The wi-fi doesn't work. I give up. I'm going back to... Linux

February 16, 2010 | categories: Gaming, Pcs

Linux and wi-fi. They normally go together like a square peg and a round hole. Every wireless adapter I've had the past few years has had at least some problems running under Linux. Ranging from my USB WPN111 putting an end to my first foray into Linux ("screw this - no internet, it's too much effort, I'm going back to Windows"), about 2 years ago, to my current laptop's random DNS failures when I used WPA2.

So, I was pleasantly surprised when my new TP-Link WN821N worked straight away on Linux on my desktop PC. Given that is was a €20 Wireless N adapter, I didn't expect it to. All well and good. Then it came to Windows. Expecting it to be simple as usual, I installed the driver. The wi-fi thing showed up, I used Connect to a Network, and... No network.

Several minutes of googling later reveals there is no Windows 7 driver (which is what Server 2008 R2 normally uses). Instead there is a Vista driver, which is no good in this case. So I've either:

  • Ran into one of those edge cases where the difference between Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 actually does matter.
  • Ran into one of those edge cases where the difference between Vista and 7 does matter


  • Both

Which really sucks. Especially when the majority of what I do on that desktop using Windows is gaming. (Yeah, yeah, gaming over Wi-Fi, tut tut...). Gaming sans multiplayer is kind of limited. I mean, sure I can play Fallout 3, and Oblivion fine, but what about Team Fortress 2? Oh, hold on, that works on Wine. Actually, so does Fallout 3. And openTTD. And that's basically all I play in PC games lately.

Right, so why am I running Windows on this machine? My copy of Visual Studio is from DreamSpark (as is my copy of Windows, which is why I'm using Server 2008 R2 in the first place - it was that or XP, I've no Windows 7 yet, and my Vista disc is a Dell OEM disc), which I'm fairly certain can only be installed once, and it's already on my laptop. uTorrent and Paint.NET both blow away their nearest competitors on Linux, but uTorrent is useless without an internet connection, and Paint.NET is only one program at the end of the day.

So, screw this - no internet, it's too much effort, I'm going back to Linux1. And that is something I never thought I'd say when I first started experimenting with Linux. Of course, most of this is TP-Link's fault. If some random outsider can write a working driver for Linux, I don't see why they shouldn't be able to write a driver for Windows 7. I won't be buying from them again.


On this desktop at least, on my laptop I still dual-boot to have VS for programming Windows languages, and iTunes for syncing my iPod Touch.