How to make a RTL 8185 wifi card work with Ubuntu

At work, I have an Encore ENLWI-G2 pci wifi card that used to work quite well with Ubuntu (we are using the Karmic Koala version), but after a kernel update, it didn’t work anymore. Sometimes it’d connect but then lose connection after a while, but most of the time the link led wouldn’t turn on and the card didn’t respond to any connection attempt.

The card was correctly recognized by the system, running lspci would return:

Ethernet controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL-8185 IEEE 802.11a/b/g Wireless LAN Controller (rev 20)

As shown, the card uses a Realtek 8185 chipset.

What didn’t work:

  • Checked correct modules were running, stopped and restarted them (as some people on the Ubuntu forums suggested).
    Nothing happened.
  • Downloaded the Linux driver from the Realtek site (click here to visit it).
    Compiled and installed it, it removed previous modules and added a new rt8185 to the system, but didn’t get the card working.
  • Downloaded Windows XP driver from the Realtek site and tried using ndiswrapper.
    Drivers installed successfully and ndiswrapper showed rt8185 as an alternative to them, but the device appeared as “unclaimed” and didn’t work. As this was the first time I ever try ndiswrapper I thought I was doing something wrong, removed the Linux driver and tried several other things, but no luck.

What worked:
ndiswrapper. Yes, I said before it didn’t work, but also said that I was using the driver I downloaded from the Realtek site. After that unsuccesfull attempt, I tried again using the drivers from the installation CD ( I found it around the office) and this time it worked! We have some other wifi cards from other manufacturers using the same Realtek chip, I’d give them a try when I have some time ;).

These are the steps I followed for installing the Windows drivers:

  • Downloaded ndiswrapper from this link (most recent version was 1.56 at the time of this writing). If you have an alternative method for accessing the internet, you can install ndiswrapper from the Ubuntu repositories.
  • Uncompress, compile and install.
  • Get the Windows XP drivers from the installation CD.
  • Install the drivers using ndiswrapper:

    ndiswrapper -i net8185.inf

  • Add ndiswrapper to /etc/modules
  • Restart

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06/23/10 update:
I had some trouble as I commented in a reply to this post, but I’ve switched mother board and it works again. Guess the problem is the mother board, it’s strange since I tested the wifi card under Windows, and also tried two other wifi cards in Ubuntu with that mother board. Anyway, I was able to test two other mother boards and the wifi card works great, so I must conclude the problem is with my first board.

Summary
– Under Ubuntu Karmic Koala (9.10), my Encore ENLWI-G2 (Realtek 8185) does not work with my Biostar MCP6PB M2 motherboard, no matter if using the native driver (which used to work) or the Windows driver (which also worked for some time).
– The same card works fine with other mother boards (I tested Elitegroup A780GM-A and Intel D945GCLF2) under Ubuntu Karmic (tested using ndiswrapper).
– Under Ubuntu Lucid Lynx (10.04), my wifi card works with the native rtl8180 driver, it shows less accurate signal strength than ndiswrapper under Karmic however. I think ndiswrapper would give me better perfomance under Lucid too, but I prefer the native driver and save the ndiswrapper alternative if having trouble.
– I haven’t tested: ndiswrapper under Lucid.
– Hope this info helps someone, I keep it for my records ;).

One thought on “How to make a RTL 8185 wifi card work with Ubuntu”

  1. Bad luck, it worked for a while but is giving trouble once again. When trying to connect the system freezes for a moment, and it never connects. I haven’t been able to solve it, I’m using a D-Link wifi card for now, it works fine.

    lspci:
    Network controller [0280]: RaLink RT2561/RT61 rev B 802.11g [1814:0302]

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