How can you make your AR242x 802.11abg Wireless PCI Express Adapter work with Debian Lenny ?

I have recently installed the latest stable Debian on a new Toshiba Satellite L300 – 251 laptop.

Until now, everything was running well except the wifi PCI card. This one is detected and the right module ath5k is loaded. Here is what lspci -k gives :

03:00.0 Ethernet controller: Atheros Communications Inc. AR242x 802.11abg Wireless PCI Express Adapter (rev 01)
Kernel driver in use: ath5k
Kernel modules: ath5k

Unfortunately, I was unable to see which wireless networks were around me. Each time I issued the command iwlist wlan0 scan, I received this error : wlan0  No scan results.

After looking at Debian official wiki, I did find the right solution to my problem : upgrading my current kernel to a more recent one.

In the official Debian repositories for the stable version, the most recent version for a kernel image is 2.6.26-2.  Fortunately, we can get a very recent kernel from the Debian backports repositories : 2.6.30-bpo.2

After issuing the following command apt-get install linux-image-2.6.30-bpo.2-686, you will have to reboot with this kernel. Otherwise, your problem will remain. The version of the ath5k module is much more recent than the one loaded by default after my initial Debian setup. Do not forget to possibly modify your Grub file to boot on the new installed kernel or to make it as the default one at boot time.

For more informations on this module :

ath5k module in Debian

Nota Bene : Last but not least, do not forget  to switch on your wifi card or you will get my initial error message !

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