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which ethernet card? Marvell or Realtek?

Last response: in Linux/Free BSD
November 27, 2008 9:15:12 PM

It's still debatable which ethernet cards or built-in ethernet LAN hardware works (best) in Linux out of the most recent motherboards.

I was wondering if anyone who uses Linux and has recent motherboards can confirm whether various ethernet LAN hardware works.

I am talking about the most recent boards that are currently available either brand new or 'like-new' on ebay or in used sales.

I'm mostly talking about Marvell and Realtek.

For e.g., I suspect that the Realtek 8111B LAN chips work in Linux OOTB (out of the box) with little or minimum configuration. In other words, they work whenever you install or boot up.

The RTL8111B/8168B ethernet (built-in) card works without any special configuration (requirements).

I'm not as sure about the Realtek 8111C ethernet cards. These are the most recent ones often in P45 motherboards. I'm not familiar what's in AMD motherboards. These hardware is often described as RTL8111C (ethernet LAN). I'm interested in knowing the current status of this particular ethernet card in Linux since I'm looking at motherboards most compatible in Linux.

Other than Realtek, Marvell ethernet LAN cards in motherboards are often 50/50 in terms of whether they might work in Linux. It might or it might not. Some of the more recent Marvell LAN hardware is said to work but I was hoping to confirm this. Also, there are reports that it might work but with issues.

These Marvell onboard ethernet LAN chips include 88E8053, 88E8056 and 88E8001 (often part of a dual ethernet LAN motherboard). These alternatives are most often on Asus motherboards. 'Not sure what other motherboards they can be found on. I guess I'm mostly asking about Asus motherboards with the Marvell ethernet LAN cards since Asus boards are quite common and usually receive decent reviews (but most of all, are readily available).

So can anyone attest to any of these ethernet LAN cards working in Linux (without issues or connectivity problems)?:

So, in a nutshell, I'm mostly asking about this:
Gigabyte/MSI motherboards with Realtek RTL8111B (most likely works) Gigabyte GA-EP35-DS3R
Gigabyte/MSI motherboards with Realtek RTL8111C (unsure; 'might work out of the box OR might have issues and needs configuration?) Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3R

Asus motherboards with Marvell 88E8056/88E8001 (uses sky2 and skge drivers respectively). E.g. Asus P5Q-E, Asus P5K-E
a b 5 Linux
November 27, 2008 11:02:11 PM

Broadcom chips usually work :) 

Semper Fi :) 
November 28, 2008 4:26:25 AM

But, I won't be getting a board with a Broadcom chip. I was wondering which one is more reliable, the Realtek or Marvell chip.

I also don't want to have to get an internal network card. I think there must be one built-in ethernet chip that works well enough in Linux.

I know the Realtek RTL8111B one works. That's why I'm considering P35 mobo even though we're at P45 boards now.
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a b 5 Linux
November 28, 2008 8:41:45 AM

Ethernet normally works with Linux 99% of the time. Its wireless that you should be concerned with. Almost all major Ethernet chip brands are compatible with one driver or two...
a b V Motherboard
a b 5 Linux
November 28, 2008 2:57:30 PM

As you say, the RTL8111B works fine. If this is the only potential problem, and P45 motherboards are better for you in other ways, why not give it a whirl. If all else fails an ethernet card only costs about £15-20 nowadays.

Is there a particular reason you want to avoid an internal card (like using all the PCI slots for something else)?

Whatever the situation now you can be sure that within a version or two the kernel will contain the necessary drivers. You can then dump the ethernet card.
a b 5 Linux
November 28, 2008 5:00:08 PM

Ubuntu has issues with some LAN chipsets, like some versions of the 8169 and 81xx, Fedora usually works on chips Ubuntu doesn't work on but your mileage may vary.

Interestingly Ubuntu makes it somewhat easier to use wireless.

Good luck :) 
a b 5 Linux
November 29, 2008 6:18:41 AM

It should be ok... Someone must support the chips in popular motherboards? Right?
a b V Motherboard
a b 5 Linux
November 29, 2008 8:54:52 AM

It can take a little time for new hardware to find its way into the kernel. It'll get there soon, if it's not already supported.
a b 5 Linux
November 29, 2008 10:53:50 AM

It looks like you are in luck with the RTL8111C, there were issues with 7.10 and a workaround found as with this thread:

There seems to be more of an issue if you dual boot as the driver on the Windows side can do funny things to the card, this seems to have been worked out as per:

Give the age of these I would think you should be safe to play with 8.10, if you do find problems there seems to be plenty of guides on working it through.
a b 5 Linux
November 30, 2008 3:40:02 AM

I've had a few handfuls of LAN cards/chipsets over the years, from realtek cards to tulip-based (ADM) to tigon3 gigabit to Intel pro1000 gigabit to NVidia pro gigabit to a sun quad-port card, and really never had issues getting it recognized or stability issues. This is one of the truly bright spots of OSS operating systems (since servers were one of the earliest uses of the OS's and continuing pervasive uses, it's not too surprising). My personal experiences.