Sunday, December 31, 2023

No More Realtek WiFi

The current Debian kernel (based on 6.1.66, after the ext4 corruption mess) seems to be locking up with the Realtek USB wireless drivers I use.  Anything that wants the IP address (like agetty or ip addr) hangs, as does shutdown.  It all works fine on the "old" kernel, which is the last version prior to the ext4 issue.

Meanwhile in Ubuntu 23.10, the in-kernel RTW drivers were flaky and bouncing the connection, so I had returned to morrownr’s driver there, as well.  But now that I don’t trust any version of this driver?  Forget this company.  In the future, I will be using any other option:

  1. A Fenvi PCIe WiFi card with an Intel chip on board, or the like
  2. Using an extra router as a wireless client/media bridge, with its Ethernet connected to the PC
  3. If USB were truly necessary, as opposed to simply “convenient,” a Mediatek adapter

Remember that speed testing and studying dmesg output led me to the conclusion that this chipset comes up in USB 2.0 mode, and even the Windows drivers just use it that way.  While morrownr’s driver offers the ability to switch it to USB 3.0 mode under Linux, this prevents it from being connected properly.  I never researched hard enough to find out if there is a way to make that work, short of warm rebooting again so that it is already in USB 3.0 mode.

It’s clearly deficient by design, and adding injury to insult, the drivers aren’t even stable.  Awful experience, one star ★☆☆☆☆, would not recommend. Intel or Mediatek are much better choices.

Addendum, 2024-01-13: I purchased an AX200-based Fenvi card, the FV-AXE3000Pro.  It seemed not to work at all.  In Windows it would fail to start with error code 10, and in Linux it would fail to load RT ucode with error -110.  And then, Linux would report hangs for thermald, and systemd would wait forever for it to shut down.  When the timer ran out at 1m30s, it would just kick up to 3m.

Embarrassingly enough, all problems were solved by plugging it into the correct PCIe slot.  Apparently, despite being physically compatible, graphics card slots (which already had the punch-outs on my case, um, punched out) are for graphics cards only.  (My desktop is sufficiently vintage that it has two PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, one with 16 lanes and one with 4 lanes, and two classic PCI slots between them.)

Result: my WiFi is 93% faster, matching the WAN rate as seen on the Ethernet side of the router.  Good riddance, Realtek!

No comments: