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Recently I’v had to change my setup a bit and rely on a wireless card instead of my beloved and most favored Ethernet. This was cause for some consternation because I use Windows 7 (64-bit) and Linux (Gentoo, 64-bit). This was not something I could just run out and buy; it needed to have research done.

Not only did I have to figure out what worked in Linux, the usual sore spot, I had to find something that would also work with the 64-bit version of Windows 7.

Eventually I decided on the Linksys WMP54G, since it was so widely available and supposedly had drivers for Linux built into the kernel now. I also assumed, wrongly, that since the card was still sold in so many places that Linksys would have thought to create new drivers for it. I was dead wrong.

Strangely, getting it working in Linux proved to be easy. I use the Genkernel setup for Gentoo so the driver was already built into the kernel. All I needed was the firmware and I was basically ready to go.

The Windows side, however, was a nightmare. I installed the drivers from the included CD, which was a mistake because those were for Windows XP 32-bit. Performance with this driver was so poor, it was unusable.

Windows then told me that it had a driver for the card so I let that install thinking that it would, at least, be a 64-bit driver for Windows 7. Performance improved, but not by much.

Finally, I went to the RALink (the people who make the chips on the card) and downloaded their Windows 7 64-bit drivers. Performance improved slightly but, really, the card is essentially unusable.

There are times when surfing the internet acts like the connection is being constantly cut even though there’s no indication that the signal is getting dropped. It’s all choppy and IM programs abort because they can’t see the server anymore.

On Linux, however, it works great. I have a decent signal and I never have a problem with it. At all.

So, if you have a Windows 7 desktop and you’re looking for a wireless card I can’t stress enough to stay away from the Linksys WMP54G. I’d actually recommend staying away from Linksys altogether. Windows 7 was no secret and Linksys has had plenty of time to create a driver for this card which, I might remind you, is available for sale nearly everywhere. But they obviously don’t really care if their customers upgrade their operating system.

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