Wifi On Ubuntu: Installing Broadcom Drivers

Atheros and Broadcom are the two most popular manufacturers of Wifi cards. However, support for using Wifi with them is not present out of the box in Ubuntu Linux.

I had covered installing Wifi on Ubuntu for Atheros Wifi cards earlier in this post.


To install Wifi for Broadcom on Ubuntu, follow the steps below.

If you have a working Internet connection of any form, other than the non-functional Wifi, you can select to install the package named b43-fwcutter, which will do the Wifi driver installation along with the installation of the package itself. Your Wifi should work fine after a restart.

If you  do not have a working Internet connection, then download these two files [ wl_apsta and broadcom-wl ].

Now, open a terminal and install the driver with the commands,

sudo b43-fwcutter -w /lib/firmware wl_apsta-
tar xfvj broadcom-wl-
sudo b43-fwcutter --unsupported -w /lib/firmware broadcom-wl-

Finally, restart your computer to verify if the Wifi is installed.

Published by

Chinmoy Kanjilal

Chinmoy Kanjilal is a FOSS enthusiast and evangelist. He is passionate about Android. Security exploits turn him on and he loves to tinker with computer networks. You can connect with him on Twitter @ckandroid.

  • mike

    Downloaded files as per instructions via other pc, copied them to desktop, but commands as per instructions above failed with message “cannot open input file” . Tried to copy files into /lib/firmware but permission denied. I’m a frustrated new user and have spent 4 hrs now trying to get wifi to work. Any help appreciated.

  • mike

    Aha, Looked at earlier post re Atheros cards and put my downloads into my Home folder. Commands 1 and 2 worked fine. Command 3 failed until i realised the instructions were truncated in my pc view, losing the at the end. Got the complete instruction with View/page-source! Used corrected instruction and all went well. WIFI now working. :o) My thanks to Chinmoy Kanjilal !!!

  • Thanks mike. Sorry for the trouble.

  • I have an error at step 2:
    It is possible that the compressed file(s) have become corrupted.
    You can use the -tvv option to test integrity of such files.

  • Hi,

    This worked for me:

    – Just after installing Ubuntu 9.10, make sure you use a WIRED internet connection ( using your onboard NIC , not wireless obviously since it doesn't work )
    – Issue a "sudo apt-get update" on the terminal to update all the drivers etc.
    – Then go to System -> Administration -> Hardware Drivers
    And select the Broadcom Wireless STA Driver and click Activate.

  • sam

    thnk u very much

  • raghavendra

    where can i download brodcom b43 driver for free pls help me

  • praveen


  • allyn

    command 1 results with “sudo: b43-fwcutter: command not found”

  • isaac

    Cant install…when i execute the first command it says cannot opne input file wl_apsta….. i have downloades those but i dont know where i must allocate them to work….

    i need the wifi ti work.. else i will go bact to windows :(

    • Oswaldo

      Hi. In this video shows how to install drivers (if you have the driver of course) with ndiswarrper:

      And in this page says how to install wifi directly with b43-fwcutter:
      https://help.ubuntu.com/community/WifiDocs/Driver/bcm43xx#Identifying Your Card/Driver
      If you dont have Internet access go to other PC with Internet and download this files:
      1.- ndistgtk_0.8.5-1_i386.deb, doble click like the video shows (with the driver in your directory)

      If you dont have the diver then:
      2.- get this two files: a) wl_apsta-
      b) broadcom-wl-

      In this page are the links and the instructions:

      3.- This two files should be at /home/administrator user or you local directory.

      4.- open a terminal and write this lines:
      ~$ tar xfvj broadcom-wl-
      ~$ sudo b43-fwcutter -w /lib/firmware wl_apsta-
      ~$ sudo b43-fwcutter –unsupported -w /lib/firmware broadcom-wl-

      If there’s no problems then …

      5.- The Step 4. from WifiDocsDriver says:
      Under the desktop menu System > Administration > Hardware/Additional Drivers, the b43 drivers can be activated for use.

      If you cant activate the wifi try to install the packages form Live CD, install the drivers from
      and some other files that you need.
      Get the CD with UBUNTU, open the carpets and search all packages you need.

  • paybak

    Just download the WINDOWS drivers from http://www.broadcom.com/support/ethernet_nic/downloaddrivers.php
    An use ndswrapper, selecting the .inf file.

  • khle

    Title is misleading. It’s working for OpenSuse also. Just installed OpenSuse on old Dell Latitude D430 and made it work thanks to this. Great.