Wake On LAN on Linux

A few months ago I set up my machine for multi-booting (currently set up with 3 OS installs) with the GRUB boot loader running things. I’m taking a guess based on the behaviour here, but this appears to mean:

  1. Windows installs don’t have any knowledge of other installs, boot options only show an single install
  2. Certain settings, in my case related to the network adapter, aren’t honoured as they would be on a single install/Windows boot loader managed setup

This shouldn’t cause many issues, as GRUB is widely used and documented, and pretty easy to administer.

However, following this change in my setup, I lost my Wake-On-LAN functionality, a real pain, as one of my installs acts as a Steam box and streams down to my living room.

Based on my assumptions above, I concluded I’d have to set up the Wake On LAN changes in my Linux install to get it working again. For most people, this is a relatively simple process. Have a Google for your specific distro, but the general theme, at least for Debian based distros seems to be the same as detailed on the Kodi wiki. If that works for you – congrats! You’re done.

For me, running sudo ethtool eth0 gave me everything but Wake On LAN information, which was not shown. Both “Supports Wake-on” and “Wake-on” were missing.

At this point, it’s probably best to note a few details of my setup:

  • Linux distro: Elementary OS (Freya) – quick, simple, Ubuntu based = all I need
    • That means the kernel version is pretty far behind: 3.19.xx (only supported by Canonical now)
  • Motherboard: MSI Z87-G45 GAMING
    • …which comes with…
  • Ethernet adapter: Killer e2200 Ethernet Controller

After a bit of digging, I found that, with my current setup, Linux was using the alx driver for my ethernet card which just happens to be a driver that had Wake-On-LAN support removed due to a bug some were experiencing. Major bummer.

In the linked bug thread above, an auto-installer for a patch to reintroduce this feature was uploaded. Better yet, the same contributor then detailed a step-by-step setup for this auto-installer. Unfortunately, this installer assumes a more up-to-date kernel is in use.

Here’s what I had to change to get things working for me:

  • Once you’ve extracted the tar.gz file in the linked bug thread above, open up the setup file, the $kv variable, set on line 3 caused me issues. A fix is mentioned in later in the bug thread, but for my unsupported kernel, I had to hard code the variable’s value.
    • One part of the script uses the $kv variable to clone the linux kernel via git, if your kernel isn’t listed, git won’t be able to continue. Check the wiki page or even the kernel versions available in the git repo to ensure your kernel version is there if you’re getting errors with git.
    • I ultimately chose to hard code $kv, adding kv='3.18' below line 3 and commenting line 3 out, it being the closest to my kernel version. I am yet to see any negative side-effects, and the installer worked correctly
  • The step-by-step list linked above does a good job, but it may be unclear what is ‘right’ or ‘successful’. Here’s my experience:
    • Run modinfo -n alx
      • A path was returned which didn’t look like either of the suggested cases. Mine was in a folder names ‘extras’ and the ‘alx.ko’ file was directly within it.
      • So long as the path doesn’t look like the default ‘kernel’ path, assume this was successful
    • After several attempts trying to go exactly to the letter of the contributors instructions, I used the path that was returned in the first step, that was there, so I proceeded to step 3
    • Run sudo rmmod alx && sudo insmod {insert the path returned in step 1}
      • This appeared to run successfully
    • Run sudo update-initramfs -u
      • My network dropped briefly, once it came back up sudo ethtool eth0 was showing Wake On LAN information – hurrah!

With this all seemingly working successfully, I then rebooted and tested the WOL functionality, which appears to be back again.


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Andrew Bridge

A student web developer with a keen interest in bringing function and form together as one to create a powerful, beautiful experience for users.

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