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?