Alder Lake-N mini PCs based on Processor N95, N100, and Core i3-N300/N305 SoCs are pretty popular these days due to their good performance/price proposition, and when Ian reviewed the Beelink EQ12 mini PC with an Intel N100, he seemed pretty happy about it, except the WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2 AX101 module was not recognized in Ubuntu and other Linux distributions.
It’s not an isolated issue, as one person commented WiFi 6 and Bluetooth were not working in Linux on a Beelink mini PC with the N100 in an article about the T9 Plus, and I found out many people complained about the lack of Linux drivers for the AX101 on Intel community forums. They also left various solutions some of which work, some don’t.
If you are using Ubuntu or Debian, the easiest way seems to update the kernel to the latest Linux 6.4 as follows:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:cappelikan/ppa
sudo apt update && sudo apt full-upgrade
sudo apt install mainline
This will install the latest iwlwifi driver with support for the AX101 module. Ian kindly tested this on the Beelink EQ12 mini PC using a respun LiveUSB ISO with Linux 6.4, and the latest intel-microcode and linux-firmware packages. And it works, but only sort of… He could only connect to a 5GHz WiFi-5 (802.11ac) network and had to disable 802.11ax to make it work. The download and upload speeds at 2.4 GHz are averaging 59.3 Mbps and 41.9 Mbps respectively, and as one would expect, the 5 GHz is faster at 335 Mbps (DL) and 193 Mbps (UL). For reference, he can reach over 600 Mbps with some higher-end mini PCs with 802.11ax enabled in the same location.
So the good news is that WiFi can work on Alder Lake mini PCs with an AX101 wireless module, but it’s still far from ideal. Ian also successfully tested Bluetooth after creating symlinks to “ibt-1040-1050.ddc” and “ibt-1040-1050.sfi”:
sudo ln -s ibt-1040-4150.ddc ibt-0040-1050.ddc
sudo ln -s ibt-1040-4150.sfi ibt-0040-1050.sfi
Hopefully, the latest iwlwifi drivers will further improve support for AX101 WiFi and Bluetooth module and will be officially released on the Intel website (Note the AX101 is currently missing). Linux 6.5 may ship with an updated version, meaning it may be good revisiting the issue around the end of August when the latest kernel is expected to be released, besides monitoring the Intel website for new drivers…
Updated: We have updated the post after Ian did further WiFi testing and confirmed Bluetooth works after adding the symlinks.
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.