Fix 'Wireless is disabled by hardware switch' on Dell-Laptop

If you are having problems connecting your Dell Laptop to a WiFi network and are seeing 'Wireless is disabled by hardware switch' in the network menu the following steps may be what you are looking for.

2 min read

The Cause:

One possible cause of this is if you have a network adapter that is used for both WiFi and Bluetooth, turning off the Bluetooth may disable the WiFi at the same time leaving you unable to connect to WiFi.

The Solution:

  1. First run these two commands in the terminal (Ctrl+Alt+t):

    rfkill unblock all
    rfkill list

    If the output of the last command is as below (with 'blocked no' for all adapters), the issue should be resolved.

    3: phy0: Wireless LAN
        Soft blocked: no
        Hard blocked: no
    20: dell-wifi: Wireless LAN
        Soft blocked: no
        Hard blocked: no
    21: dell-bluetooth: Bluetooth
        Soft blocked: no
        Hard blocked: no
    22: hci0: Bluetooth
        Soft blocked: no
        Hard blocked: no

    If instead the output has 'blocked yes' for any adapters, move on to the next step.

  2. Run the following command:

    sudo rmmod dell_laptop

    The output will be either blank or as below. If it is blank press the keyboard short-cut Fn+F2 and run it again as we want to see the following output.

    ERROR: Module dell_laptop does not exist in /proc/modules

    The following command should now unblock the network adapters.

    sudo modprobe dell-laptop

    To check the command worked you can run 'rfkill list' again to see the following output with 'blocked no' for all adapters.

    3: phy0: Wireless LAN
        Soft blocked: no
        Hard blocked: no
    20: dell-wifi: Wireless LAN
        Soft blocked: no
        Hard blocked: no
    21: dell-bluetooth: Bluetooth
        Soft blocked: no
        Hard blocked: no
    22: hci0: Bluetooth
        Soft blocked: no
        Hard blocked: no

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