Need help: Wi-Fi is very slow or limited on 2011 MacBook Air, blocking updates and Flatpak

Hey! I’ve got a 2011 MacBook Air here. It’s got a brand spanking new SSD, and I was able to successfully install both the GNOME and Plasma Atomic desktops. It seems all the hardware is working. I got Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, functioning sleep/wake, action keys, keyboard/touchpad, etc!

However, both had one problem in common: RPM-Ostree refuses to update. On GNOME, I actually cannot even install Flatpak apps at all, and any form of GUI package management seems to be unobtanium. Even removing packages was finnicky.

Atomic Plasma is better off, as I can install Flatpak apps, It’s just really slow. That’s fine; I can be patient for an old computer. But, I am also unable to install RPM-Ostree updates via GUI here as well.

Truth be told, I’m sort of a noob when it comes to the new package manager, so maybe using the terminal would be better. However, it would defeat the whole purpose of using Ostree, which is to give it to a less technical user for use as a personal computer to squeeze the rest of the life out of this thing. Besides this hickup, everything is running smooth, animations, desktop effects, all are running just fine.

How might I fix this issue so that the laptop can more reliably manage packages? All help appreciated!

Note: I have also been unsuccessful in installing Flatpak apps on Plasma. It seems like the Wi-Fi might be intermittent, and works fine for a few seconds, before completely dropping off while still showing a strong connection. This includes both 2.4 and 5G networks.

Update: I got Ostree to update in the terminal. Must have gotten lucky. Flatpak times out, even in terminal.

Hello @triguy ,
I don’t think that you can dual boot the atomic versions very well.

To clarify, these were both separate installations. I am not attempting a dual boot.

Ah, okay my misunderstanding.
Yeah, networking issues will have a negative affect on the updates, and installing subsequent software. Is it a hardware issue with the wifi? Can you use a lan cable to see if copper is better?

Terminal maybe a little faster, but susspect it’s the wifi card that’s the problem.
Can you tell us what wifi chipset is in that machine?
if you don’t know install inxi and then issue this command

inxi -Nn

Broadcom pci:14e4-4353-106b-00e9 as used on many macBookAir models. LHDB reports that this chip worked in Fedora 39 back in December, so you may have encountered a regression with recent kernels or the Broadcom firmware.

A USB wifi adapter may be needed to get your system fully updated, and there is a good chance the problem will have been fixed. USB dongles for wifi, BT, or sound are often needed to work around problems with newer linux versions until they are fixed with updates. You can use the LHDB to search for a USB wifi device that works with linux. Avoid vendors who don’t tell you which chipset they use, as many low-end vendors sell multiple chipsets under the same model name.

LHDB can provide a list of linux probes for USB WiFi Devices.

1 Like

Broadcom BCM43224 802.11a/b/g/n (rev 01)

It works, stays connected and all, but just randomly drops speed down to 0. If it is basically not recieving any data, and I then open a browser, the browser will load, but the update will remain basically stuck. It’s like it’s at a connection level…?

Edit: Okay, so a browser tab initially takes forever to load, but eventually it’s like it “wakes up” the Wi-Fi, and it loads at the max speed of 2 Mb/s, and then the update starts to download… how weird! Maybe this chip is timing out after a connection has been established for so long? It seems that subsequent pings wake up the card… this is short lived, of course.

Edit 2: Building on this theory, if I ping multiple IPs at the same time, it seems to keep the network adapter busy enough to not fall asleep on the job somehow… wtf?!

Just to make sure there is no cache issue try resolvectl flush-caches before opening the browser. This’ll at least leave the caches clean to start with.

If you are using the default Fedora wl module you should try:

% dnf info broadcom-wl
Installed Packages
Name         : broadcom-wl
Version      :
Release      : 22.fc39
Architecture : noarch
Size         : 38 k
Source       : broadcom-wl-
Repository   : @System
From repo    : rpmfusion-nonfree
Summary      : Common files for Broadcom 802.11 STA driver
URL          :
License      : Redistributable, no modification permitted
Description  : This package contains the license, README.txt and configuration
             : files for the Broadcom 802.11 Linux STA Driver for WiFi, a Linux
             : device driver for use with Broadcom's BCM4311-, BCM4312-,
             : BCM4313-, BCM4321-, BCM4322-, BCM43142-, BCM43224-, BCM43225-,
             : BCM43227-, BCM43228-, BCM4331-, BCM4360 and -BCM4352- based
             : hardware.

My old iMac uses the broadcom-wl module, but most of the time it is using a wired connection. Here:

% modinfo wl
filename:       /lib/modules/6.7.9-200.fc39.x86_64/extra/wl/wl.ko.xz
license:        MIXED/Proprietary
rhelversion:    9.99
alias:          pci:v*d*sv*sd*bc02sc80i*
depends:        cfg80211
retpoline:      Y
name:           wl
vermagic:       6.7.9-200.fc39.x86_64 SMP preempt mod_unload
sig_id:         PKCS#7
signer:         imacf39-3505640483
sig_key:        55:AB:39:80:AE:B8:DB:5B:29:2D:FC:E8:F1:3A:C5:63:F7:15:24:B3
sig_hashalgo:   sha256
signature:      26:64:DE:6B:09:DF:1A:F0:E5:DA:FE:B3:2B:8C:B2:06:4A:AE:3F:45:
parm:           passivemode:int
parm:           wl_txq_thresh:int
parm:           oneonly:int
parm:           piomode:int
parm:           instance_base:int
parm:           nompc:int
parm:           intf_name:string

Note the extra location.

If your workaround using ping is enough to make the laptop usable, we can try to get details of your configuration. It is useful to provide the output of inxi -Fzxx
(as text using the </> button) to help others with similar hardware find your post with text searches.

You should make sure everything is fully updated in case the problem has already been fixed. For firmware, you can try fwupdmgr get-updates.

If you are dual booting macOS, upgrading to the last supported version may install more recent firmware that is likely to be what developers have.

If the problem persists after updating, you can use journalctl to look for relevant messages. journalctl collects massive amounts of data, so some effort is needed to find filters that capture the right messages. Start with journalctl -b -g '[ \t]wl'. This will provide the name of the wifi interface (here, I get kernel: wl 0000:03:00.0 wlp3s0: renamed from eth0 so journalctl -b -g wlp3s0 provides relevant entries.

I installed Broadcom-WL and it seems like that just fixed the issue right up! I’ve had no issues with updating the system, or installing Flatpak packages. No weird slowdowns. I didn’t even modprobe or do anything with systemd. Thanks for the suggestion!


So this is the solution then? Please mark ti as such since others may, and likely will search this topic looking for solution.