NOTE: this page is for archival only, see the note at the end of the page.

b43 and b43legacy

The b43 drivers (bcm43xx in mainline kernels, b43 and b43legacy in wireless-2.6 and 2.6.24 and later) are drivers for the 802.11 B/G family of wireless chips Broadcom produces.


All Broadcom chips require firmware that is loaded onto the wireless chip before it can operate. See below.

There are also USB devices based on Broadcom chips, these are not supported at all!


  • bcm4303 (802.11b-only chips)
  • bcm4306
    • all newer revisions supported (built after about Jan 2005)
    • old revisions partially supported. Lacks some features like hw-crypto.
  • bcm4311 rev 1 / bcm4312
  • bcm4318


  • The 802.11a part of the 4309 and 4312 is not supported.
  • bcm4311 rev 2
  • There is no support for any Draft 802.11n features.

available devices

Please see the device list.



  • Station mode
  • Access Point mode (although not tested very well).
  • Ad-Hoc (IBSS) mode
  • Monitor and Promisc mode.
  • "Monitor while operating" and multiple monitor interfaces.
  • In-Hardware traffic de/encryption (relieves your CPU).
  • LEDs to signal card state and traffic.
  • In-Hardware MAC address filter.
  • Probably something we forgot to add here.

not working yet

  • Interference mitigation.
  • Bluetooth coexistance (most code implemented, but untested)
  • Probably something else that's not listed under "Works".

device firmware

The Broadcom wireless chip needs software that runs on the wireless chip itself during operation. This software is called "firmware". Currently only Closed Source firmware is available that must be extracted from Broadcom's proprietary drivers. The driver files containing the officially supported b43 firmware are:

You must extract the firmware out of these proprietary driver files by using the "fwcutter" tool. There are currently two versions of the tool, bcm43xx-fwcutter for the bcm43xx/bcm43xx-mac80211 driver and b43-fwcutter for the new b43 and b43legacy drivers.

firmware installation

Because the firmware is copyrighted by Broadcom, no one is allowed to distribute it. To get such firmware on your system, you must download the driver from a legal distribution point, such as noted above. In addition, you must extract the firmware from that Broadcom driver and install it in the special directory for firmware - usually /lib/firmware. To accomplish this task, do the following:

1. Download the appropriate driver listed above. Note that b43 needs V4 firmware, b43legacy and bcm43xx need V3. For V4 firmware, you will also need to untar the downloaded file.

2. Install the appropriate version of the fwcutter software, either by installing the package using the method appropriate for your distro (YaST, apt-get, etc.), or by downloading and building from the links above. For b43 and b43legacy, you need b43-fwcutter. For bcm43xx, you need bcm43xx-fwcutter.

3. Extract the firmware by cd'ing to the directory containing the ".o" file, and using one or more of the following commands:

  • For bcm43xx: 'sudo bcm43xx-fwcutter -w /lib/firmware wl_apsta-'
    For b43legacy: 'sudo b43-fwcutter -w /lib/firmware wl_apsta-'
    For b43: 'sudo b43-fwcutter -w /lib/firmware wl_apsta-'

Please note that the firmware from the binary drivers is Copyrighted by Broadcom Corporation and must not be redistributed.

related tools

  • bcm43xx-sprom

    • A tool for the modification of the Broadcom Sonics Silicon Backplane SPROM (e.g. you can permanently change the MAC address or the PCI IDs of your wireless card – useful on some (e.g. Compaq/HP) laptops where the BIOS checks these at boot.

external links

This is a static dump of the old wiki, taken after locking it in January 2015. The new wiki is at
versions of this page: last, v385, v384, v383, v382, v381, v380, v379, v378, v377, v376, v375, v374, v373, v372, v371, v370, v369, v368, v367, v366, v365, v364, v363, v362, v361, v360, v359, v358, v357, v356, v355, v354, v353, v352, v351, v350, v349, v348, v347, v346, v345, v344, v343, v342, v341, v340, v339, v338, v337, v336, v335, v334, v333, v332, v331, v330, v329, v328, v327, v326, v325, v324, v323, v322, v321, v320, v319, v318, v317, v316, v315, v314, v313, v312, v311, v310, v309, v308, v307, v306, v305, v304, v303, v302, v301, v300, v299, v298, v297, v296, v295, v294, v293, v292, v291, v290, v289, v288, v287, v286, v285, v284, v283, v282, v281, v280, v279, v278, v277, v276, v275, v274, v273, v272, v271, v270, v269, v268, v267, v266, v265, v264, v263, v262, v261, v260, v259, v258, v257, v256, v255, v254, v253, v252, v251, v250, v249, v248, v247, v246, v245, v244, v243, v242, v241, v240, v239, v238, v237, v236, v235, v234, v233, v232, v231, v230, v229, v228, v227, v226, v225, v224, v223, v222, v221, v220, v219, v218, v217, v216, v215, v214, v213, v212, v211, v210, v209, v208, v207, v206, v205, v204, v203, v202, v201, v200, v199, v198, v197, v196, v195, v194, v193, v192, v191, v190, v189, v188, v187, v186, v185, v184, v183, v182, v181, v180, v179, v178, v177, v176, v175, v174, v173, v172, v171, v170, v169, v168, v167, v166, v165, v164, v163, v162, v161, v160, v159, v158, v157, v156, v155, v154, v153, v152, v151, v150, v149, v148, v147, v146, v145, v144, v143, v142, v141, v140, v139, v138, v137, v136, v135, v134, v133, v132, v131, v130, v129, v128, v127, v126, v125, v124, v123, v122, v121, v120, v119, v118, v117, v116, v115, v114, v113, v112, v111, v110, v109, v108, v107, v106, v105, v104, v103, v102, v101, v100, v99, v98, v97, v96, v95, v94, v93, v92, v91, v90, v89, v88, v87, v86, v85, v84, v83, v82, v81, v80, v79, v78, v77, v76, v75, v74, v73, v72, v71, v70, v69, v68, v67, v66, v65, v64, v63, v62, v61, v60, v59, v58, v57, v56, v55, v54, v53, v52, v51, v50, v49, v48, v47, v46, v45, v44, v43, v42, v41, v40, v39, v38, v37, v36, v35, v34, v33, v32, v31, v30, v29, v28, v27, v26, v25, v24, v23, v22, v21, v20, v19, v18, v17, v16, v15, v14, v13, v12, v11, v10, v9, v8, v7, v6, v5, v4, v3, v2, v1