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Ron Leach 10-24-2010 07:02 PM

F14: RTL 8192e WLAN driver
Neither F13 nor F14 ship with the RTL 8192e WLAN driver but, since so
many of the newer laptops and netbooks use this chipset, many of us
need the driver installed.

As a relative newbie to drivers, kernels, and sources (yes, all three
will matter), I found it a bit daunting especially since, on a clean
install (which is what many folk will use), some things that are
needed aren't there. Here's what worked for me, from a clean install
of F14 beta RC2.

There are 3 steps:
(1) Obtain the driver source
(2) Build the driver from source
(3) Install the driver and restart the machine
Everything came to life on the restart.

Step 1 Getting the driver

Realtek's site does offer a Linux driver, but for some reason my
browser wouldn't download it; I still don't know why. I managed to
obtain this file:

> rtl8192e_linux_2.6.0014.0401.2010.tar.gz

from, I think, the staging drivers from here:

>;a=tree;f=drivers/staging/rtl8192e;hb=aa021baa3295fa6e3f367d80f8955dd5176656 eb

(click on 'snapshot' to obtain the file)

Step 2 Building the driver

I placed the gz file in a subdir 'rtl8192' in my home directory, and
extracted all the files (keeping the embedded directory hierarchy).
Then I read the README. (I did, really, because I simply didn't know
- then - what to do next. But it didn't tell me all I was to need or
do.) It said:

make install

So I did - you mustn't, you must do a couple of other things first, I
label them (2a), and (2b), below. And so I hit the first error,
something like:
'Subdirectory ...kernels/build does not exist'. (I cannot reproduce
the exact error, now, because my system now works, but after a clean
install of F14 you'll get something like that if you just do what the
README says, straightaway.)

If you look for the directory, it does exist. Sort of. It's a
symlink but, if you're new to these and use the Thunar file manager to
inspect it, it flashes very briefly and disappears. Turns out, it's a
symlink to a directory under the 'source' of 'whichever' kernel you
have had installed - but 'only' if you have the source of the kernel
installed, which you haven't, on a clean install.

2a Pre-step 2a - install the kernel source

You have to install the kernel source before you can build the
rtl8192e driver. You'll need to
(i) have an internet connection (hopefully you can use the eth0 wired
LAN port on your machine), and
(ii) you'll need to set up yum (or the graphical package manager - I
used this) to use the 'source' repository as well as the binary
repository. I don't know how to do that on the command line for yum,
so I used the graphical system and enabled the 'source' repository for
the fedora build I was using. You have to then let the package
manager download the repository index and, if you use yum, you'll have
to command it to do the same thing.
(iii) you'll need to find the kernel you're using, and select its
source for installation. Take care to choose the correct one if you
get offered a choice. On my F13 system - which was a clean install
and has not been upgraded, similar to the state yours should be in
when first trying to load the 8192e driver - there is only one kernel
listed, so it's easy to see. Select the kernel source for
installation. Don't click 'apply' just yet, though, because we need
something else installed as well.

2b Pre-step 2b - install gcc

If you just install the kernel source, the missing 'build' directory
appears, but the driver creation immediately fails again because the
machine cannot find the compiler, gcc. At least, that's the case on
my system which came from the XFCE CD which doesn't install gcc
automatically. Find gcc in the package manager, and mark it for
installation, as well. Now click 'apply', to install both the kernel
source, and the gcc compiler(s). The system will install a lot of
support files, just say OK to those. When done, we're good to go, and
can follow the instructions in the driver README

2c Driver build

In your subdirectory with the driver files that you've downloaded and
extracted, su to root
and type 'make'

There'll be a few messages, and look at them carefully to make sure
there are no errors. I didn't get any more errors but, if you do,
then don't panic, just search around the net for anything with the
[text of the error message], somebody is pretty likely to have hit
your problem before, and you'll find some ideas for getting round
them. If you cannot get round the problem. describing it on one of
the fedora lists usually turns up some very strong advice. No errors,
and we're on the last leg.

3 Install the driver

Do what the README says. Type 'make install' while still root
make install
A few more messages to look at, and we're done. Again, check for
errors. I didn't get any at this stage. I shut the machine down, and

On restart, the machine connected automatically to a wireless network
(because way back, before I even realised I needed a driver, I'd been
trying to get wireless to work and I'd set up all the details for our
wifi APs, so it found those anyway and just connected itself. I've
since 'un-ticked' the 'connect automatically' option in network manager).

I was delighted. And very impressed that the README, and the make
files, worked as well as they did. They'd have worked perfectly,
anyway, on a fully configured development machine with kernel sources
and gcc compilers but, as I mentioned, those wouldn't normally exist
on a user's desktop machine (in my view). But getting things set up
isn't difficult, once you know what you need.

Hoping this helps others installing the 8182e driver on laptops and

regards, Ron

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