Software & AppsOperating SystemLinux

How To Install and Use Realtek RTL8811CU Wifi Dongle on Ubuntu 18.04

Ubuntu 15

In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the process of installing and using the Realtek RTL8811CU WiFi dongle on Ubuntu 18.04.

Quick Answer

To install and use the Realtek RTL8811CU WiFi dongle on Ubuntu 18.04, you will need to install necessary dependencies, create a build directory, clone the driver repository, build and install the driver, and load the driver module. Restart your system for the changes to take effect.


The Realtek RTL8811CU is a popular WiFi dongle that can provide a significant boost to your internet connectivity. However, getting it up and running on Ubuntu 18.04 can be a bit tricky. This guide will provide step-by-step instructions to make the process as smooth as possible.


Before we begin, ensure that you have the following:

  • A system running Ubuntu 18.04.
  • A Realtek RTL8811CU WiFi dongle.
  • An active internet connection (for downloading necessary files).

Step 1: Installing Necessary Dependencies

First, we need to install some necessary dependencies. Open a terminal and run the following command:

sudo apt install build-essential dkms git
  • sudo is a command that allows users to run programs with the security privileges of another user (normally the superuser, or root).
  • apt is the package handling utility (apt-get) that handles packages in Linux distributions based on Debian.
  • install is the command to install a package.
  • build-essential, dkms, and git are the packages we are installing.

Step 2: Creating a Build Directory

Next, we will create a directory where we will build our driver. Run the following commands:

mkdir -p ~/build
cd ~/build
  • mkdir is the command to make a directory.
  • -p is a parameter that tells mkdir to create parent directories as needed.
  • ~/build is the directory we are creating.
  • cd is the command to change the current directory.

Step 3: Cloning the Driver Repository

Now, we will clone the rtl8821CU driver repository from GitHub using the following command:

git clone
  • git is a distributed version control system.
  • clone is a git command to copy a repository.
  • is the URL of the repository we are cloning.

Step 4: Building and Installing the Driver

Navigate into the cloned repository:

cd rtl8821CU

Then, build and install the driver using the following commands:

sudo make install
  • make is a utility that automatically builds executable programs and libraries from source code.
  • sudo make install is a command to install the built program.

Step 5: Loading the Driver Module

Finally, load the driver module by running:

sudo modprobe 8821cu
  • modprobe is a Linux command to add a loadable kernel module (LKM) to the Linux kernel or to remove an LKM from the kernel.
  • 8821cu is the name of the module we are adding.


Now, your USB WiFi dongle should be recognized and operational. You can check if it is working by connecting to a WiFi network through your network configuration manager. If you encounter any issues, you may need to explore alternative drivers or solutions specific to your device.

Remember to restart your system after completing the installation process for the changes to take effect.

This guide should have provided you with a clear path to installing and using the Realtek RTL8811CU WiFi dongle on Ubuntu 18.04. Happy browsing!

Can I use this guide for other versions of Ubuntu?

This guide is specifically written for Ubuntu 18.04. While it may work on other versions, it is recommended to find a guide specifically tailored to your Ubuntu version for optimal results.

Do I need to be connected to the internet during the installation process?

Yes, you need an active internet connection to download the necessary files and dependencies during the installation process. Make sure you are connected to the internet before proceeding with the steps.

Can I use this guide for a different WiFi dongle model?

No, this guide is specifically written for the Realtek RTL8811CU WiFi dongle. Different WiFi dongle models may have different driver requirements and installation processes. It is recommended to find a guide specifically tailored to your WiFi dongle model for accurate instructions.

How can I uninstall the driver if I encounter any issues?

To uninstall the driver, navigate to the rtl8821CU directory in the build directory where you cloned the driver repository. Then, run the command sudo make uninstall. This will remove the installed driver from your system.

Do I need to restart my system after installing the driver?

Yes, it is recommended to restart your system after completing the installation process. Restarting will ensure that the changes take effect and the driver is properly loaded.

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