My goal was to find a USB WiFI adapter for Ubuntu Linux that would work right out of the box. I assumed this would be a trivial task, but it seems that few WiFI USB dongles play well with Linux.

I am sure that with enough time and research, you could probably get all of the cards below working in Linux (albeit with varying levels of reliability) via the right kernel module or properietary drivers.

However, my goal was to find a device that can connect immediately with no additional configuration.

Please note that I set a very low bar for the sake of this comparison. I was looking for any card that worked out of the box, and I did not examine speed or performance.

When I say “worked”, I mean that the card connected to my 2.4Ghz Wireless N network (running DD-WRT) and a few minutes of casual browsing or an apt-get full-upgrade seemed to work without issue.

NIC
Ubuntu 16.04.1
Ubuntu 16.04.2
Ubuntu 17.04
Yes
?
?
NIC
Ubuntu 16.04.1
Ubuntu 16.04.2
Ubuntu 17.04
Yes
Yes
No
NIC
Ubuntu 16.04.1
Ubuntu 16.04.2
Ubuntu 17.04
NIC
Ubuntu 16.04.1
Ubuntu 16.04.2
Ubuntu 17.04

Research

My quest for Ubuntu Linux compatible WiFi nics began with an Amazon search for “WiFi USB”. I was looking for cards that worked out of the box in Ubuntu Xenial 16.04.1.

Most cards had mixed reviews when it came to Ubuntu. Some reviews might say the dongle worked in Ubuntu out of the box, while others said the same product did not work.

I figured the easiest thing to do would be to buy a bunch of cards that seemed to have at least a couple reviews reporting that they worked in Ubuntu, and cross my fingers.

I did at least try to install linux drivers if they were provided on a CD, but I learned quickly that most of these drivers and their installation scripts are geared towards machines with 2.6 kernels, which seems silly for a consumer WiFi card in 2017.

ANEWKODI 600Mbps Dual Band

Verdict: No. This did not work out of the box

There was a CD included with the drivers, and it did contain instructions and software for linux, but they did not work for me.

As an aside, the Windows user manual on the CD was geared towards XP, which seems really odd for a modern WiFi NIC.

There were a number of documents on the CD for linux. Some were txt files, some were pdfs. I found a Quick_Start_Guide_for_Driver_Compilation_and_Installation.pdf, which seemed promising.

In this document, we introduce two ways to compile and install our Wi-Fi driver: 1) Using install.sh script for PC-Linux and 2) Step by step manually. The former targets for end users who are not familiar with Linux system, while the later for engineers who want to port our Wi-Fi driver onto different platforms.

For driver compilation and installation in PC-Linux, we provide an install.sh script to do the duties automatically. If you want to use our Wi-Fi solutions to access network on PC-Linux, you can just run install.sh script and then control Wi-Fi with utilities such as Network Manager.

I copied their linux dir to my Desktop, and ran the script as root. It choked on a compilation error. At this point I gave up on it. Too much effort with little promise of working.

TP-Link Archer T1U Wireless Nano USB Adapter (AC450)

Verdict: No. This did not work out of the box

There was a CD included, but no drivers. The Drivers for Linux.txt file on the CD simply said:

For Linux users, please visit the TP-LINK support website, find and download the compatible version of driver for your network adapter at www.tp-link.com.

I found the linux drivers and extracted them locally.

This linux install process at least had better documentation, but the install scripts were still geared towards an older machine, and the documentation was wrong. It said you can edit makefile.c to set compiation variables, but that file was not provided with the download.

Again, I ran into a compilation error, and so I gave up. This was too much effort with little promise of working.

Panda Wireless PAU06 300Mbps N USB Adapter

Verdict: Yes! This worked out of the box perfectly!

Panda 300Mbps Wireless N USB Adapter

Verdict: Yes! This worked out of the box perfectly!