How to install Realtek RTL8188CE WiFi drivers (ThinkPad Edge 13) on Ubuntu Natty 11.04

Note (2011-09-05): This guide was written for an older version of the Realtek driver and is now obsolete. Users have reported success using the most recent driver from Realtek’s homepage (as of today: 0004.0816.2011, 2011/8/23, for kernel 2.6.35 and up), and ThinkWiki reported that the propper drivers will be included in the 2.6.39 kernel. Nevertheless, I’ll leave this guide here for reference purposes. Remember that the instructions only work with a specific driver version. Going through these instructions with a different driver and/or Ubuntu version may break your system.

thinkpadedge_realtekwifi.gifAfter a two-week long battle trying to get Realtek’s RTL8188CE WiFi network card to work on Ubuntu Natty 11.04, countless reinstalls and email exchanges with Realtek’s customer support, I finally managed to get Realtek’s PCI Express Mini WiFi card to establish a stable connection. I figured I’d share my findings with the world and save other users some trouble.

Realtek’s RTL8188CE card uses the RTL8192CE chipset, which can be found in different kinds of Lenovo ThinkPad Edge laptops. Although ThinkPad laptops are generally very Linux-friendly, the RealTek cards installed in the new Edge series can be a bit of a pain to set up. Realtek WiFi cards usually do a decent job once properly installed. But getting there is a long way. Luckily, apart from the WiFi card, most other components in the ThinkPad Edge 13 and 15 laptops work right out of the box and without problems with Natty’s 2.6.38 kernel.

Although drivers for the RTL8192CE chipset are included in Natty’s kernel, they don’t work reliably with a number of chipsets, see Launchpad bugs #749871 and #773976. This shouldn’t be a problem, since you can always just compile and install the official Realtek drivers yourself, right? Well, yes, you can. And in fact this worked quite well on Ubuntu Lucid (10.04) and Ubuntu Maverick (10.10). If you’re on Natty, however, you can’t simply install the original Realtek drivers over the ones already present. Also, Realtek offers two different versions of the 8192CE driver. Which is the right one to choose? Let’s take a look.

Note: Only go through this tutorial if you are familiar with Linux, the CLI and your computer’s hardware. Also, make sure you back up your data before you proceed. As usual, I can’t take responsibility for any data loss or hardware damage. Please also note that this whole tutorial may become obsolte with the next Ubuntu release or the next Linux kernel, as configurations change and new drivers are included in the kernel.

  1. Open a terminal and find out which WiFi card you have installed in your system by typing: lspci
    Go through the list of PCI components and look for “network controller”. This should look something like this:
    03:00.0 Network controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL8188CE 802.11b/g/n WiFi Adapter (rev 01)
  2. Now find out which kernel version you have: uname -r
    This should be 2.6.38 on Ubuntu Natty.
  3. Head over to Realtek’s website and look for your chipset:
    Depending on your chipset, you may find two different driver versions. If you have the RTL8188CE chipset, for example, then you have to choose between a driver for kernel 2.6.34 and earlier, and a version for kernel 2.6.35 and later. Even though you now know your kernel version, this is not as easy as it looks. As of today (2011-06-14), the version for kernels 2.6.35 and later causes unpredictable crashes on Lenovo systems. When I compiled and installed this version on my system, I was greeted with a kernel panic error message on reboot. As long as this situation remains unchanged, you are stuck with the driver for kernel versions 2.6.34 and earlier. Realtek has been contacted about the problem, though, and I hope that this will be resolved in the near future. Check ThinkWiki to read more about the current status here.
  4. Download the appropriate driver for your WiFi card and unpack it to your home directory. You should now have a “rtl8192ce_*” folder in your home directory.
  5. Get the tools necessary to compile the driver:
    sudo apt-get updatesudo apt-get install --reinstall linux-headers-generic build-essential
  6. Now we need to unload and block the original kernel modules/drivers from the Natty kernel. Otherwise they would destabilize the Realtek driver which we’re going to install:
    sudo rmmod rtl8192ce
  7. To blacklist the original kernel drivers/modules, open gedit:
    gksu gedit /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf
    Now insert the following two lines at the end of the file:
    blacklist rtl8192ce
    blacklist rtlwifi
  8. Finally, it’s time to compile and install the official Realtek driver. Change to the directory of the driver you downloaded before:
    cd rtl8192ce_*/
    Run the following commands in the order shown here:
    make clean
    sudo su
    make install
  9. Reboot

To make sure you’re using the correct driver, run lspci -v and scroll down to your Realtek WiFi card. The line “Kernel driver in use” should read “rtl8192CE” (note the two capitals at the end), and you should have a new kernel module “r8192ce_pci” installed.

That’s it. This fixed all WiFi related problems for me, and I hope it works for you as well. If you have any comments or suggestions, or think there is anything about this short tutorial that needs improvement, feel free to post a comment below!


Originally published at

23 comments to How to install Realtek RTL8188CE WiFi drivers (ThinkPad Edge 13) on Ubuntu Natty 11.04

  • Ted

    Ah, much better. But still not as good as connection quality 61/100 would suggest. But better nevertheless…

  • stefan.a

    I agree, it isn’t perfect. In my experience, the performance also depends on what kind of router you’re connecting to, how far away the router is located, etc. I seriously hope Realtek and the Linux kernel guys will look into this and provide people with a workable solution.

  • Realtek has released latest drivers (26 July 2011) for rtl8188ce which compile just fine in 11.04. Tested on Ubuntu 11.04 64bit.

  • stefan.a

    Thank you, Vivek. I also heard that there will be better support for the RTL8188CE in kernel version .39 and the new 3.0 kernel.
    I know of some people who simply replaced their Realtek card with an Intel Centrino Advanced-N + WiMAX 6250 PCI Express card and got better performance and more stability (more info here: If you consider doing that, make sure you get a modell with an FRU (hardware id) compatible with your device, though. You can get all the necessary manuals from Lenovo’s support website.

  • Tom

    thanks for that instruction, i followed it for a thinkpad x121e with realtek wlan pci on ubuntu 11.10; the genuine drivers from kernel 3.0 made me going mad, wlan was an awful experience.
    My experience:
    1) Installation according to instructions smoothly; 2) after reboot the wlan option in nw-manager was gone.
    3) Running “lspci -v” showed “rts_pstor” for both, kernel driver and kernel module.
    My solution:
    removing added blocking entries from step 7 above.
    So i don’t know whether new drivers were installed successfully or not.
    regards tom

  • stefan.a

    Thanks, tom. I actually thought these problems were fixed in the .39 kernel ( A bit disappointing to hear this is still an issue.
    Thanks for sharing your experience, nevertheless! Hope this will be helpful for other users.

  • Thomas

    I sucessfully tried realtek’s driver version for kernel 2.6.35 or later (version 0004.0816.2011, dated 2011/08/23). As far as I can tell, “make install” with this driver replaces the original driver and tried to remove some filed in the modules directories (all realtek-driver related files).
    So blacklisting rtl8192ce and rtlwifi is not good idea (or maybe blacklisting them and then trying out the drives using command line to ensure there is no kernel panic).

  • stefan.a

    Thank you for your comment, Thomas. Of course, the instructions only apply to the driver version mentioned in the post. Trying to combine the guide with a newer version is not recommended and may break your system. I’ve put up a note on top of the post so other people won’t run into this situation.

  • You are my hero. Worked like a charm for Realtek 8188CUS (apparently using 8192 driver) when the kernel driver crashed my router somehow… The procedure is minutely different (have to unpack the /driver/ .tar.gz after unpacking the .tar.gz downloaded) and switch to that directory, but everything else was the same. Thanks!

  • NSM

    Thank You! so much thank you!! I followed your instructions on my brother’s computer
    HP Pavilion g6-1C87nr he is ok with Windows 7 but I’m so happy he asked me to install Linux on it, and he uses Open Office, all of his own.
    I got some errors…like, ‘there is notrtl8192ce’ and some not updated things… )
    I know I’m lucky, the process went smooth
    after de make-install and reboot Aleluya! the light in the F12 is on and now I’m writing this through the Wireless Network
    Thanks again, greetings from MĂ©xico!

  • zaprotta

    thanks very much
    worked on ubuntu 12.04 and rtl8191seva (changed the edit accordingly)

    • rish

      sorry friend I tried all possible ways RTL8188CE install drivers in Ubuntu 12.04 and you saw what you made, can you tell me step by step how you did it, please!!

    • Carlos

      Same case for me: followed instructions as is and tried too install the latest driver form Realtek which has been reported to work. But my WiFi device does not even appear as enabled. The driver listed is “rtl8192ce” and not “rtl8192CE”.

  • pankaj gupta

    given manuals are most useful for driver selection installation..

  • betaraybill

    Worked perfectly on an Asus K53e with Linux Mint 13 64-bit Mate edition. Thanks so much!

  • brad

    I have a Toshiba Satellite C655D-S5300. this model has the AMD chip and a Realtek wireless card. I had to get a new hard drive and because i don’t have access to a backup copy of my operating system, I’m running Ubuntu 12.04 LTS on the computer. I’ve been unable to connect to either a wireless or wired network since installing Ubuntu. I’m thinking that it must be a driver issue. Can you direct me to where I might find drivers for this problem? Toshiba only supports Windows and I’m afraid to load either the Win 7 or Win 8 drivers for fear it could mess up my Ubuntu. Would you know a site where I could download drivers for the Realtek wireless card and that will work in 12.04? thanks.

    • stefan.a

      Hello brad, unfortunately this tutorial only covers the Realtek RTL8188CE wireless card discussed above. I am not familiar with other Realtek cards, but typically drivers are included within the kernel on Linux systems, so you shouldn’t have to install anything yourself. Sometimes wireless cards don’t work out of the box, though, in which case you may try to find more recent Linux drivers for your card on Realtek’s homepage or update your Linux kernel. Both tasks are non-trivial, however, and I can’t give a “one size fits all” description of how to do this. I suggest you try a more recent version of Ubuntu, as those contain newer kernels, or google for instructions on how to set up your specific wireless card model on Ubuntu.

  • neuilly

    Guys, I have been struggling with this realtek rtl8188ce on ubuntu 12.04. here is the situation. please I need some help. spent quite several hours.
    I downloaded the software from realtek and compiled and installed. I see that the module rtl8192ce is used for the rtl8188ce hw.
    I did not reinstall the generic header as instructed somewhere.. I read it later. but this is a new fresh ubuntu server 12 installation.
    maybe my problem is more in configuring but I have followed step by step several tutorials and video online.
    all the commands works well (iwlist, ifconfig, iwconfig) and I can scan the frequencies with iwlist wlan0 scanning. however I can’t get the wlan0 in RUNNING mode (UP BROADCAST MULTICAST) but not running. I saw a video online, after the iwconfig wlan0 essid “name” and ifconfig wlan0 up the wlan0 interface goes in running. not mine. then whatever you use dhclient or static ip address does not matter, I think, because first the interface must be running, ie. the link connection is made with the access point. I use mode Managed (Master gives error) and I have no encryption setup on the router (removed to make it easier). I have used also wifi-radar, I see all the signals, I can play with it, but when I say connect… it hangs (I think the dhcp is trying)
    considering the scan command works and everything else works, I don’t get any crash or kernel panic, I would say the drivers are good. what do you think ?
    any idea ?
    did any one experience similar behavior with “bad drivers” ?

  • Doga.A

    Just purchased a Toshiba Satellite L855-S5273, out of the box after Linux Mint 14 MATE install neither LAN nor WiFi worked. The instructions on top are very good until the last section. I had to go back and remove the blacklist entries for the wifi card to work. Also you can rename the Realtek driver file after extracting with a shorter name (currently it is 180 characters). And modify the line entries for the newly renamed file. Thank you for the help! (Also found help for LAN card here Good luck every one. PS. I used a usb wifi until I got the built in wifi working!

  • Obie Bent

    I purchased a Toshiba Satellite L875-S7209 and I installed BackTrack5 Gnome on VMware. I read through the steps of this tutorial and applied all the statements, but I can’t work with my wifi card. I’ve already installed the linux-headers and VMware Tools earlier. Here is the message that I receive after run the make command:

    make -C /lib/modules/ M=/root/Desktop/rtl_92ce_92se_92de_8723ae_88ee_linux_mac80211_0012.0207.2013 modules
    make[1]: Entering directory `/lib/modules/’
    make[1]: *** No rule to make target `modules’. Stop.
    make[1]: Leaving directory `/lib/modules/’
    make: *** [all] Error 2

    Please help me to fix this bug!!!! Thanks in advance

    • stefan.a

      I’m sorry, Obie. The tutorial was written for an older version of the Realtek driver software and Ubuntu, as stated on top of this page. I cannot help you with other setups I’m afraid.


    I am using CentOS and realtek
    RTL8188CE 802.11b/g/n wifi adapter. But the problem is it is failing in apt-get and it would be great if you update me with yum steps.

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>