Realtek r8168 driver for Linux 3.8 & 3.9

For a long time, the only way to get the full functionality out of NICs which use the in-kernel ‘r8169’ driver was actually to eschew using the driver all together! Realtek offered their own driver, somewhat confusingly named ‘r8168’. This is available from their own highly unreliable FTP server, or from Google Code. This meant that whenever a new kernel was released you then had to await an update from Realtek before being able to upgrade.

However, the most recent r8168 release, version 8.0035.00, was released towards the end of December 2012 – and, whilst it builds against Linux kernels up to and including 3.7, it doesn’t work with kernel 3.8 or kernel 3.9.

… so I took a look at the r8169 source, and it looked suspiciously as if:

  1. It has been updated;
  2. It supports to specific Realtek device I’m using;
  3. It has full 9k Jumbo-frames support.

Finally, after several years, there’s no longer any need to use a proprietary driver in order to have full-sized frames!

It would, of course, have been nice if Realtek had posted a simple message saying that they were no longer updating their driver as the in-tree driver has now caught up in terms of functionality.

The interesting thing will be to see whether the occasional (every 3-6 months or so?) kernel panic within the networking subsystem will now also have gone away…