I have installed Debian 11 on a Dell Precision M6600 laptop. The ISO I installed does not include the non-free firmwares. My goal is to only install firmware and drivers necessary to get my WiFi adapter running rather than go the route of installing the unofficial ISO which includes a larger bundle of non-free firmware.
First I confirmed that my WiFi adapter is supported by the iflwifi kernel driver. According to this wiki, my Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 is supported.
I also followed steps 1 & 2 of the instructions on the iwlwifi page under 'Installation' and added the 'contrib non-free' labels to /etc/apt/sources.list. My sources.list file now looks like this:
# See https://wiki.debian.org/SourcesList for more information. deb http://deb.debian.org/debian bullseye main contrib non-free deb-src http://deb.debian.org/debian bullseye main contrib non-free deb http://deb.debian.org/debian bullseye-updates main contrib non-free deb-src http://deb.debian.org/debian bullseye-updates main contrib non-free deb http://security.debian.org/debian-security/ bullseye-security main contrib non-free deb-src http://security.debian.org/debian-security/ bullseye-security main contrib non-free
However I wasn't able to simply install iwlwifi with apt because the machine had literally no internet connectivity at the time. Instead I downloaded the .deb file and installed it with
dpkg -I . I obtained the .deb file here.
Now that I'm looking at the list of included drivers though, it doesn't explicitly include the Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 like the overall iwlwifi page says it should. So maybe this is the issue.
Step three is confusing. It says to run this command:
modprobe -r iwlwifi ; modprobe iwlwifi
I can run everything left of the ; and I get no errors but also no outputs. If I run the command as written I get
bash: modprobe: command not found
After several restarts the WiFi adapter is still not recognized. What I am looking to see is a list of available wifi networks when I click the icon in the task bar. I see the list after installing various distros including Mint 20, latest Ubuntu, and also the unofficial Debian 11 ISO that includes non-free firmware. I tried the latter as a test to see if Debian 11 can recognize this wifi card at all, which it can.
But currently, clicking the icon in the task bar only lists the wired connection and shows it unplugged, which is correct. No wifi networks are shown.
I may end up re-installing the unofficial ISO and living with it, but one of the things that appeals to me about Debian over other distros is the strictness about FOSS. Not necessarily because I personally feel the need to be that strict, but because there is less bloat on the system after a fresh install. I like the idea of only having the drives and firmware that are needed by the hardware instead of having a big bundle of stuff that isn't present.
What step am I missing to get my wifi adapter running in Debian 11?