The r8169 driver and mysterious network problems

A few months ago, a friend of mine was having a problem. When he hooked up his Toshiba laptop to the Ethernet port in his bedroom, it would work under Windows, but not under Linux. When he hooked it up to the port in the room next door, it would work under both.

I headed over with my Samsung Ultrabook, and sure enough – it worked fine under Windows, but not Linux, while the room next door worked under both.

As it turns out, both our laptops used Realtek RTL8168-series Ethernet controllers, which are normally handled just fine by the r8169 driver, which can be found in the kernel mainline. However, Realtek also releases a r8168 driver (available in Debian as r8168-dkms). Upon installing that, everything worked fine.

(At some point I should probably go back and figure out why it didn’t work under r8169 so I can file a bug…)

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