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I'm trying to get my fresh Raspbian installation to work with my Ralink RT5370 wireless adapter. The adapter itself seems fine - I tried it on a Windows machine to be sure it wasn't faulty hardware.

What I'm finding is one of several different scenarios occurs when the RT5370 is plugged in (if it's not plugged in, everything works fine):

  • typing any command at the terminal just hangs
  • I get a kernel panic (sometimes when booting, sometimes when attempting to execute something at the terminal)
  • I don't get a panic or hang, but the wifi doesn't work
  • the wifi works, at least for a while

When I actually manage to execute lsusb I get:

~ $ lsusb
Bus 001 Device 002: ID 0424:9514 Standard Microsystems Corp. 
Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 001 Device 003: ID 0424:ec00 Standard Microsystems Corp. 
Bus 001 Device 006: ID 148f:5370 Ralink Technology, Corp. RT5370 Wireless Adapter
Bus 001 Device 007: ID 04d9:1603 Holtek Semiconductor, Inc. Keyboard
Bus 001 Device 008: ID 046d:c52f Logitech, Inc. Wireless Mouse M305

And lsmod:

~ $ lsmod
Module                  Size  Used by
arc4                    1964  2 
rt2800usb              18970  0 
rt2800lib              81833  1 rt2800usb
rt2x00usb              12510  1 rt2800usb
rt2x00lib              48797  3 rt2x00usb,rt2800lib,rt2800usb
mac80211              557746  3 rt2x00lib,rt2x00usb,rt2800lib
cfg80211              471916  2 mac80211,rt2x00lib
crc_ccitt               1612  1 rt2800lib
rfkill                 22347  2 cfg80211
snd_bcm2835            21342  0 
snd_pcm                93100  1 snd_bcm2835
snd_seq                61097  0 
snd_seq_device          7209  1 snd_seq
snd_timer              23007  2 snd_pcm,snd_seq
snd                    67211  5 snd_bcm2835,snd_timer,snd_pcm,snd_seq,snd_seq_device
joydev                  9766  0 
evdev                  11000  4 
uio_pdrv_genirq         3666  0 
uio                     9897  1 uio_pdrv_genirq

And uname -a:

~ $ uname -a
Linux mypi 3.18.3+ #742 PREEMPT Mon Jan 26 18:27:18 GMT 2015 armv6l GNU/Linux

Finally, vcgencmd version:

~ $ /opt/vc/bin/vcgencmd version
Jan 26 2015 18:34:17 
Copyright (c) 2012 Broadcom
version cd981188ae8a3099aff40494b5489062831bd1ee (clean) (release)

I really don't know what to do about this. Can anyone help me figure this out?

  • can you try with the adaptor plugged into a powered USB hub? I had that problem until I got a better PSU for the Pi. – rob Jan 29 '15 at 10:18
  • @rob: even with a B+ model? I thought they had improved the power situation so that this wouldn't be an issue. Unfortunately, I don't have a hub. Would it help if I unplugged my keyboard and mouse? – me-- Jan 29 '15 at 10:25
  • Admittedly I did have the problem with a classic B, but I would still follow the standard power related diagnostic steps, such as unplug everything else and check the voltage across the test points with a multi meter. – rob Jan 29 '15 at 10:28
  • Looks to be definitely power related. I switched from my B+ to my A+ a couple of days ago (I was using my B+ just to make setting it up easier). I haven't had a single issue since. @rob, if you add an answer to that affect I'd be happy to accept it. – me-- Jan 31 '15 at 2:49
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Definitely sounds like power problems. I noted the same experience until I used a powered hub with one of my wifi adaptors on a model B.

There are number of things you can do including unplugging all other connectors to reduce power usage, obviously use a powered USB hub like I did(I am getting excellent results with a PiHUB). Test the power using the test points on the motherboard http://elinux.org/R-Pi_Troubleshooting#Troubleshooting_power_problems and there are also a number of very cheap USB charging meters designed to show how well a phone is charging off a USB port that display current and voltage when attached inline.

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Looks like there's non-free firmware that's supposed to go with that. "Non-free" here means it's licensed in a way that isn't compatible with certain Debian policies. So they put it in the non-free repo.

It may or may not be in the corresponding raspbian repo, you'll have to check by following the instructions in the link above -- you add non-free to the end of the line in /etc/apt/sources.list, apt-get update, and then you can check with apt-cache search firmware-ralink.

Beyond that, as rob points out, if this is not a + model it may be that the particular dongle is simply too hefty for the pi. At least one person here has reported the chipset as working. Note that arch uses the same kernel as raspbian so that is unlikely to be a factor.

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