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Determine the chipset of a wireless card

Introduction

IMPORTANT:

This section deals with a three related areas:

  • Determine the chipset of a wireless card
  • Determine the driver for a wireless card

Determine the chipset

There are two manufacturers involved with wireless cards. The first is the brand of the card itself. Examples of card manufacturers are Netgear, Ubiquiti , Linksys and D-Link. There are many, many manufacturers beyond the examples give here.

The second manufacturer is who makes the wireless chipset within the card. This is the most important company to know. Unfortunately, it is sometimes the hardest to determine. This is because card manufacturers generally don't want to reveal what they use inside their card. However, for our purposes, it is critical to know the wireless chipset manufacturer. Knowing the wireless chipset manufacturer allows you to determine which operating systems are supported, software drivers you need and what limitations are associated with them. The next section describes the operating systems supported and limitations by chipset.

You first need to determine what wireless chipset your card uses. This can be done by one or more of these techniques:

  • Search the internet for “<your card model> chipset” or “<your card model> linux”. Quite often you can find references to what chipset your card uses and/or other people's experiences.
  • Search the Forum
  • You may also have a look at windows driver file names, it's often the name of the chipset or the driver to use.
  • Check the card manufacturers page. Sometimes they say what chipset they use.
  • Have a look at lsusb -vv output for descriptions, USB id and kernel modules used. If the card is internal, do the same with lspci -vv.
  • Locate the FCC ID of your device. Enter the information into FCC Website and then browse the internal photos of the device.

pictures.aircrack-ng.org_fcc_id3.jpg


Here are some other resources to assist you in determine what chipset you have:


Chipset Supported by airodump for Windows Supported by airodump for Linux Supported by aireplay for Linux
AtherosCardBus: YES
PCI: NO (see CommView)
PCI, PCI-E: YES
Cardbus/PCMCIA/Expresscard:YES
USB: YES(b/g/n)
New mac80211 Atheros drivers have native injection and monitoring support
AtmelUNTESTED802.11b YES
802.11g UNTESTED
UNTESTED
Broadcom bcm43xxOld models only (BRCM driver)YESMOSTLY (Forum thread) No fragmentation attack support. Recommend to use b43, see below.
Broadcom b43NOYes (1.0-beta2 and up, check here)Yes, check here
Centrino bNOPARTIAL
(ipw2100 driver doesn't discard corrupted packets)
NO
Centrino b/gNOYESNO (firmware drops most packets) ipw2200inject No fragmentation attack support.
Centrino a/b/gNOYESYES (use ipwraw or iwl3945)
Centrino a/g/n (4965)NOYESMOSTLY, see iwlagn. Fakeauth is currently broken.
Centrino a/g/n (5xxx)NOYESYES
Cisco AironetYES?Yes, but very problematicNO (firmware issue)
Hermes IYESOnly with airodump not airodump-ng and only with a specific firmwareNO (firmware corrupts the MAC header)
NdisWrapperN/ANeverNever
Prism2/3NOold kernels only ⇐2.6.20YES (PCI and CardBus only: driver patching required) NOTE: Prism2/3 does not support shared key authentication and the fragmentation attack. There is a critical bug and this chipset is not currently recommended. It may even affect other kernel versions. Also you must use old kernel ⇐2.6.20
USB: Only old kernel ⇐2.6.20 with linux-wlan-ng
PrismGT FullMACYESYESYES (driver patching recommended)
PrismGT SoftMACYESYES (requires p54 >=2.6.30)YES (requires p54 >=2.6.30)
RalinkNOYESYES, see rt2x00, rt2500, rt2570, rt61 and rt73. Also see Ralink chipset comments later on this pager for important concerns.
RTL8180YESYESUNSTABLE (driver patching required)
RTL8185NOYESYES (mac80211 driver untested)
RTL8187B/RTL8197NOYESYES (2.6.27+, use the mac80211 driver with this patch)
RTL8187LUNTESTEDYES (driver patching required to view power levels)YES (driver patching recommended for injection and required to view power levels)
TI
(ACX100/ACX111)
NOYESYES (driver patching required) No fragmentation attack support. Please re-test fragmentation with the mac80211 driver + mac80211 frag patch!
ZyDAS 1201NOYESPartially but NOT RECOMMENDED (See patch for details)
ZyDAS 1211(B) softmacNOYESPartially but NOT RECOMMENDED (See patch for details). Atheros has acquired Zydas and renamed this chipset to AR5007UG.
ZyDAS 1211(B) mac80211NOYES (patching recommended)YES, but no fragmentation attack support yet.
Other mac80211 (ADMtek…)NOUNTESTED, but likely YESUNTESTED (YES for drivers with AP mode support)
Other legacy (Marvel…)NOUNKNOWNNO

Determine the driver

Once you have determined the chipset, check the driver section for which software driver you need. Software drivers connect the operating system to the hardware. The drivers are different for each operating system. There are also notes regarding limitations.

If you are deciding on which card to purchase, check the “Which is the best card to buy?” section on this page. There are many considerations that should go into your purchase decision:

  • Hardware compatibility with your existing equipment.
  • Price and availability of the card.
  • Availability of software drivers for your particular operating system and intended use of the software.
  • How active is development for the software drivers you need.
  • How much peer support and documentation is available for the card and software drivers.

It is not an easy decision to make. By considering these factors, it will help you make a more informed decision on what to purchase.


Chipset Windows driver (monitor mode) Linux Drivers Note
Atheros v4.2 or v3.0.1.12 or AR5000
(see this page for more information)
Madwifi, ath5k ath9k, ath9k_htc and ar9170/carl9170 Atheros and Zydas USB 802.11n cards. The rest of atheros chipsets excluding the ones mentioned and MIMO series as well as fullMAC (these are rare, only found in embedded devices) should be supported.
Atheros ath6klThird generation Atheros driver for mobile devices (AR6003)
Currently does not support injection
Atmel Atmel AT76c503aAT76C503/505A based USB WLAN adapters
Atmel Atmel AT76 USBAT76C503/505A based USB WLAN adapters, mac80211 driver
BroadcomBroadcom peek driverbcm43xxWindows: Old models only
Linux: always use latest -rc kernel
Broadcom with b43 driver b43 b43 - An excellent and fully supported driver
Broadcom 802.11n brcm80211 FOSS wireless driver for BCM4313, BCM43224, BCM43225 chipsets
Currently does not support monitor/injection
Centrino b ipw2100802.11b only
Centrino b/g ipw2200See IPW2200 and RF-Mon. See more recent update info here See this thread for how to do injection.
Centrino a/b/g ipw2915
ipw3945
iwl3945
ipw2915 uses ipw2200 driver (See this thread for alpha injection support.) For ipw3945 you can use the ipwraw-ng driver, iwl3945 recommended on >=2.6.26, or see Live Distros for WifiWay which includes patches for injection.
Centrino a/g/n iwlwifi 4965AGN under development.
Cisco/Aironet Cisco PCX500/PCX504 peek driver airo-linux 4500/4800/340/350 series, Firmware 4.25.30 recommended (see this for more info)
Hermes I Agere peek driver Orinoco
Orinoco Monitor Mode Patch
802.11b only and only with specific firmware (7.52)
NdiswrapperN/A ndiswrapper Using windows drivers in linux. It will never work with aircrack-ng
cx3110x
(Nokia 770/800)
cx3110xSupports monitor mode (flaky) but not injection
prism2/2.5LinkFerret or aerosol HostAP
wlan-ng
Use STA firmware >=1.5.6 (see Prism2 flashing)802.11b only, and only on old kernels ⇐2.6.20. See this forum entry regarding windows support.
prismGT PrismGT by 500brabus prism54 only FullMAC cards works with aircrack on Linux. Deprecated driver, refer to p54.
prismGT (alternative) p54 mac80211 based, requires >=2.6.30 for better softMAC support. Also supports PrismGT FullMAC and PrismGT USB based chipsets.
Ralink rt2x00 or
RaLink RT2570USB Enhanced Driver or
RaLink RT73 USB Enhanced Driver
The entire rt2x00 family: rt2400pci, rt2500pci, rt2500usb, rt2800pci and rt2800usb can inject and monitor. Including PCI and USB chips on b/g/n.
Realtek 8180 Realtek peek driver rtl8180-sa2400 802.11b only
Realtek 8187L r8187
rtl8187
Realtek 8187B rtl8187 (2.6.27+) or r8187b (beta)
TI ACX100/ACX111/ACX100USB
ZyDAS 1201 zd1201 802.11b only
ZyDAS 1211 zd1211rw plus patch Excellent USB chip with reliable aircrack-ng and general support
compatibility_drivers.txt · Last modified: 2017/01/10 23:57 by mister_x