“Fixing” WiFi 6 on Linux in Alder Lake-N mini PCs (Intel N95, N100, Core i3-N300…)

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.

Intel Processor N100 Beelink EQ12 mini PC WiFi 6 Linux errors (iwlwifi driver) EQ12 Linux no BLuetooth

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:


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”:


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.

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9 Comments
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Sander
Sander
7 months ago

So with the cappelikan ppa you install another kernel? Not provided by Ubuntu / Debian?

I have just ordered a N95 NUC, so I’ll check. That is: if I need Wifi on it.

Slackstick
Slackstick
7 months ago

I have got an Gk3 plus mini PC. Wifi doesn’t work. It’s realtek 8821ce. Blutooth works. LAN only works with r8168 driver and “r8168.aspm=0 r8168.eee_enable=0 pcie_aspm=off” kernel parameters.

David Willmore
David Willmore
7 months ago

This is kind of odd. Intel had been getting really good about keeping driver support for their wifi/BT devices up to date on linux since at least the 4965AGN. It was sort of hit or miss before then. I remember having a lot of issues with my PCMCIA 802.11a cards, but things got much better in the mini-PCI era.

Willy
7 months ago

ah the good old times of PCMCIA… I don’t miss it! 🙂

David Willmore
David Willmore
7 months ago

The prism2 cards were nice. The antennas sticking out the side of the laptop not so nice.

persondb
persondb
7 months ago

I have a Beelink N100 system that has one of those AX101, haven’t tested it with Linux yet.

One thing to note is that those aren’t standard PCIe Wifi/BT cards. They are proprietary intel stuff that only has the radio integrated in it, the MAC is in the PCH, this is called CNVio and that’s probably why it’s not really just plug and play as standard PCIe cards.

Parker
Parker
7 months ago

Yay! thank you. After 9 hours of trying I finally got wifi to work…. just like you said… (had to disable AX on my router)

Still not so lucky getting the bluetooth to work, any extra advice around that?

This Beelink is the mini pc i purchased
https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B0C1N5287T?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2ov_dt_b_product_details

Khadas VIM4 SBC