RTL8723BE Again

According to This Posting, when my laptop ‘Klystron’ had an older kernel version, it was suffering from a number of WiFi problems.

These problems seemed to be related to the RTL8723BE kernel module, a Linux implementation of the device driver, for a chip-set that seemed to run fine under Windows. Linux issues with this chip-set are famous.

More recently I have read some follow-up information, that makes the problems I was experiencing more easily explained.

Apparently, the Realtek chip-set in this laptop has not one but two points, at which an antenna wire can be connected – i.e., the possibility of connecting two antennae. The device-driver is supposed to detect which antenna has the stronger signal, and is supposed to switch to whichever one that is.

Apparently, my laptop was not made so cheaply, as only to have one antenna in fact, as some models do. This is evidenced by the fact that when I was running Windows on it, I was able to close and reopen the laptop lid at any time, and not risk losing the signal.

But what can happen with earlier versions of this kernel module under Linux, is that it fails to switch to the antenna with the stronger signal in real-time, instead making a static decision to stay with one of the antenna wires, at least after a connection has been established. And this would explain why, when I closed my laptop lid before, the kernel module would choose to stay with an antenna it had chosen, and one with the now-weaker signal.

On the side, what I now find is that since I have been upgraded to kernel version ‘4.4.0-30-generic‘, the kernel module and its WiFi service seem to have become very stable, until I put the laptop into Suspend Mode. When I Resume from RAM after that, apparently the kernel module receives some amount of corruption, so that it becomes unstable again. But this is not the only problem that laptop runs in to with Suspend to RAM, as also noted Here. Further, I still have this laptop set To suspend to RAM, whenever I close its lid. So there are still no sessions on this machine, with the lid closed, with the WiFi active, and with the laptop plugged in to AC power, as some users leave theirs.

Such a test might be a good thing, to see if the WiFi signal still fades like that, with the new kernel module. That test has not happened yet.



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