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IBM ThinkPad T41/T42 Wireless Problem

Last response: in Windows XP
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July 9, 2011 5:18:33 AM

Here is my situation:

I have received 4 T41 and 1 T42 laptops from a MS authorized refurbisher. Upon initial boot, they boot like brand new out of the box machines. I set them up for our network and install software needed by our organization. On first setup, the Windows XP detected area wireless networks and I was able to connect them to our network wirelessly. After a few days however, when I try to list the available wireless networks I get "No wireless networks were found in range". The odd part is that they remain connected to the wireless network I connected them to when I set them up but to switch networks (say between work and home) is not possible because no wireless networks (even the one they connect to automatically) show in the wireless networks list. All 5 of them do this so, I can only assume this is some kind of problem with Windows XP or the laptop. I have tried the following to fix this situation to no avail:

1. Reinstalling the adapter driver with a more current version from both Intel and Lenovo. The Intel one says there is no compatible wireless device (though I downloaded and installed what they say to for a Intel PRO/Wireless 2200bg) and the Lenovo one says the driver I already have installed is more current though the dates on the download say otherwise).
2. Reinstalling XP SP3.
3. Trying the adapter drivers for every type of adapter the T41 ever came with thinking the wrong adapter type had been identified by the refurb company.
4. Installing various 3rd party wireless network management software (including IBM Access and LucidLink). They do not work properly for some reason.
5. Installing Microsoft Hotfix KB942288-v3-x86. This works briefly. I install it, restart the computer, the networks list fine, but then a day or two later they are gone again and I'm back to square one. Reinstalling the patch may or may not work again temporarily but does not provide any kind of lasting solution. I've done this by trying both just the patch and then trying the patch and reapplying SP3 after the patch. Neither works permanently.
6. I have tried installing an external USB wireless adapter and it does not work either. Same thing, says there are wireless networks available but when I click to list them the list says there are no networks in range.
7. Uninstalling the adapter and letting Windows reinstall it. It identifies it as a Intel PRO/Wireless 2200bg and installs a 12/2007 dated driver.
8. Making sure the wireless signal is on.
9. Disabling any power saving settings that may be putting the adapter to sleep.

I do not believe this is hardware related as the adapter works fine as far as connecting and picking up signal and other adapters do not work either. It is just that the software does not show the networks available.

Additional ideas from what I've already attempted would be greatly appreciated. It is not an option for me to replace these things for another 2-3 years and I'd really like to be able to give my employees something they can actually use on a portable basis outside our building.

I have had little success in finding someone else with this problem. I've been searching for a year for a solution and no one else seems to have this problem which I really find hard to believe since I have 5 of them that do this it can't be an anomaly to me and I can't believe I am the only person still using T41s/T42s out of likely thousands of them that were ever made.
July 9, 2011 5:34:33 AM

I have also noted the following message in the device properties when I click the Advanced tab. "Adapter state not found in registry." I don't recall having seen this message before during troubleshooting this problem but it could have been there and I just never checked the advanced tab before (it usually opens to that tab).
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July 13, 2011 4:16:12 AM

Eureka! I believe I have finally solved the problem (and if I haven't I'm pretty much out of things to try).

After looking at all I have tried and everything that has been suggested the thing that really stood out what that even a USB adapter would not work properly. This lead me to believe that there was a defective Windows file somewhere (which would also explain why all of the ones I have didn't work since they were all imaged from the same image).

I did a repair from an XP CD-ROM. However, because the the Windows Genuine Advantage software installed at one point in the past year during a Windows Update activating the copy of Windows was somewhat tricky. The solution to that was to upgrade IE to 8 on first boot after running the repair install of Windows. Once IE 8 was installed it was able to activate successfully. I then reinstalled SP3 (the CD of XP was only SP2).

So far, this seems to have taken care of the problem. With luck it will hold and all will be well.
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a b F Wireless
July 13, 2011 4:24:22 AM


I hope your problem doesn't return but I fear it may. I had exactly the same problem on a T41 recently and was about to change the chip with another from a breaker when I found it was easier to ditch the Intel software and leave Windows tin charge of the connection.

I only found this out after using a wireless dongle and disabling the onboard chip only to find the problem still existed and I couldn't get a valid IP. It had to be software and that Intel wireless utility was the only possible suspect.

Good luck with yours.


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July 13, 2011 4:40:37 AM

I don't use the Intel utility at all (it's not even installed). I let Windows manage the connections because my experience with 3rd party softwares has been that they don't connect to the network until after the user is completely logged on and the software loads as part of the startup for the user. In that case the user gets an error about not finding the domain and files we have syncing to our server don't sync. Windows loads the wireless connection sooner in the boot order so when the user logs onto the domain they get their roaming profile and their files sync properly.
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a b F Wireless
July 13, 2011 6:24:50 AM


You're quite right - I do the same for the same reasons. In my customer's T41 - which I hadn't set up or worked on before - both were running and apparently happily side-by-side but the Intel utility didn't show in the systray, only the Windows icon. I found the reference to Intel in msconfig when cutting down on StartUp entries and that made the wireless run properly but only after flushing the DNS and renewing all the adapters.

Matter of interest the wireless chip in that machine was a Cisco Aironet MP1350.

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July 15, 2011 5:16:35 AM

As the saga continues:

The answer turned out to be even simpler than what I thought.

Turns out that if SP3 is installed while anti-virus software is running entries my be made incorrectly to the registry which cause the available wireless networks list to disappear. There is a MS hotfix for it at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/953979 . It requires you to boot into safe mode, double click the fix file (needs to be extracted from the download first), and then you can reboot into normal mode and botta-bing, the network list is back. No need to reinstall Windows or anything. Reinstalling Windows worked on the first one I tried it on because I disabled the AV when it was downloading SP3 so it installed properly. But when I went to do the next one I forgot to do that and was very frustrated when I applied SP3 to it and the list disappeared again. However, that was the key I needed to find the solution so it all worked out in the end.

The fix opens a command window and closes it so fast you wonder if it really did anything but it does work. I feel dumb that it took me a year to figure this out, but I didn't really know the problem started after installing SP3 because by the time Windows Update did that the computers were with my users and I had no idea that updates had been run prior to the problem appearing. However, after reinstalling Windows and it working fine in the SP2 install and then not once SP3 was applied things started falling into place as to the problem. Hope this saves someone else a year of pulling their hair out.
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a b F Wireless
July 15, 2011 6:17:31 AM


I'm glad you sorted it but my hair is already torn. I'd refurbished that system for my friend and installed SP3 from a flash drive before installing MSE so her problem remained a problem but at least it's one that's fixed now.



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July 16, 2011 3:02:18 PM

The problem has taken on a new dimension after applying that fix. While I can now see wireless networks in the list, I cannot connect. I get an endless "Acquiring IP Address" loop. It is something in MS Windows XP SP3 that is doing this because when I uninstall that it works fine in SP2 and as soon as I install SP3 things go wrong. The most common advice people give is to get a update driver for the wireless card, however, it appears that the most recent driver for that is dated in 2007 and I have installed that and it does nothing to fix the problem. This is most frustrating as I need SP3 for other software that is used on these. There has got to be a way to make this work.
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July 27, 2011 3:49:07 AM

About the best answer right now is to uninstall SP3 or do a repair from a XP SP2 disc and not apply SP3. I cannot get it to work reliably in SP3. It might be fine on one machine with SP3 but another it may not work no matter what I do and I can't find any differences between the machines.
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a b F Wireless
July 27, 2011 11:42:03 AM



Running without SP3 leaves you pretty vulnerable. I'd be happy to pop this replacement wireless chip in the post if you think it's worth the trouble of taking the laptop apart to put it in. The manual you can find on the Net is quite clear on the matter. Does yours that same Cisco reference? The last time I fixed this has held up.


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July 28, 2011 1:14:00 PM

Please do post what the replacement chip is. I was hoping not to have to go that route as opening the thing requires almost complete disassembly of the laptop and the more you take apart the more likely it won't work when you put it back together.

I'm not sure what you mean by Cisco reference. The adapter I'm dealing with is an Intel PRO/Wireless 2200 b/g. I know that is the correct adapter as when I remove the wireless adapter from the device manager and let it get redetected that is what it detects as. I have seen a reference to Cisco Aironet in the Add/Remove Programs dialog but have wondered why it is there since I'm dealing with Intel chips. Maybe if I remove the Cisco reference they would work? Possible the refurb company installed all wireless drivers the T41 ever came with because they didn't know which one to use and having them all there is messing things up.

At this point, I'm grasping at straws and willing to do almost anything--even if it means tearing the things apart to put a new chip in. Worth noting though, once I install SP3 on these no wireless network adapter will work. I thought I would just install a USB wireless dongle or use a PCMCIA wireless card to get around the built-in not working and even those don't work under SP3 in these machines.
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a b F Wireless
July 28, 2011 4:24:40 PM

T41 and T42 models have issues with the wireless cards. The only true fix I found is to use a PCMCIA network card.

I usually see this as the device getting an error in device manager and never re-enabling properly, or the wireless cards only seeing some networks at random times. It would see 8 networks at boot, you try to connect, it flashes to 4 networks, then to 5, never gets an IP.

You can go into the BIOS, disable power management in the CPU, set it from auto or whatever it is set to to full for everything. I think there are a few of those options but I don't have any T41 or 42 models here right now. That enables the adapter to be enabled again properly, but it can still have issues with not seeing all the wireless networks in the area.

In short, if you have a T41 or 42 and start to have wireless issues, get an add-on card.
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July 28, 2011 4:32:36 PM

I haven no errors in the device manager and they re-enable ok.

My problem seems to not be the wireless card itself but how it interacts with SP3. Everything works fine until I install SP3 and then the wireless networks disappear from the available networks list. The adapter continues to work fine. It will still connect to the ones I've connected to before installing SP3 but none show in the list so I can't switch to a new network (one I have not connected to before) once SP3 is installed.

When I tried to use a USB wireless adapter after installing SP3 it would not work with Windows zero configuration utility, only worked with the utility included with the adapter, which I cannot use because it doesn't load until after the user logs in and then it will not connect to the domain when they are in house which causes problems as we use syncing.
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a b F Wireless
July 28, 2011 6:39:24 PM

Try using a PCMCIA wireless card. The issue with the wireless networks is the second part of the issues with these cards. Although I have not noticed it as symptom of having SP3 installed, as we use SP3 in all the OS images.
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July 28, 2011 7:22:32 PM

I do know our problem clearly relates to SP3 as if SP3 is installed (either as part of an image or applied to an SP2 install) the available networks list disappears and when I uninstall SP3 (or repair Windows from an SP2 installation disc) the list returns. Under SP3 it still says there are networks available and will connect to ones that have previously been connected to, but the list remains empty. I'm going to try a PCMCIA card because at this point it is such a PITB that my users are going to curse my name if I give them the machines as they are.
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July 31, 2011 4:25:01 AM

When I use a PCMCIA card I get the same results as the internal card. It says there are networks available but when I click View Available Wireless Networks, there is nothing in the list. I would be if I uninstall SP3 the list would reappear. It is something with SP3. There is a supposed fix from MS because it says SP3 can cause a problem if it is installed with anti-virus running. However, it only works some of the time for me.

I do not know what is going on, but it is clearly related to SP3 and has nothing to do with the hardware. I have tried a USB wireless adapter, a PCMCIA wireless adapter, and the internal Intel PRO/Wireless adapter.

The only solution appears to be to uninstall SP3 and disable auto updates for Windows. I know this leaves them "vulnerable" (to what I'm not sure, Windows in any form appears to be quite "vulnerable" anyway) and that SP2 is no longer "supported" by MS, but at this point it is the only way I can get them to work.

hang-the-9 said:
Try using a PCMCIA wireless card. The issue with the wireless networks is the second part of the issues with these cards. Although I have not noticed it as symptom of having SP3 installed, as we use SP3 in all the OS images.

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a b F Wireless
August 1, 2011 1:50:48 PM

Should not be just SP3, we have SP3 on every system and all models are working fine. Check for brand of wireless card. I could not get ANY Linksys card working with our wireless properly, had to use the older Sisco branded ones. Try installing Windows, doing all updates, and then installing the wireless card and drivers.
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August 1, 2011 4:44:17 PM

I'm certain it is SP3. Every time I install SP3 they stop listing the wireless networks immediately upon installation (they still connect to the networks that were previously setup on them under SP2 but no networks are listed in the available networks list so obviously the adapter works). When I get them from the refurb place (imaged with SP3), it lists the networks the first time I start them, but after I connect to our network, power them down all the way and turn them on again the list is gone.

It happens with Linksys USB adapters and TrendNet PC card adapters as well as the internal card.
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a b F Wireless
August 1, 2011 5:49:42 PM



Do you not have your regular Networks saved as Preferred?

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August 1, 2011 10:05:25 PM

They automatically save as Preferred when I connect to them. The trouble is, I set them up at work for our wireless network there. Then I shut them down and the user takes it home to connect to their wireless at home. But the list of available networks won't appear for them to select their network from. The adapter is still working and even detects the networks (message pops up in lower right saying there are wireless networks available), but when the user clicks to see the available networks there are none in the list.

This is something with SP3, like I said. Everything works just swimmingly, but as soon as I install SP3 the list disappears and I can't get it back no matter what I do. Well, that's not true. I can get it back (sometimes) by installing one hotfix from MS but as soon as I power the laptop all the way down (shut down, not restart) and turn it back on the list is gone again.

The adapter works just fine. It will connect to networks that were connected in SP2 and are listed as preferred, but there is no list for connecting to new networks. Also, if you select to go in and change the order of preferred networks nothing appears in the preferred list even though it is connected to one of them. It is like the stuff is all there, I just can't see it which means I can't make any changes (i.e. to preferred order, security keys) or connect to new networks.
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a b F Wireless
August 2, 2011 6:20:00 AM



The only reason for no networks to be shown in the form is that the WZC Service isn't in charge of running the wireless network settings. Is there an Intel or other utility running instead of Windows WZC?


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August 2, 2011 2:49:48 PM

Not that I'm aware of. Unless there is a registry entry that is screwing things up. I configure them initially through WZC and when I power down (not just restart) the list is gone. I have deliberately uninstalled anything that might be an Intel utility for the wireless card. There is a ThinkVantage utility that controls many things on them but doesn't appear to control anything wireless except whether the wireless radio is on or off so I left that.
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a b F Wireless
August 2, 2011 6:16:07 PM



What wireless options - or possible ones - appear in the list of Services set to start automatically in msconfig? Is WZC running now or maybe something else has overarched it and caused it to stop?


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August 12, 2011 3:39:31 AM

I have given up. It is clearly a problem with SP3 as everything is fine before that but as soon as I install SP3 any wireless adapters that are installed stop displaying the list of available wireless networks and only connect to ones previously connected to and listed as preferred. I have rolled all the machines back to SP2, despite the "risks" and lack of MS "support" for SP2, and we'll just have to live with that.
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December 14, 2011 1:07:24 PM

wcstech said:
I have given up. It is clearly a problem with SP3 as everything is fine before that but as soon as I install SP3 any wireless adapters that are installed stop displaying the list of available wireless networks and only connect to ones previously connected to and listed as preferred. I have rolled all the machines back to SP2, despite the "risks" and lack of MS "support" for SP2, and we'll just have to live with that.



wcstech, I had exactly the same issue as you on my t42 for months [actually used a 3rd party wireless manager to get around it but was not happy with that]. Searched for a solution, found your thread, applied the fix from MS with no success. Finally in desperation [as I cannot roll this machine back to SP2] just removed all of the network devices from device manager, rebooted and BINGO it works fine....have you tried that?
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