I have a Thinkpad x120e with a BCM43224, Debian (Gnome) reports it as "unmanaged", and won't let me set it up.

It worked once, during the install, after an apt-get install broadcom-sta-dkms. Never worked again since an update and reboot.

Any thoughts about where I could go next to troubleshoot this one? Google is full of a history of outdated answers for old firmwares from when the Thinkpad was new. I'm having trouble figuring out how to get detailed messages out of the system for this one.

What does the "unmanaged" message mean in the drop down bar in Gnome? Why would the firmware load with a modprobe seemingly successfully and simply fail to bring up the adapter in ifconfig?


Judging by the question date I doubt you still wait for an answer, but I'd like to give a couple of general pointers:

  1. When having a hardware-related problem, always post the relevant dmesg output. Do a dmesg after your seemingly-working modprobe and check the last 10 or so lines for error messages (or just post them in your question).

  2. Judging by the contents of broadcom-sta-dkms it looks like a source package which builds a kernel module around a closed-source binary driver to make it compatible with your kernel. Perhaps a rebuild was required after a kernel update, but it didn't happen or failed for some reason. Again, dmesg output could indicate whether this is the case. You may want to make a clean update/upgrade to your system, then rebuild the driver manually, or remove and reinstall the package to force it to rebuild.

  3. Many wireless cards (and other devices) often require a firmware binary to operate properly, in addition to the driver. Yet again, dmesg would have been really helpful as it tells exactly which file is missing. The solution usually consist in installing the missing firmware files which are usually available in a package like firmware-linux-nonfree. In rare cases, you may need to find the file yourself and put it under /lib/firmware.

  4. An "unmanaged" network interface could mean that the interface is listed in /etc/network/interfaces, which are brought up at boot time and are not supposed to be managed by gnome-network-manager. It is usually advised NOT to list any wireless interfaces in this file, because they will often require user input in order to connect (select the appropriate WIFI network, enter the WIFI key) and may need to switch to a different WIFI network later on.

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