Configuring Debian Etch on Acer Aspire 4710Z

Hardware Specs of the Laptop

  • Intel Pentium dual-core processor T2080 (1.73 GHz, 533 MHz FSB, 1 MB L2 Cache)
  • 14.1” WXGA Acer CrystalBrite LCD
  • Mobile Intel Graphics Media Accelerator
  • 1 GB DDR (Upgraded from 512MB)
  • DVD-Super Multi DL
  • 802.11b/g WLAN
  • Bluetooth 2.0+EDR

I installed Debian etch which comes with the kernel 2.6.18-4-686

Graphics and sound worked with the installation. Wireless and the Acer Crystal Webcam needed too be configured.


Doing an lspci shows that the Acer Aspire 4710Z comes with a “Broadcom Corporation Dell Wireless 1390 WLAN Mini-PCI Card (rev 01)” wireless card. I had the two choice of configuring the wireless, a) Using a windows driver and ndiswrapper and b) Using the bcm43xx driver that comes with the kernel versoin 2.6.18 and above and the bcm43xx firmware. I went for the ndiswrapper solution but later on I configured the wireless with the other option as well with a never kernel version. But first the ndiswrapper configuration:

1. Install ndiswrapper:

  • sudo aptitude install ndiswrapper ndiswrapper-utils-1.9 wireless-tools
  • sudo aptitude install ndiswrapper-source module-assistant
  • sudo m-a prepare
  • sudo m-a a-i ndiswrapper
  • This compiles and installs ndiswrapper as a module in the kernel. To load ndiswrapper module: sudo modprobe ndiswrapper

2. Downloaded the windows wireless driver from the Dell site to a temprorary directory:

  • wget <url>

3. The exe file downloaded was a self extracting file. Unzip it with unzip:

  • unzip R115321.EXE

4. This unzips a lot of file in the working directory. The .inf file that we need is in the location DRIVER/bcmwl5.inf

5. Install the windows driver:

  • sudo ndiswrapper -i DRIVER/bcmwl5.inf

6. See if the installation went successfully:

ndiswrapper -l

The output should be something like this:

bcmwl5 driver installed, hardware (14E4:4324) present

7. Lastly, add “ndiswrapper” (without the quotes) in /etc/modules.

8. Do a iwconfig to see if there now is a interface with wireless extension. On my laptop the interface shows as wlan0

Later on I upgraded my kernel to 2.6.21-2-686 from Debian testing (Lenny) and I decided to configure wireless using the bcm43xx driver which works well with the new kernel:

  • Update /etc/apt/sources.list to point to Debian testing by adding the following line:

deb testing main

  • Install the new kernel:

sudo aptitude update && aptitude install linux-image-2.6.21-2-686

  • Install bcm43xx-fwcutter which is needed to extract the firmware:

sudo aptitude install bcm43xx-fwcutter

  • Download the zip file that has the file from which we can get the firmware and unzip it:


unzip (From this we get a file named bcmwl5.sys)


  • Extract the firmware from the sys file:

sudo bcm43xx-fwcutter -w /lib/firmware/ bcmwl5.sys

All the firmware file gets extracted to /lib/firmware/

  • Copy the firmware files (*.fw) to /lib/hotplug/firmware/ also:

sudo cp /lib/firmware/*.fw /lib/hotplug/firmware — Not sure whether this is needed or not …

  • modprobe bcm43xx and reboot the machine.



Acer Crystal Webcam
To configure the WebCam, we need the module uvcvideo

1. Install linux-uvc:


  • sudo aptitude install linux-uvc
  • sudo m-a auto-install linux-uvc
  • sudo modprobe uvcvideo

2. We need Video4Linux version 2 to make the webcam work:


  • sudo aptitude install libpt-plugins-v4l2

After the above configuration, the webcam works with ekiga but I could not get it to work with camorama and other webcam applications.



The bluetooth was auto detected. Just needed to install the package bluetooth.


One response to “Configuring Debian Etch on Acer Aspire 4710Z

  1. Thanks Tenzin I’d been trying to get bcm43xx working on Etch & having some right troubles. You were the first place I tried which suggested going for Lenny & it’s worked first time!

    Going to check out the rest of your blog now.

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