Stephen Ostermiller's Blog

Resetting Wireless Networking on Ubuntu without Rebooting

The wireless network on my laptop has always been unreliable.  When I open the lid of the laptop and the computer wakes up from sleep, there is a 10% chance that the wireless network won't be able to connect.   In the past, the only thing that works in this situation is a full reboot of the laptop.

Symptoms include:

  • Wireless network can't connect
  • Applet indicator remains in "connecting" state
  • A dialog box periodically pops up for me to confirm the network password

I'd already tried:

  • Turning networking off and on using the checkbox on the applet
  • Disconnecting from my wireless network and re-selecting it
  • Using ifup and ifdown to reconnect
  • Restarting network manager

None of those actually worked.  It always took a reboot, but fortunately I finally found the solution.  You have dynamically remove the kernel module (driver) for the wireless network, then re-enable it.  After this procedure, my wireless network connects immediately.

To do that, I first needed to find out which kernel module powers my wireless.  The lshw command can do this:

sudo lshw -C network 2>&1 | grep wireless | grep driver

configuration: broadcast=yes driver=rtl8192ce driverversion=3.5.0-21-generic firmware=N/A ip= latency=0 link=yes multicast=yes wireless=IEEE 802.11bgn

Once I determined the driver (rtl8192ce), I just need to issue a command to unload the kernel module and reload it.

sudo modprobe -r rtl8192ce && sudo modprobe rtl8192ce

It works like a charm. Using this command, my network comes up immediately.

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