I recently built up my second RaspBMC box and due to its location this one really has a need for wireless network connectivity. Taking a quick look on ebay this is actually a very cheap thing to achieve – indeed, a tiny USB wifi adapter at $4 (including postage) is cheaper than buying a network cable.
The one draw-back is that I have read many forums posts about people having issues with certain chipsets not being supported by RaspBMC out of the box. In particular was Realtek’s RTL8188CUS, which seems to be by far the most popular (if not completely ubiquitous) chip in these cheap usb wifi sticks. Most of the posts seemed to me to be a number of months old and in that time the RaspBMC project has come a long a lot in terms of updates. So, although I have not read anything to say that this problem has gone away, I thought I would commit the measly funds required to buy one regardless and see what would happen.
And so the point of this post… I have tried it with RC4 and the RTL8188CUS chipset works totally fine without the need to install any additional drivers. The Network Manager add-on was required, however, to get everything configured and connected. And it’s worth noting that if initial wired network connectivity is a problem there are some pre-built images available which come with this add-on already installed.
Hopefully this post will let others know that it appears that bog-standard ebay adapters are now fine after all and the search for less widely available chipsets is no longer required.