networking

Dell Wireless 1703 on Windows Server 2019

Recently at work I had to install this OS (with the Desktop Experience feature set) on a Dell XPS 8700. Windows was able to recognize everything properly and all components but the network adapter would show up in Device Manager. Tried the usual things to fix this:

  • Installing the driver from Dell; it would install but Windows would fail to make use of it.
  • Updating the driver using “Search automatically for updated driver software”. This would fail with Windows complaining about an issue with the INF.
  • Manually pick a driver from the filesystem. It would also fail with an error about the INF.

Looked at the INF file but there wasn’t anything in it that would make Windows Server just up and refuse to install the thing, and given there isn’t that much difference between Windows 10 and Windows Server the issue had to lie elsewhere.

There is one thing that Windows 10 does, however, and that’s automatically start WLAN services, since usually you’d see Windows Server be installed on enterprise hardware or have it connected to the network via Ethernet. Turns out Windows Server does not even install this feature on its own.

To install it:

  1. Click Start button.
  2. Type “Turn features on or off”.
  3. Click Next 4 times (Before you Begin, Installation Type, Server Selection (which defaults to the local server), and Features.
  4. On the Features selection list, scroll down to Wireless LAN Service and select it.
  5. Click Install and wait for the OS to do its thing.
  6. Reboot system. This is required for it all to work.

After the system comes back up the network adapter should be installed and enabled in Device Manager.

Ah, right… in addition to this it turns out the “Dell Update Application” totally does not work under this OS so you have to manually download and install all device drivers; this took me a couple of hours, so mind your clock.

You did good!

After two years…. it was time to retire my trusty Thinkpad T60 that I turned into a WiFi AP for my LAN. Its name is blackslab and it’s been with me for about 8 years now. She’s earned a nice long break.

Thinkpad T60

I had been running into a ton of issues lately:

  • There are way too many wireless networks around me. A quick look at the network selector on Windows has 11 networks in there. This was interfering with my gaming.
  • Debian is a fucking bitch to deal with these days. Systemd is polluting everything in it.
  • Network instability is a thing. After every reboot I had to manually bring the WAN interface up. It’s a thing and I just didn’t want to deal with it anymore.

So now I’m setting up FreeBSD on a small form factor PC to take its place. It’s not the cheapest when it comes to energy use but it should do the trick. In the interim I’ve got a cheap ASUS router running things since Windows ICS is so fucking unreliable; tried setting up FreeBSD through it and it was a slog.

Hopefully I’ll be able to stop banging my head against PF sometime in the next 12 hours so I can actually set the thing up as the main LAN controller.