Problem with unauthorized MiniPCI network card

From ThinkWiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Contents

Problem description

The ThinkPad BIOS only allows to boot with an "authorized" adapter installed. If an unsupported card is detected, the BIOS prints a message on the screen and stops the system:

  1802: Unauthorized network card is plugged in - Power off and remove the miniPCI network card.

The card's sub-vendor PCI-ID (which can be seen using lspci -v) is checked against a whitelist in the BIOS. IBM/Lenovo's reasoning for this is that the combination of MiniPCI card and the integrated antenna in the ThinkPad needs to be certified by the US FCC (Federal Communications Commission).1 or similar agencies in other countries.

Solutions

NOTE!
Any of the following solutions should suffice to make the wireless card useable. You only need to perform one of them.

It may be possible to use the computer with the unauthorized card deactivated (but not removed). Press F1 to enter the BIOS and deactivate the WLAN card, then attempt to boot with the card disabled. This does not make the wireless card work, but it may allow you to boot the computer normally.

Modifying the card's ID

A safer and better method than modifying the BIOS is modifying the PCI-ID of the wlan card to match the authorized one:

  1. You'll risk the wireless card instead of the motherboard.
  2. Future BIOS updates will not create any problems.
  3. No problem with newer laptops with different BIOS; the only reqirement is to find an ID that is already listed in the BIOS, which can be easily achieved if the community maintaina a compatibility table.

The instructions are here (link down, 2011/05/14 - archive.org mirror here, second mirror here). This page is for Atheros-based cards and HP notebooks, but it applies to Thinkpads as well. It also has links on how to edit the PCI-ID on Intel Pro Wireless cards. Instruction for intel 2200/2915 cards are here or here or here (in German). The second one is much simpler because it provides an already patched and compiled ipw2200 driver required to do the job.

NOTE!
On Linux-based distributions, the driver is loaded based on the PCI-ID. Keep this in mind when "faking" other models.
NOTE!
Modifying your PCI-ID will require either a laptop without a BIOS lock or a PCI adapter for your desktop. Also, this procedure can render your card useless, but that's better than bricking your laptop.
NOTE!
According to the information found from the links above the authors suggest a change in the network card memory (ethtool -E ethX magic 0x2200 offset 0x8 value 0x12). However, this doesn't work on my Thinkpad X40. Further modifications were needed to eliminate the 1802 error. The value of the first register inside the memory of the PCI card should be modified to read:

Offset: 0x0000 Values: 02 a5 00 80 20 42 86 80 12 27 86 80 18 00 01 03

one source suggest that one more value should be modified:

offset 0xa8 value 0xf9

although it might not be necessary.

Use another MiniPCI (express) slot

On models with multiple MiniPCI (express) slots, the BIOS checks only the “WiFi-slot” for unauthorized WiFi cards. A neighboring WWAN slot is allowed to hold such a card. But there might be a catch: the WWAN slot’s “disable radio” signal could be active, so that the card will refuse from using the radio. The operating system can see this condition: on Linux it is reported as “hard blocked” by rfkill. (This actually depends on the driver: “b43” does notice that the card refuses to switch it’s radio on and reports it via the rfkill interface.)

Combinations that work in the WWAN slot without further tweaking:

  • Lenovo Y530 / Intel 4965AGN
  • X61t (7762-94G) / Atheros 5008X scavenged from a MacBook Pro

On MiniPCI express(!) slots, pin 20 is used as the first “disable radio” signal, as implemented by common WiFi cards. Isolating pin 20 in the slot from the card will leave the signal dangling, which means “disable radio” is inactive: i.e. “radio on”. If necessary, the pin on the card can be taped over with film or painted over with nail polish to block electrical connection. Pin #20 is located on the underside of the miniPCI Express board, second pin from the notch, on the side with more pins. Here is detailed MiniPCIe pinout. Combinations reported to work this way:

  • Thinkpad X61s / Intel Wifi link 4965agn
  • Thinkpad X61 / Intel 3945abg (bulk)
  • Thinkpad X200 / Intel 5300 and Broadcom 4312
  • Thinkpad T60p (widescreen) / Sierra MC8781

Questions still open:

  • can the signal be deactivated otherwise? (WLAN-on-for-WWAN-slot)
  • do WWAN cards have such a signal? Is it on another pin (a “second disable radio” pin is defined for mPCIe since at least 2010)?
    • in case it’s the same signal, how to deactivate the WWAN kill signal? On the X200 the hardware switch doesn’t do that.
  • as the card (usually) drives an LED to reflect it’s state, can that signal be routed to the WWAN or WiFi LED?

Taping over any Mini PCI-e pin is a delicate exercise in patience, the connectors are less than the width of most ball point pens. Transparent scotch type tape is easier to work with since it is possible to see where you're cutting.

See the discussion page for more.

Modifying the BIOS

ATTENTION!
It is dangerous to mess with your BIOS, you can easily make your machine unbootable. Proceed with caution!
NOTE!
On the R32, T43, X41, X60, W500, X230 and probably others, the BIOS hacks and the "no-1802" utility don't work.

See the table below for links to modified BIOS images with the whitelist disabled. Information on making this BIOS modification for newer ThinkPads can be found here.

Alternatively, you may can modify the whitelist to include the PCI-ID of the card you wish to use. The complete instructions for this procedure are here.

  • You can try googling for your model number + "whitelist removal", there are lots of pre-hacked BIOSes out there.
  • You can use the DOS no-1802 utility, written by Tisheng Chen.2 It will set a certain bit in the CMOS memory which disables the whitelist check, but it has been reported not to work on the latest machines, such as the T43 and X41
  • You can compile and run (as root) the following C-code, which was written by Matthew Garrett. It was based on the code written by Vojtech Pavlik, which in turn was based on the assembly used in the no-1802 program. 3

#include <stdio.h>
#include <sys/types.h>
#include <unistd.h>
#include <sys/stat.h>
#include <fcntl.h>

int main(void)
{
  int fd;
  unsigned char data;
  
  fd = open("/dev/nvram", O_RDWR);
  if (fd==-1) {
    printf("Opening /dev/nvram failed\n");
    return 1;
  }
  printf("Disabling WiFi whitelist check.\n"); 

  /* BIG INFORMATIONAL WARNING */ 
  /* The linux nvram driver doesn't give access to the first 14 bytes of
     the CMOS. As a result, we seek to 0x5c rather than 0x6a. If you're 
     implementing this under another OS, then you'll have to go to whichever
     address is appropriate for your access method */

  lseek(fd, 0x5c, SEEK_SET);
  read(fd, &data, 1);
  printf("CMOS address 0x5c: %02x->", data);
  data |= 0x80;
  printf("%02x\n", data);
  lseek(fd, 0x5c, SEEK_SET);
  if (write(fd, &data, 1)<0) {
    printf("Unable to write to /dev/nvram - hack failed\n");
    close(fd);
    return 2;
  }
  close(fd);
  printf("Done.\n");
  return 0;
}

BIOS modifications status

ATTENTION!
This table is meant to give users an idea of what/how attempts have been made at BIOS modifications and what their success rate is. As stated before, it is dangerous to mess with your BIOS, you can easily make your machine unbootable. Please proceed with caution!

The following table contains information about ThinkPad models BIOS modification status to run an unauthorized Mini PCI card. 4

Model Type BIOS Version Operating System Method Success
ThinkPad 240 2609-21G 1.18 Damn Small Linux Matthew Garrett code 3 Yes
ThinkPad A31 2652-P3M 1.10 (1NET16WW) Debian GNU/Linux Lenny (2.6.25-2-686) Matthew Garrett code 3 Yes
ThinkPad A31 2653-CU3 1.13 (1GET41WW) Windows XP Professional SP2 no-1802 DOS 6.22 floppy Yes
ThinkPad A31p 2653-R8U 1.10 (1NET16WW) Windows XP Professional SP2 no-1802 DOS 6.22 floppy Yes
ThinkPad G40 2388-2UU 1.21 (2006/2/24; 1TETA6WW) Windows XP Home no-1802 DOS 6.22 floppy Yes
ThinkPad R31 2656-6FG 3.11 (12-01-2004) Windows XP Boot Disk no-1802 utility Yes
ThinkPad R31 2656-E4U 3.11 (12-01-2004) Windows XP Professional SP2 no-1802 utility Yes
ThinkPad R32 2656-EG1 2.16 (16-06-2006) DOS Boot Disk no-1802 utility No
ThinkPad R40 2656-69U  ? Windows 2000 Pro no-1802 utility Yes
ThinkPad R40 2681-F7G n/a Windows XP Pro SP2 w/ Intel 2200BG No-1802 utility Yes
ThinkPad R40 2682  ? Debian Etch Matthew Garrett code Yes
ThinkPad R40 2896-J3U 1.24 (10-18-2005) Fedora Core 4 Vojtech Pavlik code Yes
ThinkPad R40 2681-L7U 1.24 (10-18-2005) Windows XP Pro no-1802 utility Yes
ThinkPad R40 2722-BDG 1.33 Windows XP Pro no-1802 Linux Live CD Yes
ThinkPad R40 2722-DG1 1.26 Ubuntu Linux 8.10 2.6.27-9 Matthew Garrett code Yes
ThinkPad R40e 2684-LKG  ? Windows XP Pro no-1802 DOS boot CD Yes
ThinkPad R40 2681-CDG 1.27 (10-06-2006) Windows XP Pro no-1802 LiveCD Yes
ThinkPad R40 2722-DM2 1.09 (2003) Windows XP Pro no-1802 LiveCD Yes
ThinkPad R40 2723  ? Slackware Linux 12 Matthew Garrett's code Yes
ThinkPad R40 2681-CFM 1.24 (10-17-2005) Gentoo & XP Pro no-1802 utility (boot from USB key to apply) Yes
ThinkPad R40 2724 1.30 (10-19-2005) FreeBSD 6.1-p1 code by Matthew Garrett, compiled and run on bactrack Yes
ThinkPad R40 2724-3XU 1.33 (06-29-2006) Windows XP Pro no-1802 utility Yes
ThinkPad R40 2682 1.01 (2003-01-24) Debian GNU/Linux etch (March 2007) Matthew Garret's code Yes
ThinkPad R40 2722-BDG 1.33 (2006/6/29) Lunar Linux (2007/03/04) Matthew Garret's code Yes
ThinkPad R50 1829-7RG 3.21 (02-06-2006) Windows XP Pro no-1802 Linux Live CD Yes
ThinkPad R50 2.13 (2004-01-08) Ubuntu 10.10 no-1802 W98 Boot Floppy Yes
ThinkPad R50 1830-6FG 3.05a (14-05-2004) Windows XP Pro no-1802 Linux Live CD Yes
ThinkPad R50e 2.10 (2006-12-22) no-1802 Linux Live CD Yes
ThinkPad R50p 1832-2AG 3.19 (13-10-2005) Ubuntu 5.10 (kernel 2.6.12-10-686) Vojtech Pavlik code Yes
ThinkPad R51 2887-W2C 1.27 (03-03-2006) Windows XP Pro SP2 no-1802 utility (boot from USB key to apply) Yes
ThinkPad R52 1849-BMU 1.27 (09-20-2006) Windows XP Pro SP2 no-1802 utility (boot from external USB floppy) No
ThinkPad R61  ?  ? Middleton BIOS 5 yes
ThinkPad T23 2647-4MU 1.18 (08-06-2004) Windows XP Pro/SP2 no-1802 utility (W98se-bootfloppy) Yes
ThinkPad T30 2366-68G 2.09 (08-08-2005) Windows XP Pro no-1802 utility Yes
ThinkPad T30 2366-ES1 2.10 Windows XP Pro no-1802 utility Yes
ThinkPad T30 2366-97G 2.09 (08-08-2005) Windows XP Pro no-1802 utility Yes
ThinkPad T30 2366-N6G 2.09 (08-08-2005) Windows XP Pro no-1802 utility Yes
ThinkPad T30 2366-N6G 2.10 (26-06-2006) Windows XP Pro no-1802 utility Yes
ThinkPad T30 2366-81U 2.10 (27-06-2006) Windows XP Pro no-1802 Linux Live CD Yes
ThinkPad T30 2366-86U 2.10 (27-06-2006) Windows XP Pro SP 2 no-1802 utility Yes
ThinkPad T30 2366-86G 2.10 (27-06-2006) Windows XP Pro SP 2 and Ubuntu 7.10 "Gutsy Gibbon" Intel BG2200 no-1802 Linux Live CD Yes
ThinkPad T30 2366-86M 2.05 (12-06-2003) Mepis 7 no-1802 Linux Live CD Yes
ThinkPad T30 2366-DU9 2.10 (27-06-2006) Suse Linux 10.1 no-1802 Linux Live CD Yes
ThinkPad T30 2367-RU1 2.01 (06-08-2002) Windows XP Pro SP2 no-1802 Linux Live CD Yes
ThinkPad T30 2366-81M 2.10 (1IET71WW) Debian GNU/Linux Lenny (2.6.24-1-686) Matthew Garrett code 3 Yes
ThinkPad T40 2373-7CU 3.21 Windows XP Pro no-1802 Linux Live CD Yes
ThinkPad T40 2373-PM1 3.21 Windows XP Pro SP2 no-1802 Linux Live CD Yes
ThinkPad T40 2373-4BG 3.21 Windows XP Pro SP2 no-1802 Linux Live CD Yes
ThinkPad T40 2373-7CU 3.21 (06-02-2006) Windows XP Pro SP2 no-1802 Linux Live CD Yes
ThinkPad T40 2373-75U 3.21 (09-12-2006) Fedora 6 w Intel 2915ABG no-1802 Linux Live CD Yes
ThinkPad T40 2373-82U 3.18 (09-15-2005) Windows XP/ SUSE 10.1 No-1802 utility Yes
ThinkPad T40 2373-8CG 3.05a (2004-05-14) Arch Linux No-1802 LiveCD Yes
ThinkPad T40 2373-8CG 3.15 (2005-03-29) Windows XP Pro SP2 w/Gigabyte GN-WI01GS No-1802 LiveCD Yes
ThinkPad T40 2373-PU7 3.21 (09-12-2006) Windows XP Professional No-1802 utility Yes
ThinkPad T40 2373-42G 3.20 (11-05-2006) Windows 2000 Pro no-1802 utility Yes
ThinkPad T40 2374-8CG 3.20 (11-05-2006) Ubuntu 6.06 LTS w/Intel Pro Lan2200 no-1802 Linux Live CD Yes
ThinkPad T40 2374-8CU 3.03 (07 Apr 2004) Windows XP no-1802 utility (applied via FreeDos bootable USB stick) Yes
ThinkPad T40 2374-DG1 3.21 (06-02-2006) Ubuntu 6.10 w/Broadcom 4306 Matthew Garrett's code Yes
ThinkPad T40 2374-8CU 3.16 (2006-02-21) Windows XP Pro SP2 no-1802 DOS boot CD Yes
ThinkPad T40 2.13 (2004-01-08) Ubuntu 10.04 LTS no-1802 W98 boot floppy Yes
ThinkPad T40 2376-CG1 3.23 1RETDRWW (2007-07-03) Windows XP Pro SP3 w/ Broadcom BCM94318MPG no-1802 Linux Live CD Yes
ThinkPad T40p 2373-G1G 3.19 (10-13-2005) Debian GNU/Linux (sid) no-1802 Linux Live CD Yes
ThinkPad T40p 2373-G5G 3.21 (2006-06-02) Windows XP Pro SP2 / Gentoo 2007.0 no-1802 Linux Live CD Yes
ThinkPad T41 2373-1FG 3.21 (2007-06-18) Windows XP Pro SP2 no-1802 utility Yes
ThinkPad T41 2373-5G1 2004 Fedora Core 6 w/Intel 5ABG a/b/g no-1802 Linux Live CD Yes
ThinkPad T41 2373-9HU n/a Ubuntu 6.10 w/Atheros 5212 a/b/g no-1802 Linux Live CD Yes
ThinkPad T41 2373-2FG n/a Windows XP Pro SR2 w/ Intel 2200BG no-1802 utility Yes
ThinkPad T41p 2373-GEG BIOS Build ID: 1RETDOWW(3.20) Gentoo / XP pro SP2 Matthew Garrett's code 3 Yes
ThinkPad T41p 2374-GGU 3.21 (1RETDPWW) 6/2/2006 Slackware / XP pro SP2 Matthew Garrett's code Yes
ThinkPad T41 2373-K32 BIOS Build ID: 1RETDOWW(3.20) CentOS 5.0 w/Atheros 5212 (CM9) Matthew Garrett's code Yes
ThinkPad T42 2373-6UU Not noted Fedora 7 w/Atheros 5212 Matthew Garrett's code Yes
ThinkPad T42 2373-4TG 3.13 (1RETDHWW) (29-10-2004) Windows XP Pro SP2 w/ Intel PRO 2200BG no-1802 Linux Live CD Yes
ThinkPad T42 2373-Y8N 1RETDRWW (3.23) openSUSE 11.1 / Intel 2915abg Matthew Garrett's code Yes
ThinkPad T42p 2373-HTU 3.23 (1RETDRWW) (06-18-2007) Windows XP Pro SP2 w/ Intel 2915ABG No-1802 utility Yes
ThinkPad T42 2373-K2G 3.17 (07-27-2005) Windows XP Pro SP2 w/ Intel 2915ABG No-1802 utility Yes
ThinkPad T42 2373-M1U 3.13 1RETDHWW (10/29/2004) Fedora 7 w/ Intel PRO 2200BG Matthew Garrett's code Yes
ThinkPad T42 2373-LM1 3.23 (1RETDRWW) (06-18-2007) Debian Lenny (2.6.21-2-686) w/ Intel PRO 2915ABG Matthew Garrett's code Yes
ThinkPad T42 2378-EXU 3.18 (09-15-2005) Windows XP Pro SP2 No-1802 utility Yes
ThinkPad T42 2373-F3G 3.18 (09-15-2005) Windows XP Pro SP2 No-1802 W98 Boot Floppy Yes
ThinkPad T43 1871-F1G 1.19 (70ET59WW) (2005-09-20) n/a no-1802 Linux Live CD No
ThinkPad T60 6371-CTO 1.04 (7IET23WW) Ubuntu 10.10 Matthew Garrett's code No
ThinkPad T61  ? 2.27-1.08 (20 Apr 2010) Linux Mint 9 Middleton BIOS 5 or manual patching (requires installing Windows XP temporarily) yes
ThinkPad T61p  ? 2.27-1.08 (20 Apr 2010) Linux Mint 9 Middleton BIOS 5 or manual patching (requires installing Windows XP temporarily) yes
ThinkPad X22 2662-95G 1.32 (2003-06-10) Debian GNU/Linux testing, kernel 2.6.18-3-686 Matthew Garrett's code Yes
ThinkPad X24 2662-MPG 1.26 (2002-05-22) Debian GNU/Linux 2.6.18-5 Matthew Garrett's code Yes
ThinkPad X30 AR5212  ? Debian Linux 2.6.18-5 Matthew Garrett's code Yes
ThinkPad X30 2672-41j 1.08 (08-09-2005) Gentoo Kernel 2.6.15 no-1802 utility Yes
ThinkPad X30 2672-4XU 1.09 Win XP Pro SP2 no-1802 Linux Live CD Yes
ThinkPad X30 2673-EU2 1.09 Windows XP Pro SP2 no-1802 utility Yes
ThinkPad X31 2672-C2G 3.02 (22-09-2005) Debian Etch (Testing), Kernel 2.6.22-rc7 no-1802 utility Yes
ThinkPad X31 2672-PG9 2.04 (2003-11-10) Debian Etch (Testing), Kernel 2.6.21-2 Matthew Garrett's code Yes
ThinkPad X31 2673-C27 3.02 (22-09-2005) Ubuntu 5.10 (kernel 2.6.12-9-386) Matthew Garrett code 3 Yes
ThinkPad X31 2672-1UG 3.02 (22-09-2005) FreeBSD 6-STABLE no-1802 Linux Live CD Yes
ThinkPad X31 2672-CEG 3.02 (22-09-2005) Debian Etch (Testing), Kernel 2.6.17-2-686 no-1802 Linux Live CD Yes
ThinkPad X31 2672-CXU 2.04 Windows XP Pro no-1802 DOS boot CD Yes
ThinkPad X31 2672-PBU 3.02 Windows XP Pro no-1802 DOS boot CD Yes
ThinkPad X31 2672-I5A 3.02 Windows XP Pro no-1802 DOS boot CD Yes
ThinkPad X31 2672-C8G 3.02 Debian (kernel 2.6.16.20-386) Matthew Garrett code 3 Yes
ThinkPad X31 2672-CEG 2.11 (02/13/2004) Debian (kernel 2.6.18-4-686, gcc 4.1.2) Matthew Garrett code 3 Yes
ThinkPad X31 2884-BRU 1.03 (1QET34WW) 2003-04-08 Windows XP Pro SP2 w/ Intel 2915ABG no-1802 DOS boot CD Yes
ThinkPad X31 2672-C2G  ? Win XP Pro, w/ Gigabyte GN-WI03N-RN no-1802 Linux Live CD Yes
ThinkPad X31 2672-BAU 3.02 (1QET97WW) Windows Vista w/ Broadcom 43XG, Ubuntu 7.10 no-1802 Linux Live CD Yes
ThinkPad X32 2672-58G 3.02 Ubuntu 8.04 no-1802 CD Yes
ThinkPad X40 2371-CTO 2.08 (2006/12/25; 1UETD3WW) Windows XP Pro, Ubuntu 9 modify PCI-CARD EEPROM Yes
ThinkPad X40 2371-8EU 1.42 (2004/09/16; 1UET92WW) Windows XP Pro no-1802 Linux Live CD Yes
ThinkPad X40 2371-8EU 2.08 (2006/12/25; 1UETD3WW) Windows XP Professional SP3, Ubuntu 8.04 no-1802 Linux Live CD Yes
ThinkPad X41 1866-6SU  ? Windows XP Pro no-1802 DOS boot CD No
ThinkPad X41 2525-A2U 2.06 (2006/03/14; 74ET61WW) Windows XP Pro no-1802 Linux Live CD No
ThinkPad X41 2528-ELU 2.06 (2006/03/14; 74ET61WW) Windows XP Pro / OSX 10.4.8 / Ubuntu Edgy no-1802 Linux Live CD No
ThinkPad X60s 1702-3JU  ? Debian Testing Matthew Garrett's code NO (bricked)
ThinkPad X60s 1702-3JG 2.18 (2008/11/20; 7BETD7WW) Slackware Modded BIOS (7buj27us_TC-5M_SLIC21.zip) YES
ThinkPad X61t 7762-94G  ? Windows 7 Ent Middleton BIOS 5 or in WWAN slot (no taping) YES (no LED/HW-switch)
ThinkPad X200  ? 1.43 Ubuntu Karmic7 Matthew Garrett's code NO (tape pin 20 instead)
Thinkpad X200 7454-2QU 3.05 Windows 7 32-bit Tape over pin 20 Yes
ThinkPad X200s  ? 3.14 (2010-07-07) Ubuntu tape over 20-pin, place card into 2nd(!) slot (WWAN). Without taping there will be no error but it won't work. (Led doesn't work after all) Yes
ThinkPad X201i (X201) 3249-CTO 1.16 (2010-06-07; 6QET46WW) Debian Squeeze tape-over 20-pin No; BIOS hacks not attempted
ThinkPad R40 2681-LUU 1.27 (2006-06-29; 1OET61WW) Windows XP Pro jmp1802.cmd Yes
ThinkPad W500 4061-A97 1.16 (2008-09-24; 6FET46WW) Ubuntu 8.10 Matthew Garrett's code No
ThinkPad X201 3249-CTO 1.22 (2010-09-09; 6QET52WW) Ubuntu 10.10 tape over 20-pin; place card into WWAN slot No
ThinkPad X201 3249-CTO 1.22 (2010-09-09; 6QET52WW) Ubuntu 10.10 Matthew Garrett's code No
ThinkPad X201 3249-CTO 1.22 (2010-09-09; 6QET52WW) Ubuntu 10.10 Zender's BIOS tools yes
ThinkPad X201 3249-CTO 1.32 (6QET62WW) Ubuntu 10.10 This modified BIOS yes
ThinkPad X201 3680-VV8 1.34 (6QET64WW) Arch (updated 05.05.2011) This modified BIOS (updated using preinstalled Windows 7) yes, 2*5 Beep on Startup (see [[1]])
ThinkPad X201 3680-WR5 1.16 (2010-06-07; 6QET46WW) Windows 7 64bit tape-over 20-pin no
ThinkPad X201 3680-WR5 1.40 (2012-10-11; 6QET70WW) Windows 7 64bit tape-over 20-pin no
ThinkPad X220  ? 1.21 (8duj10us) Arch Linux BIOS by cmuelasl (updated using preinstalled Windows 7) Yes
ThinkPad X220 4291-29G 1.39 (2013-18-07; 8DET69WW) Windows 7 64bit tape-over 20-pin Yes
ThinkPad X230 2306-CTO 2.50, 2.51 Debian, Trisquel BIOS-MODS forum request for the X230, tape-over pin 20 failed, no-1802 utility failed No
ThinkPad X300  ?  ? Middleton BIOS 5 yes
ThinkPad X301 2777-CTO 3.10 (2010-03-16; 6EET50WW) Ubuntu 10.04 tape over 20-pin; place card into WWAN slot no

Problem with WiFi LED

After getting an unauthorized card to work, you may notice that the WiFi LED found on the ThinkPad is not working. This doesn't happen with all unauthorized cards. The general cause for this is the fact that the MiniPCI standard leaves the implementation of the LED signals available on the MiniPCI connector to the card vendors. Therefore some newer WiFi cards use one of the signals originally meant for LEDs to implement the "radio kill" switch input. As a result, the LED doesn't get proper signals and fails.

Details

The WiFi LED found in ThinkPads is connected to following pins on the MiniPCI connector.

Pin Signal Description
11 LED1_GRNP WiFi active LED +
13 LED1_GRNN WiFi active LED - (older cards) / RF Silent input (newer cards)

Note: The descriptions are specific to this article.

If your LED is not working, the problem could be the pin 13. Newer cards may no longer provide the necessary negative signal there to drive the LED. Before you apply any fixes, be sure to check the voltage between pin 11 and ground (can be found for example on the MiniPCI latch arms) - it should give you about 3.3V while the WiFi is active and 0V otherwise. The voltage between pin 13 and ground should measure about 2.5V. The notebook has to be running while you perform the tests so be extremely careful. All the mentioned pins are on the upper side so it's quite easy to get to them with a multimeter. If all the voltages match, your LED is fixable.

Reference:
MiniPCI Specification (PDF, 724KB)
MiniPCI Pinout

Solution

The solution is to connect the ground (GND) to the pin 13. However, since the new RF Silent input signal is active low, grounding the card side will tell it to turn itself off. Therefore, we have to separate pin 13 of the card from the system board and connect ground to the system board side only.

There are many ways to accomplish this. One which doesn't require any soldering is to mask pin 13 on the card with a cellophane tape and use about 3cm of thin wire to connect pin 13 of the connector to the ground. Place one end of the wire on the masked pad and insert the card into the slot. Check if the wire is centered on the pad and try pulling it (but not too hard) to see if it holds. If it comes out easily, pull the card out and repeat. If you successfully attach it, you have to connect the other end to the ground. The best place is the left MiniPCI latch arm. Bend it outside and insert the wire into the small gap between the two pieces of metal the arm is made from. Finally, make sure that the wire doesn't touch anything else and doesn't stand out too much, it must not touch the touchpad electronics when you put the palmrest back on. If in doubt, cover the wire with some insulator.

ATTENTION!
Do this fix ONLY if you know exactly what you are doing and at your own risk! If you're not sure about any part, don't even try it or you may damage your WiFi card and/or brick your laptop. You have been warned.
NOTE!
If your card is not listed in the table below, your WiFi LED may not work for some other reason. Therefore, make sure you understood the problem described here and made all the measurements carefully. This way you will know if this apply to your card and if it can be fixed this way. Otherwise, if you're skilled enough, please try to find out why your LED doesn't work and contribute to this article.

Successful WiFi LED fixes

Model Type WiFi card Operating System Success Comments
T41 2374-312 Intel PRO/Wireless 2915ABG,

Spares No: 373830-001

Windows XP SP2,

Ubuntu 7.10

Yes The WiFi card seems to be a HP one (tip: google for spares no.). Not sure thou - received it with an already changed PCI-ID.
X31 2672-PG9 Intel PRO/Wireless 2915ABG, Broadcom BCM4306 Debian Sid Yes Both cards are non-IBM ones, BIOS was patched. ipw2200 needed the led=1 option to be enabled while loading the module.

External Sources


FOOTNOTES [Δ]
  1. This is explained in a message to the LKML and subsequently clarified.
  2. The no-1802 tool was announced and explained in a message to the Linux-Thinkpad ML.
  3. Vojtech Pavlik's C-code was originally posted in a message to the LKML. It was based on the assembly used in the no-1802 program. Matthew Garrett rewrote the code to provide more error checking.
  4. This information has been added by users. Please feel free to add systems if you have had personal success or failure.
  5. The user Middleton has released patched BIOS for R61/T61/X61/X300 on the NotebookReview forums. The BIOS disables the MiniPCI whitelist, as well as unlocking full SATA-II speed.
Personal tools
Namespaces

Variants
Actions
Navigation
Toolbox