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      A lot of people will remember my guide how to get a RTL8111/RTL8168 running under your Linux box. This guide is almost 5 years old now and I wanted to make a complete overhaul, because a lot of things has changed since then.

      Why do I need this driver anyway?

      Some people asked me, “Why do I need this driver anyway? Doesn’t the Linux Kernel ship it?”. This is of course a valid question. As far as I can see this, the RTL8111/RTL8168 is not Open Source and this would be of course the reason why the driver isn’t included into the Linux Kernel. As long as the driver isn’t Open Sourced, we have to build it on our own.

      The installation methods

      A lot of things have changed since I written the initial article about how to compile the driver under Ubuntu / Debian. Today we can use 2 methods for installing the driver. The following lines describes both of them.

      The automatic way

      NOTE: Thanks to the user “Liyu” who gave me this hint!
      NOTE2: For this way you need a working internet connection. You could use WLAN or a USB ethernet card like this one to get a temporary internet connection. You could also download every needed single package onto USB from another PC and install them in the right order.

      As I said ealier, 5 years is a long time. And today Ubuntu and Debian have the driver included in it’s repository. For Debian you have to enable the non-free package sources. For Ubuntu you have to enable the universe package sources. You can easily do this by open your /etc/apt/sources.list as root with your editor of choice and add for each line starting with “deb” non-free or universe at the end. So for example, if you use Debian a line like:

      deb jessie main contrib

      would become to

      deb jessie main contrib non-free

      The same for Ubuntu:

      deb xenial main restricted

      would become to

      deb xenial main restricted universe

      After this you have to do a:

      sudo apt-get update

      You can of course use graphical ways to enable non-free or universe. After you enabled the missing package repository, you will be ready to install the driver. This can be easily done with the following command:

      sudo apt-get install r8168-dkms

      The procedure will take some time, depending on your CPU because the driver will be build for your working Kernel. The good side is, that if any Kernel update happens on your machine, the kernel will be rebuild against the new Kernel automatically after the update because of the use of dkms.
      After the procedure is finished, you should be able to use your network card instantly. If not, you should consider a reboot of your PC then.

      The manual way

      Well, the manual way is almost the same as it was before in the initial article. Anyway, I want to rewrite the steps here again. This is also tested against newer Kernels ( >= 4.0) which caused a lot of trouble for some people in the past.

      • 1. Install dependencies: Once more you need a working internet connection for this. You could also use the Debian or Ubuntu DVD which includes the needed packages. To install the dependencies just enter the following command:
        sudo apt-get install build-essential linux-headers-$(uname -r)
      • 2. Download the driver: You can download the driver from the official Realtek homepage mirror provided by mtorromeo at GitHub. This is the direct download link: click me.
      • 3. Blacklisting the r8169 driver: The r8169 is loaded when the r8168 is not found on your system. This will give you a network and internet connection, but with the r8169 driver your RTL8168 card will be very unstable. This means slow download rates, homepages taking hours to load and so on. To avoid that the r8169 is loaded, we blacklist it. This is be done by entering the following command:
        user@linux:~$ sudo sh -c 'echo blacklist r8169 >> /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf'
      • 4. Untar the archive: After you successfully downloaded the driver, cd into the directory where the driver is downloaded and untar the driver with the following command:
        user@linux:~$ tar xfvz r8168-8.046.00.tar.gz

        NOTE: Your tar filename can of course differs if you download a newer version in the future for e.g.

      • 5. Compiling and installing the driver: Now we have to start compiling the driver. For this you cd into the extracted directory:
        user@linux:~$ cd r8168-8.046.00

        NOTE: Don’t forget to change your version number in the future here.
        Now that you are in the right directory, we can start with the real compiling process. For this Realtek brings an easy to use script which is called So, to start compiling and installing the driver enter:

        user@linux:~/r8168-8.046.000$ sudo ./

        You should see a output which looks like this:

        Check old driver and unload it.
        rmmod r8168
        Build the module and install
        At main.c:222:
        - SSL error:02001002:system library:fopen:No such file or directory: bss_file.c:175
        - SSL error:2006D080:BIO routines:BIO_new_file:no such file: bss_file.c:178
        sign-file: certs/signing_key.pem: No such file or directory
        Backup r8169.ko
        rename r8169.ko to r8169.bak
        DEPMOD 4.4.0-31-generic
        load module r8168
        Updating initramfs. Please wait.
        update-initramfs: Generating /boot/initrd.img-4.4.0-31-generic

        You can ignore the SSL error for now. The driver should be successfully compiled and installed into your system. The driver is already loaded and should work.

      • 6. Check the driver: As a final step, you could start checking if the driver is really loaded into your Kernel. For this you can use the command lsmod. lsmod lists all drivers, which are usable by your Kernel. So, if everything was successful, you should see an output like this:
        user@linux:~/r8168-8.046.000$ lsmod | grep r8168
        r8168                 491520  0

        You can also check as well your ethernet device directly to see if the correct driver is loaded (special thanks goes to Tim which posted this in the comment section):

        user@linux:~$ sudo ethtool -i enp1s0
        driver: r8168
        version: 8.042.00-NAPI
        bus-info: 0000:07:00.0
        supports-statistics: yes
        supports-test: no
        supports-eeprom-access: yes
        supports-register-dump: yes
        supports-priv-flags: no

        NOTE: You have to the change enp1s0 to the device name of your network card of course. This can be eth0, eth1, enp2s0, and so on.

        If your driver isn’t loaded until now, you should go with a reboot before further investigation.

      That’s it

      And that’s it. Now you’re ready to use your RTL8168/RTL8111 with the official Realtek drivers. If you have any questions and / or suggestions, please let me know in the comments.