rtl8xxxu - true love for cheap USB WiFi dongles

Session information has not yet been published for this event.

Refereed Presentation
Scheduled: Wednesday, November 2, 2016 from 9:45 – 10:30am in Sweeney F

One Line Summary

Improving support for cheap Realtek WiFi dongles (and shrinking drivers/staging in the process)


Linux support for inexpensive USB WiFi dongles has long been rather chaotic, with vendors selling multiple variations of the same device, requiring completely different drivers for each one.

Particular prone to this mess has been the Realtek based devices, resulting in a myriad of git repositories and help pages with
modified versions of the numerous nearly identical Realtek vendor drivers.

This talk will discuss how a naive attempt of ‘cleaning up the rtl8723au vendor driver in a couple of months’ turned into a much bigger project of rewriting the driver from scratch. This included adding support for multiple devices from the rtl8xxx family, most of which were previously only supported by individual out-of-tree and staging drivers.

We will look at what is currently supported and what is expected in the nearer future. In addition we will examine missing features and what needs to be done before we can finally remove the current 3 Realtek USB drivers from staging.

In addition we will discuss long term features, including adding support for 802.11ac devices, as well as SDIO and PCI derivatives of the same chips.

Finally, as rewriting WiFi drivers for an entire chip family is a much bigger job than it looks like at the surface, there is plenty of work to do. All attendees will be assumed volunteers and we will complete the presentation with a discussion of what the audience would like to see added and you will be assigned tasks for your future participation.


wifi, staging, realtek, vendor drivers

Presentation Materials



  • The-pirate


    Jes Sorensen is a Linux kernel engineer on the Platform Enablement Team at Red Hat, where he primarily works on Software RAID. In addition he amuses himself by organizing Linux conferences and writing Wi-Fi device drivers when he has the time for it.

    Jes Sorensen has worked on the Linux kernel and userland since 1993. He has worked on a number of device drivers, RAID, KVM, high speed networking, Linux/ia64, Linux/m68k, the system libraries (glibc), and high-end NUMA systems.

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