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Review of Linux Compatibility
TP-Link sells different versions of his USB wireless stick with the name TP-Link TL-WN821N. Three versions were already identified, each one using a different chipsets. Fortunately all versions are fully supported by Linux.
Version 1: 0CF3:1002
The older version bases on the Atheros AR-9170 chipset and has the USB ID 0CF3:1002 and is fully supported by Linux since Ubuntu 11.04 (kernel version 2.6.39).
Version 2: 0cf3:7015
The second version (product name TL-WN821N-v3.1, USB ID 0cf3:7015) uses the Atheros HTC chipset and is fully supported by Linux since Ubuntu 11.04 (kernel version 2.6.39).
This version uses the kernel module ath9k_htc. The stick is recognized in the following way by lsusb:
USB: 0CF3:7015 Atheros Communications, Inc. TP-Link TL-WN821N v3 802.11n [Atheros AR7010+AR9287]
This version of the stick needs additional firmware which can be installed under Debian by the follwing command:
aptitude update && aptitude install firmware-atheros
The firmware for the AR9170 chipset can be found at:
Version 3: 0BDA:8178
A third version was recently identified with the USB ID 0bda:8178:
Bus 003 Device 016: ID 0bda:8178 Realtek Semiconductor Corp.
This stick uses the RTL8188C_8192C chipset, which is supported by the rtl8192cu kernel module. This version of the TL-WN821N is automatically supported by Linux and was tested under Ubuntu 12.04 with kernel 3.2.0-57-generic-pae.