting about this here, and for doing Linux kernel testing! I’ll look forward to running newer kernels on this. Thank you for all you’re doing.

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I bought the DIY version intending to install Linux on it, but I included the AX210 (no-vPro) because it was roughly in the same price range as the other mobile wifi cards I browsed through on NewEgg.

I had intended to install the latest Ubuntu LTS but it appears to come with a kernel that doesn’t support the AX210. Since I don’t really have a way to update the laptop without wifi, could I get away with installing the latest Ubuntu 21.04 image to get the right kernel version and work from there? What do people suggest for getting up and running as quickly and smoothly as possible with a Linux install?

My solution I already used on my actual laptop : use a usb to rj45 adaptor which is recognized by the kernel at install. I used that with the Debian network installer which don’t include wifi firmware.

21.04 should work out of the box with AX210, but I can try it out and make sure.

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Confirmed, Ubuntu 21.04 works out of the box with the AX210 on the Framework Laptop. It currently ships with the 5.11 kernel, where there may still be some remaining bluetooth or WiFi issues with the AX210. Once 21.04 gets 5.12 or newer, those should be resolved.

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And this right here is why I’m so happy to support your team and your product. Thank you so much for this info and for everything you’re doing with the Framework laptop. :+1:

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Also if you need to use an older distro version for various reasons, you can usually install upstream kernel packages which are not officially supported to get the latest features needed.

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Time to brush up on my linux! Looking forward to the framework teams guides (and community guides) on getting a few of these common distros up and running!

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It’s also worth noting that if you plan to run an Ubuntu long-term support (LTS) release or an OS built on the Ubuntu LTS repos like elementary OS, the point-releases also get updated hardware enablement (HWE) kernels—albeit a bit later. Ubuntu 20.04.3 LTS (due soon, I think?) will have the same updated 5.11 HWE kernel that comes to newer non-LTS releases.

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@nrp should this be on the DIY order page — seems like a crucial thing to be aware of when ordering.

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Note that AX210 Wifi card requires Linux Kernel 5.10 or above.

Current Kernel for Ubuntu 20.04 is 5.8.

Any Framework DIY setups should use Ubuntu 21.04 which has Kernel 5.11.

Otherwise, WiFi and Bluetooth will not work.

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I’ve changed the first post to be a wiki post, and will pin this as soon as we fix our database issues.

Per Linux users: Don't upgrade to 5.13 by @mbernhard there are regressions on newer kernels too.

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I have just installed Linux Mint 20.2 from USB - which installs kernel 5.4 only. Alternatively, this link describes a way to modify the USB live ISO for other kernels:
Modify Live Iso to use any kernel version. - Linux Mint Forums”.
I choose to not go that route because it’s rather complicated.

I did however use my Raspberry Pi WI-FI USB dongle to gain network access for updates. And then was able to install-activate the kernel to 5.11 (.0-25-generic~). Kernel 5.12 was not presented as an option within the LM Update Manager app. Post re-boot everything seems to be working including BT and left-right click, 2 finger scroll & tap entry pad mousing without changing other settings. BTW - I have the no-vPro Wi-Fi module working on 2.4 and 5G WI-FI bands.

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I’m on 5.13.7 (fedora respin) and the WiFi is giving me throughput of about 5mbps when other devices on the same network are in the 100mpbs range.

Starting to dig into it, but wondering if others are hitting similar issues?

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