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I am working on getting wireless up and running on my Ubuntu 12.04 machine. In this tutorial, the guy says "your network controller is your Wi-Fi." To me, that seems to imply that the network controller is the piece of hardware that handles your wireless connection. Does the network controller also handle your Ethernet connection? When I run lspci and grep for network I see that my Network controller is a Realtek Semiconductor Co. device. What exactly does that device do? My Ethernet is working fine. Do I need to find a driver that will handle both wired and wireless connections for this network controller? Or do I need a Wi-Fi driver for the network controller because the network controller only handles Wi-Fi.

$ lspci -vvnn | grep Network
03:00.0 Network controller [0280]: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. Device [10ec:818b]
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Try a "softer" search pattern, there are 2 hw controllers for me Ethernet and Network, each hw device requires a driver.

Here's mine.

$ lspci -vvnn |grep -i net
03:00.0 Network controller [0280]: Atheros Communications Inc. AR9285 Wireless Network Adapter (PCI-Express) [168c:002b] (rev 01)
07:00.0 Ethernet controller [0200]: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL8111/8168B PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet controller [10ec:8168] (rev 06)
$ 
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To me, that seems to imply that the network controller is the piece of hardware that handles your wireless connection.

Yes.

Does the network controller also handle your ethernet connection?

No. lspci identifies that as an Ethernet controller.

When I run lspci and grep for network I see that my Network controller is a Realtek Semiconductor Co. device. What exactly does that device do?

That's your wifi chipset, it might be better to think of it as a "Wifi controller".

Do I need to find a driver that will handle both wired and wireless connections for this network controller? Or do I need a wifi driver for the network controller because the network controller only handles wifi.

The 03:00.0 at the beginning of the lspci output is a bus/slot number for the device. Most likely, there is already a driver loaded. To check, look in /sys/pci/devices/0000:03:00.0/driver/module/drivers; it will probably contain a symlink reference to something in /sys/pci/drivers.

Or do I need a wifi driver for the network controller because the network controller only handles wifi.

Unless you have some unusual hardware the kernel should already have a driver for both the ethernet and wifi controllers loaded.

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