Phy write failure Realtek 8010?

  • Hi all,

    Well, i finally took the plunge.  I am a long time smoothwall user who has been forced to switch to another distro due to lack of full control over IPsec (I need to connect with other firewalls like crappy linksys routers).  So far I like the enormous feature list available in pfsense though its a bit overloaded for my personal preference.  But if it will do the job i need it to, who am I to complain.  I definitely like the package manager.  That is just plane cool!  The NAT setup is also quite nice.

    Now for the question.  I recently "upgraded" to a jetway j7f4k1g2 mobo with dual realtek 8010sc gigabit network cards (big mistake with those cards).  I was surprised to find that they installed out of the box without having to find, download, upload, install drivers and play some games on the firewall.  However, when the realtek is connected to the modem directly, I get horribly slow and glichy downloads.  Eventually the connection fails with a "phy write failure".  I than tried installing a spare pci nic laying around and assigned it to WAN which solved the horribly slow glichy problem.  However, after a random amount of time, the LAN connection fails and the terminal will start scrolling "phy write failure".  With a reboot, everything is fine again for a random amount of time.  I'm sure its a driver problem.  I have found similar postings of Realtek problems in the IPcop forum.  It seems that the realtek support sucks for kernels pre 2.6.  Being new to pfsense, I'm not quite sure where to begin.  Any help/advice would be appreciated.  (please just don't tell me to return the MOBO ;))


  • 1. It's not GNU-Linux but unix (FreeBSD)
    2. From the jetway website i can see it should be the RTL8110 SC and not a 8010 sc on this board, Typo?
    3. Updating the driver ain't a easy task and i don't know how many sweet words you'll have to whisper into Scott's ear before a update of the driver can be added. But what i do know is that you could test with a testing image if that doesn't help you could try with the stock 6.3 freebsd and update the driver.
    4. As a last resort you could buy a dual intel lan nic or a riser card for the pci port.

  • Thanks for the quick reply,

    Your right, typo.  Should be 8110sc


    But what i do know is that you could test with a testing image

    All I see out there is the 1.2 iso and updates.  What test image are you referring to?


    if that doesn't help you could try with the stock 6.3 freebsd and update the driver.

    Are you telling me to build pfsense on a current version of freebsd, or is there a beta version of pfsense out there?  If so where can I find them?  Also, as I'm not familiar with free bsd or pfsense, is there a building tutorial out there for development versions?

    Thanks for the help

  • FreeBSD 6.3 probably works better with this NIC. There is a pfSense 1.2 with a FreeBSD 6.3 base available here:

    that several thousand people have downloaded to use with newer hardware and it's proven to work well.

    The 1.2.1 release will be based on 6.3 as well, snapshots will be coming soon.

  • Well, yesterday afternoon I downloaded pfsense 1.2 built on 6.3. I used the update feature with in the software to install the package and it worked for about 14 hours before dieing again.  Got the same "watchdog timed out" followed by "re0 phy write failure".  I guess I can try 1.3 alpha and see if that solves anything.

    What gets me is according to the hardware compatability list, the realtek 8110s is supported.  Is the realtek 8110 sc that different where the driver won't support it?

    Admins, can you please modify the name of the topic to phy write failure Realtek 8110 instead of 8010 to be more accurate?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated,

  • Realtek NICs are often troublesome - there's ongoing dialogue about them on the freebsd-stable mailing list, with the maintainer trying to improve the driver as much as possible.

    As you're new to FreeBSD, I should explain the term "stable" or, as it's more commonly written, -STABLE.

    The CVS HEAD version of FreeBSD is what will become FreeBSD 8 - that's referred to as FreeBSD-CURRENT.

    At any time there are one or more branches of FreeBSD from which there have been releases, or from which there will shortly be a release. These are the -STABLE branches. -STABLE doesn't mean that the code is necessarily stable; it means that the ABI (the way that code interfaces to other code) is stable. Releases are made from a -STABLE branch.

    For various reasons, there was a long gap between FreeBSD 6.x and FreeBSD 7.x; 7.x is still quite new, and has moved on a long way since 6.x. pfSense 1.2 is based around FreeBSD 6.2-RELEASE; pfSense 1.2.1 (and the image mentioned already in this thread) is based around FreeBSD 6.3-RELEASE, which is much newer.

    Discussion about FreeBSD 6 and 7 happens on the freebsd-stable mailing list. You may find the discussion about Realtek NIC problems that starts here interesting reading, especially the contributions from Pyun YongHyeon who maintains the driver. Another slightly older thread starts here; the opinions from Jeremy Chadwick here makes particularly interesting reading, not least as Jeremy runs a lot of FreeBSD machines and keeps the FreeBSD 'known issues' page here (though I really must get round to asking him to update the comments on Dell PERC 6/i - the latter two posts are about a failure to use GPT when it's needed as the virtual disk is bigger than 2TB, and the first four are about a problem on 6.x that is apparently fixed in 7.x and may show on all fast controllers, not just mfi(4) controllers which are LSI MegaRAID SAS chipset controllers).

    Whilst those posts are about 7-STABLE some time after the 7.0-RELEASE, the situation is only likely to be worse in 6.3-RELEASE, which predates patches that are in the operating systems throwing up these problems.

    It is unfortunate that so many otherwise good Mini-ITX boards use Realtek NICs. Liantec make Mini-ITX boards with Intel Gigabit NICs, but they're not that commonly seen.

    My fear of Realtek NICs is such that I didn't go down the Mini-ITX route for my production pfSense box - indeed, I don't own anything with a Realtek NIC. My FreeBSD boxes have a mixture of bce(4) (Broadcom NetXtreme II), em(4) (Intel Gigabit), fxp(4) (Intel Fast Ethernet) and xl(4) (3Com 3C905B/C) NICs. My pfSense box, which is a Dell PowerEdge R200, has two bge(4) (Broadcom NetXtreme) NICs - these work well, though they don't have the legendary status of Intel Gigabit NICs. The main reason the Intel NICs are supported so well is that Jack Vogel, who is responsible for the FreeBSD drivers, works for Intel and the drivers are officially supported by Intel.

    Two NICs are twice as many as I need - with a 802.1q tagged VLAN capable switch, I only need one NIC.

    If you want to try patches, you'll need to download and install the developer ISO corresponding to the pfSense version that you want to use on a computer or virtual machine; many people use VMWare to do this. However, making a patch for a -RELEASE kernel from -STABLE source is non-trivial; you really need experience of C programming, the CVS version control system and a bit of knowledge about how the FreeBSD kernel is put together. It really isn't for the novice.

    Even if you did backport the fixes in 6-STABLE (the RELENG_6 branch in FreeBSD CVS) to the 6.3-RELEASE kernel, I suspect that your results with your Realtek NICs would be unreliable at best. I'd look to fit a decent dual port NIC to your Jetway board, or keep the Jetway for something else and get a Mini-ITX board with different NICs.

  • Another datapoint about Realtek NICs.

    I also have a Jetway mini-ITX board, but a 627F series board with a single onboard VIA Rhine 10/100 NIC. I purchased the single 10/100 port daughter board which has a Realtek 8139 10/100 NIC. I have not had any trouble with either of the NICs. This board runs Smoothwall and has never had to be rebooted  though it has been rebooted for software upgrades or power accidents (current uptime is over 73 days). I'm planning to change to pfSense.

    I started off intending to suggest you could get the three 10/100 port daughter board (if you don't really need the gigabit bandwidth; I don't, I'm just using my system as a firewall for home broadband internet of about 6Mbps) but now I recall the two LAN port Jetway boards you mentioned don't have the daughter board option. I don't have any idea if my good experience with the 10/100 Realtek NIC can be safely extrapolated from Linux to FreeBSD nor if heavy load would make a difference to the reliability of the NICs.

    If 10/100 NICs are fast enough you could look on Ebay for PCI boards with dual 10/100 Intel NICs which you can probably purchase quite cheaply. Then you needn't use the troublesome onboard NICs. Dual port Intel NICs on a single PCI card are available but comparatively expensive. A single port PCI card might be an option if you have a VLAN capable switch.

  • Thanks guys,

    Good advice.  I've been reading a lot about the realtek cards and am not optimistic about them.  For now, I think the solution to this problem is over my head mainly because I don't have the time to spend learning and working on the problem (one of the reasons I switched to pfsense from smoothwall; limited VPN flexibility and lack of time to remedy the situation).

    Currently, I'm looking at multi port NICs as a solution.  (UPDATE:  Just won a bid on a Dlink DFE-570TX. Hope this card works.)  I do have a switch that is VLAN capable however, its loud and power hungry.  I don't currentely use it in my house since there is no need (small temporary house with minimal up to date wiring).  In the future when I relocate for my job to a more permanent home, that may be an option.  On a side note, will pfsense support trunking?

    I'm also considering another ITX board.  I'm looking for something low power (approximately 15 watts or less), dual LAN (gigabit would be nice), at least 1 add on slot for a wireless LAN card (any suggestions on cards would be appreciated), over 1ghz.  The plan I had for my current board was to use the 2 gigabit onboard for my internal network (two sides; one for servers accessible from outside world, the other for private network), one PCI network card for WAN, and one wireless card all in a 1u rackmount case with a 2 slot PCI riser. 
    What wireless cards do you all recommend (looking for either g or n cards)? 
    Thanks for all the help and advice,

  • I'm also considering another ITX board.  I'm looking for something low power (approximately 15 watts or less), dual LAN (gigabit would be nice), at least 1 add on slot for a wireless LAN card (any suggestions on cards would be appreciated), over 1ghz.

    See,8927.0.html and,5520.15.html for some information on Liantec small form factor boards.

    FreeBSD (and hence pfSense) has support for a number of wireless interfaces including PCI, mini PCI and USB. Based on recommendations I have been using an Atheros PCI wireless card (TP-LINK TL-WN651G) in Smoothwall and it has worked reliably. One of the challenges with the wireless interfaces is identifying the chipset in a particular product so you can determine if there is a driver thats likely to work with it. Some manufacturers are inclined to use the same model code for devices with different chipsets. The web page can be consulted to check if a particular card uses the Atheros chipset. A wider variety of chipsets is covered in The FreeBSD hardware support pages should also be consulted ( for the upcoming pfSense 1.3 release, for the upcoming pfSense 1.2.1 release and for the current pfSense 1.2 release)

  • @wallabybob:

    Another datapoint about Realtek NICs.

    I also have a Jetway mini-ITX board, but a 627F series board with a single onboard VIA Rhine 10/100 NIC. I purchased the single 10/100 port daughter board which has a Realtek 8139 10/100 NIC.

    FWIW, 627F here also but with the addition of the 3x1Gb lan daughter board.

    Despite the extra 3 potential ports, I built it out as a 'router-on-a-stick' using only the main embedded port and VLANs.

    New pfSense user and I just completed the install and initial testing (looks stable so far).

    Tomorrow begins production use so I don't know yet how it will hold up to load.

    If all goes well, I plan on testing configs using the extra ports (versus ROAS) to see how it affects throughput and CPU load.

    Great service from "logic supply" on the equipement.

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