Earlier I had mentioned that I was a little concerned that the madwifi drivers were not being shipped with any SuSE products. I quickly found out why madwifi-ng wouldn’t be supported: it was very unreliable for me, especially when using it with NetworkManager, which enforces the use of wpa_supplicant. (This seems to be a known problem: http://live.gnome.org/NetworkManagerHardware )
I failed to get madwifi-old working, and quickly gave up on that (my wlan device could never associate with my accesspoint).
I then started scraping the web to find a chipset that had well supported drivers that were included a stock install of suse, worked with NetworkManager/wpa_supplicant, and supported wpa. That was a couple of frustrating hours :) I was seriously ready to go buy another card but it seemed the best chipset choices were in cards that were no longer in production. Plus, I had two perfectly working atheros cards… this was getting ridiculous.
Then it dawned on me: why not try using ndiswrapper with my cards? I hadn’t had much luck with ndiswrapper a couple of years ago but now I was starting to get desparate.
Turned out that my pcmcia atheros card worked pretty well with my Dell c600. Not real convenient that I had to go find the exact driver from my vendor (opposed to just using one linux driver), but hey, at least it works and I don’t have to go buy another card. I later found out that there’s an opensuse wiki page suggesting this same solution: Atheros_ndiswrapper.
Then I tried the ndiswrapper driver on my t42p ibm laptop, which has builtin atheros. This sorta worked, but I would get disconnected every couple of minutes. This wasn’t much better than my situation with madwifi-ng.
I realized I needed to find out why the madwifi-old driver wasn’t working since this driver worked flawlessly on Ubuntu for months and months and months.
Turns out the solution was this: I got the madwifi-old driver working, but this required that wpa_supplicant needed to be compiled with the headers from madwifi-old, not madwifi-ng. Now, I’ve finally been using rock solid wireless using wpa with networkmanager on suse 10.1 without any problems.
Update: Packman packages the madwifi kmp kernel package. This package (along with the stock wpa_supplicant) works wonderfully! Not sure what I did wrong in trying madwifi-ng, but I’m glad that this solution works really well.