rtl8822be wifi/bluetooth adapter: current support state

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brainchild
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rtl8822be wifi/bluetooth adapter: current support state

Post by brainchild » Sat Mar 16, 2019 5:10 am

I am deeply puzzled by conflicting and incomplete information on the state of support for the RTL8822BE chipset, which is the WiFi and Bluetooh adapter that ships with my Lenovo Ideapad 530s, on which I am running Mint 19.1.

Forums across the web are scattered with reports about this adapter not being detected by Linux, which I have not experienced, and about this adapter not performing reliably with Linux, in particular, spontaneously dropping connections, in many cases as often as once every few minutes, which I have experienced, and which experience has led me to investigate the topic.

Many users reporting either of these issues, complete lack of support, or intermittent failure, also report success after installing and building one of any number of repositories of a codebase called rtlwifi-next. All the repositories appear to have a common ancestor, but some have recent commits, and others have been inactive for years. Some compile with current kernels, some only with older ones. None have any documentation or information about the developer or history of the project.

One report appears on this forum, and is now only a few days old.

Many different questions follow from these observations:
  • Who is maintaining these various versions of the same earlier project?
  • Why are there so many forks?
  • Why is the one chosen to ship with Mint not the one that is the most stable among those available?
  • Should I use a driver built from one of these repositories?
  • Which one?
  • How can I install a build on my system such that I can restore the version shipped with Mint, if necessary?
All helpful information is greatly appreciated.

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Pjotr
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Re: rtl8822be wifi/bluetooth adapter: current support state

Post by Pjotr » Sat Mar 16, 2019 5:35 am

brainchild wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 5:10 am
One report appears on this forum, and is now only a few days old.
Do what JeremyB advised in that topic (which means installing another driver than the one that's present by default in the Linux kernel), and you should be fine. :wink:
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brainchild
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Re: rtl8822be wifi/bluetooth adapter: current support state

Post by brainchild » Sun Mar 17, 2019 8:01 am

I am glad that you are confident that this procedure will help me.

But I have considerable confusion, and at an absolute minimum, I feel that I first need to understand a) how I can restore to the previous driver if the situation becomes worse after installing the new one, and b) whether the installation would need to be repeated, if it works, at any time, such as after kernel upgrades or distribution upgrades.

Thanks for your assistance.

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Re: rtl8822be wifi/bluetooth adapter: current support state

Post by brainchild » Thu Mar 21, 2019 6:19 am

If someone would offer more information, it would surely help me.

I appreciate that Pjotr took the time to respond.

Yet answers that simply point to a procedure convey confidence more than information.

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Re: Wi-Fi dropping out, driver mystery

Post by brainchild » Thu Mar 28, 2019 5:05 pm

I have the same chipset, and have experienced similar problems.

I appreciate the responses provided so far in this thread.

However, I have not yet updated the driver as suggested.

I am finding that the reports in this thread and many others open as many questions as they seek to resolve. One noticeable issue is that many different forks can be found of the project called rtlwifi-next, though none identify a maintainer or reason for the fork having been created.

Would anyone help clarify some important issues?:
  • Who is maintaining these various forks of the same earlier project, and why are there so many?
  • Why is the one chosen to ship with Mint not the one that is the most stable among those available?
  • How can I install a build on my system such that I can restore the version shipped with Mint, if necessary?
  • Will I need to reinstall this driver at various times, such as after kernel or distribution upgrades?

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Re: Wi-Fi dropping out, driver mystery

Post by JeremyB » Thu Mar 28, 2019 5:26 pm

Usually the best rtlwifi_new is the one by lwfinger as he is a kernel developer. People do forks for many reasons, sometimes it is to add devices to a driver, add dkms support to a driver, or to make fixes. Then you push changes from your fork to the origin and see if they are accepted.

If you use dkms to install a driver it will build a new version for new kernels as long as the code doesn't change a lot in the kernel. If you have kernel 4.15 and the dkms works, installing a 5.0 kernel might not work unless the source code is patched to support changes from 4.15 to 5.0

The actual rtl8723be drivers worked fine in the Ubuntu 4.15 kernels up until 4.15.0-33? A commit was added from the Linux kernel that broke the antenna selection and that is the only reason people with HP laptops with rtl8723be cards need to use rtlwifi_new from github. If HP had put 2 antennas on those wifi cards rather than just 1, this would not be an issue

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Re: Wi-Fi dropping out, driver mystery

Post by brainchild » Thu Mar 28, 2019 8:12 pm

So if I understand correctly:
  • The binaries used by the distribution are maintained by lwfinger, but
  • Some time in the past the kernel has changed such that these drivers load but suffer from erratic behavior, so
  • Other developers have forked the repository and created their own solutions to this problem, but
  • The lwfinger repository has yet to pull these changes upstream, so
  • The binaries used by the distribution are not necessarily the most stable for this chipset, therefore
  • Users are being advised to use the dkms add feature, which instructs new drivers to be built against source each time the kernel is updated, which
  • Is effective as long as the kernel source is stable enough that the build does not break, in which case
  • Users will experience some bad thing (what?)
And if lwfinger finally pulls the fixes then the dkms solution will be unnecessary and users can revert to the distribution drivers? How do they know when this happens? And, how do they revert to distribution builds in the case that the dkms solution becomes unnecessary, or stops working, or is found not to work ever?

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Re: Wi-Fi dropping out, driver mystery

Post by brainchild » Mon Apr 01, 2019 7:14 pm

It would be useful is someone could help make sure I correctly compiled the various details, and help me to resolve the few remaining questions. I appreciate the assistance.

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Re: Wi-Fi dropping out, driver mystery

Post by brainchild » Wed Apr 03, 2019 3:36 pm

It is nice to get the helpful information, but also frustrating when trying simply to resolve a few loose ends and not being able to get those final responses.

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Re: rtl8822be wifi/bluetooth adapter: current support state

Post by JeremyB » Wed Apr 03, 2019 6:30 pm

Split from another topic for threadjacking

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Re: rtl8822be wifi/bluetooth adapter: current support state

Post by brainchild » Thu Apr 04, 2019 9:39 am

I posted to an existing thread after noticing that it was active, and that this one, which I started previously, was near to silent.

I would like to use this forum following agreed guidelines, but I am finding it difficult to do so, because it seems very arbitrary where and how to have the a successful discussion.

So now we are back to exactly where we started: on topic, but without activity.

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Re: rtl8822be wifi/bluetooth adapter: current support state

Post by Pjotr » Thu Apr 04, 2019 11:58 am

How about just installing the rtlwifi_new driver recommended to you, and simply living happily ever after? :mrgreen:

Why all these questions, questions, questions, and questions again? This is a mutual support forum, not a university. Forum helpers are usually here to help people to solve practical problems, not to act as university professors theorizing away at college. :wink:
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Re: rtl8822be wifi/bluetooth adapter: current support state

Post by brainchild » Thu Apr 04, 2019 1:52 pm

Optimism is good; information is better.

It would seem plain that not every attempt to repair a computer system leads directly to "happily ever after".

Understanding how to reverse the change is a minimal essential detail. If my system does not function with network access after the change, then I am forced either to rebuld my system, or to wait days or weeks to request and to get information about how to reverse the change. Hardly "happily ever after". I wish that the best case were always the only possible case, don't you?

A large number of other users are struggling with problems relating to Linux support for this chipset, but when they seek help, they are met by vague and inconsistent answers. Such a situation is serving no one well. A single thread that addresses the entire issue would be extremely helpful to all. I politely, but forcefully, question the assessment that the way I am using the forum more nearly resembles an academic discussion than it addresses a practical problem.

Many threads on this forum involve an experienced user working with a questioner over many iterations to troubleshoot a particular problem. Such a discussions helps the questioner, and may in some cases later help another user. But information that is more general, as well as accurate and complete, quickly and efficiently helps a large number of users.

Why ask questions in a forum? I'm sorry to say it, but the question seems absurd. Asking questions, as well as exchanging information, is the purpose of a forum. And creating one cogent and substantive discussion is more useful and less taxing than echoing the same mantra a hundred times by a hundred voices.

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Re: rtl8822be wifi/bluetooth adapter: current support state

Post by brainchild » Sat Apr 13, 2019 5:43 pm

I wish to provide a short update. In past days I have had much better experiences. During several days of rigorous use of the system, I have had only one drop, compared to earlier rates of up to several each hour.

This improvement coincides with upgrading to kernel version 4.18.0-17, from -16. Does anyone have similar experience, or have particular knowledge that might concord with the speculation that the new kernel works much better with this hardware?

I also notice that the system overall seems to work better. For as long as I have run Linux on this system, I have noticed intermittent periods of jerky response from the graphical layer. It was very annoying, and I have never discovered the cause. I began to suspect the network driver, however, when I noticed that the effect is often worse during periods of background file transfers.

My optimism is cautious. When an effect has a strong random component, then validating a change takes time, and judgments often suffer from bias.

Any information is useful.
Last edited by brainchild on Sat Apr 13, 2019 7:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: rtl8822be wifi/bluetooth adapter: current support state

Post by Pjotr » Sat Apr 13, 2019 5:57 pm

brainchild wrote:
Sat Apr 13, 2019 5:43 pm
I have noticed intermittent periods of jerky response from the graphical layer. It was very annoying, and I have never discovered the cause. I began to suspect the network driver, however, when I noticed that the effect is often worse during periods of background file transfers.
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Re: rtl8822be wifi/bluetooth adapter: current support state

Post by brainchild » Mon Apr 15, 2019 6:14 pm

The problem returned, I regret, the day following the recent, optimistic report.

I continue to experience frequent drops, with a high rate of coincidence, surprisingly, with VT switch events.

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Re: rtl8822be wifi/bluetooth adapter: current support state

Post by brainchild » Fri Aug 16, 2019 7:29 am

Kernel upgrade to version 5.0.0-23.2 (from 4.18.0-25) resolved issue.

I removed alternative drivers, as I noticed no clear benefit from them over several months of observations.

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Re: rtl8822be wifi/bluetooth adapter: current support state

Post by neek » Thu Sep 05, 2019 8:21 pm

Kernel upgrade to version 5.0.0-23.2 (from 4.18.0-25) resolved issue.
Thanks for the update, brainchild. It prompted me to upgrade to Kernel 5.0.0-27 (supported until Feb 2020), and I can confirm that this has indeed ended the frequent (seemingly random) dropouts I've been putting up with for months now.

I agree that the alternative drivers didn't seem to make any noticeable difference on 4.15.0-60, either. But I think I am just going to leave everything as is now that everything is running smoothly.

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Re: rtl8822be wifi/bluetooth adapter: current support state

Post by brainchild » Thu Sep 05, 2019 8:39 pm

neek wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 8:21 pm
But I think I am just going to leave everything as is now that everything is running smoothly.
That is, of course, your choice. But I would suggest that the alternative drivers have been created by a single developer who lacks the time to consistently maintain them and to test them against new and varied deployment scenarios. Everything running smoothly now may be obscuring latent issues that can manifest as the kernel evolves, at some later time when you might not even be aware that the alternative drivers are creating problems. My inclination is to use the drivers only if you can confirm a substantial observable benefit, and in other cases to use official drivers.

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Re: rtl8822be wifi/bluetooth adapter: current support state

Post by neek » Thu Sep 05, 2019 8:48 pm

Okay, you've convinced me.

What's the easiest way to remove these drivers (these ones) and go back to using the default setup?

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