The problem with Linux and proprietary modules

A kernel upgrade (from 3.5.0-18 to 3.5.0-19) has just borked my two binary modules that I load.  The video card and the wireless network. So absolutely nothing to worry about there then. Just the two most important pieces of a modern Linux system.

The video card problem manifested by the window manager (compiz) crashing, so there were no title bars, the launcher had gone and the task panel was absent. Absolute PITA getting anything to run, and god help you if X decided that the window you wanted to type into just isn’t going to accept focus!

Firstly, after a kernel upgrade, one always needs the correct kernel headers to compile the wrappers for the modules:

apt-get install linux-headers-$(uname -r)

The wireless network card was taken care of by the following two commands:

/usr/bin/apt-get purge bcmwl-kernel-source broadcom-sta-common broadcom-sta-source
/usr/bin/apt-get install b43-fwcutter firmware-b43-installer

The ATI module was done by just running the ATI proprietary driver installer again (which I had lying about in my home directory).

All from a text-console, of course. I was lucky in that my laptop has both wired and wireless. If you’ve only got wireless network connectivity, you’ll need to download the .deb files that apt gets above and install them manually with dpkg.

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