16.04: issues with wireless on MacBook Pro

Paul Smith paul at mad-scientist.net
Fri Jul 1 03:15:40 UTC 2016

[[Hopefully this doesn't appear twice: I sent it over 28 hours ago but
it hasn't shown up yet... maybe a victim of network outage described

Hi all.  I have a MacBook Pro 9,2 and I've used reFind and installed
Ubuntu GNOME 16.04 (dual boot) on it.

For the most part everything works great, but there is one major issue:
the wireless.  As you may know this hardware uses a Broadcom wireless
card: mine is Broadcom Corporation BCM4331 802.11a/b/g/n (rev 02) FWIW.

My wireless actually works fine... for a short while.  Every 2-3
minutes or so, though, it seems to lose connection and, depending on
what I'm doing at the time, I'll either get an error that the hostname
cannot be resolved, or the host is not responding, or maybe it's just
slow but eventually succeeds.  I've tried setting my DNS server to but that didn't solve the problem.

The network comes back alive and my ssh sessions, VPN session, etc. are
not dropped, but nevertheless a network hang for 5-20s every few
minutes is not acceptable.

If I boot into OSX I have no problems with wireless.

These cards are highly proprietary and don't appear to have great free
driver support.  There is a proprietary driver from Broadcom but it's
not clear how good that support is.

If I open up Ubuntu's Drivers applet, it shows that I'm using the
proprietary driver and my only other option is "don't use this
hardware".  I was under the impression that there was a "b43" open
source driver but maybe it doesn't work with this card?  Anyway it's
not offered to me.

If I run iwevent I can see a message "Scan request completed" exactly
every 2 minutes.  I don't know if that's normal or not.  No other
messages are shown.  dmesg shows no messages since I booted.

I've looked at about a dozen different discussions of this hardware but
they all date to 2010/2012 or so.  Plus, these all seem to be related
to getting the wifi working initially, which is not a problem I have.

I wonder if anyone has any thoughts about how to move forward with this

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