Saturday, December 3, 2011

Fixing disabled wireless on Lenovo Z360 running Ubuntu 10.10

Ok, this post isn't about chemistry at all. However, I'm going to defend it under the category of free software. Here is a short introduction to my problem. I have a Lenovo Z360 laptop running Ubuntu 10.10. It came with some Windows distribution (are they even called distributions? I haven't had a windows computer since 2004) which I never used. <sarcasm> Thanks to Lenovo, the laptop was set up with some proprietary driver software for my wireless network interface card (NIC). </sarcasm>

After installing Ubuntu 10.10 (AKA the perfect 10) everything was working fine ... until I one day pressed the "turn off wireless" buttons (Fn+F5) to save a tiny amount of battery power. This apparently bypasses the hardware "disable wireless switch" and switches off wireless via some built-in firmware. And since I wasn't using the proprietary drivers in Windows, there was no way to switch wireless back on. 

The tedious solution to my problem was to replace the solid-state drive I had put in myself for the original drive, and boot up in windows, switch on wireless using the proprietary driver software. 
Long story short, I have up until this day always been carrying the original harddive and a small screwdriver with me, in case I should accidentally turn off wifi, so I could perform the wireless-enabling surgical procedure.

However, today I stubled up a more permanent solution. I turns out, that the signal to turn off the wireless NIC is transmitted via pin #20. So to avoid ever turning off wireless you just have to tape over that particular pin - see the picture below. After five minutes of fiddling with tape, tweezers and scissors I managed cut a piece of tape small enough and put it precisely over the pin. 
And lo and behold - it's now impossible to disable the wireless NIC via switches or accidental key-presses!

Thanks to the guys over at for pointing this out! And thanks to Lenovo for this post possible by making hardware that just works out-of-the-box-until-it-doesn't-and-there's-no-way-to-switch-it-back-on-besides-software-only-written-for-one-particular-operating-system.


  1. øhm, how did you actually escape the "sarcasm" tags?

  2. Easily, the article is actually the best topic on this registry related issue. I fit in with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your next updates. Just saying thanks will not just be sufficient, for the fantasti c lucidity in your writing. I will instantly grab your rss feed to stay informed of any updates. pif00-12917

  3. Does this enable wi-fi back? Or this only makes impossible to switch it off?