I pulled out this old (circa 2001) Dell C600 laptop today to play around and do updates. Wireless connectivity was completely degraded; signal strength showed 1%, and pages wouldn't load. Between now and the last time I had this thing out I had a router fail; I replaced the router, rebuilt my LAN, and bumped my wireless encryption to WPA2 from the old WEP setup I used to have. With the old WEP connection, this old beater worked fine. After running into this diffuculty today, I set up the Guest network that my new router makes available, left it unencrypted (but hiding the SSID), and wireless connectivity is now good and strong. That's fine and dandy for here in my home, but if this thing were to have any usefulness anyplace else it needs to be able to use WPA2 encryption.
The wireless adapter in this thing is an equally old Realtek PCMCIA card. I suspect WPA2 encryption is beyond it's capabilities. I do, however, have a nearly new Linksys AE1200 USB adapter in my collection of miscellaneous stuff, so I gave it a shot. It's not even detected. My guess is that it requires USB2 (says so on the box), and I believe this old machine only has USB1.
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00:07.2 USB controller: Intel Corporation 82371AB/EB/MB PIIX4 USB (rev 01)
I'm open to thoughts or suggestions. This old beater is not worth putting much time or any money into, but if it no longer can connect wirelessly using today's standard level of encryption, then its usefulness has probably, finally come to an end. That would be a pity.