Updated: November 18, 2016
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the day worth remembering. The long outstanding problem with the disconnects on a variety of Realtek Wireless devices, my RTL8723BE included, which has shown problems time and again in pretty much every single distro out there, has been finally resolved. Word.
A reader emailed me a few days back and said the new kernel 4.8.7 fixes the issue. I decided to test this, and completed a long and arduous set of checks in Manjaro 16.10, which has the kernel 4.8.7 available in its repos. One of the perks of bleeding-edge Arch-based distros. The Manjaro review is still a few weeks away, but we can at least focus on this burning issue. Let me proudly and happily elaborate.
You do not really need to know all the details, but the problem has only now been remedied. I also previously tested the 4.8.X line in Fedora 24, but this did not lead to the desired results. You need 4.8.7 to get the Realtek card to behave. Anyhow, this means finally bringing the sorry 2-year sage on the Lenovo G50 laptop to an end.
What I did is a very thorough set of downloads and uploads, including single and multiple HTTP downloads of small and large files (up to 2.8 GB in size), several torrent downloads of Linux distributions, and simultaneous system updates. I also browsed the Web while doing this, downloaded images, and performed speed tests.
The connection was good and stable, consistently reporting 40 Mbps+ for downloads and about 18-19 Mbps for uploads. There were no drops or disconnects. This looks like a beginning of a loving relationship between Linux and Realtek. At least. Now, there is always a chance my own testing was not exhaustive enough, and I definitely need to test additional distributions and use cases, but from what I was able to discern in a short yet reasonable time, this kernel is the kernel!
Now guys, please do remember that this kernel will take a LONG time propagating into some of the running distros and their current editions, and in some cases, it may not ever reach that state. It is unlikely that Ubuntu 14.04 or CentOS 7 will get this branch, so we will still be seeing the Realtek problem around for a while.
Some of the upcoming distro reviews will also mention the issue, so please take that into account when you are reading. I will try to reference this article in those future reviews, but there still might a case here and there where I might miss the info. Please make sure to point others back to this article, so they can get the most up to date news.
I believe the RTL87XX issues are finally fixed. Fully and completely. Now, we do need to be realistic about the timing and impact of the new kernel with the users. It is always possible there might be some additional, obscure corner cases, and maybe some devices could still exhibit disconnect issues, and it will take time for the new kernel to reach every user. Perhaps years. But we do have a proper resolution in our hands, and that is what matters.
One more thing. I am quick to criticize. Quick and harsh. But I am also more than happy to give praise when it's due. I have lambasted distro teams for not caring and not working on fixing core problems in the system, but now we do have the fix. And so I would like to high-five the kernel devs and whoever was involved in this effort, and sincerely thank them for listening and resolving a big, critical driver problem. Kudos, guys. Great stuff.
This is a good thing. See you around. Stay tuned for updates.