Intel 8265 wifi card destabilises system - 16.04 w/HWE kernel

by Gargravarr   Last Updated January 18, 2018 17:02 PM

A recent kernel update seems to have drastically destabilised my laptop - a Dell Precision M3520. The device shows in lspci as:

02:00.0 Network controller [0280]: Intel Corporation Device [8086:24fd] (rev 78)  
  Subsystem: Intel Corporation Device [8086:0050]

It had been working fine for months, but over Xmas it began to freeze when used on wifi. From the logs I determined it was the wifi card and reinstalled the OS. Whilst this has made it stable again, it's now on the default 16.04 kernel 4.4.0-109, and the wifi card is not usable at all. I understand the card needs at least a 4.8 kernel to work, but my attempts to install a newer kernel haven't worked:

  • I've installed the HWE standard kernel (linux-signed-image-generic-hwe-16.04), which as of today is 4.13.0-26. As soon as the UI loads, Network-Manager lists no devices at all (including wired ethernet) available, and trying to sudo locks up the terminal. The OS stability degrades from there until the whole UI freezes and I have to hard-reboot the machine. Logs show CPU warnings from the kernel with the iwlwifi module consuming many seconds of CPU time without response.
  • I tried the latest available 4.8 kernel, 4.8.0-58, but this caused odd problems on the disk encryption screen - the password box did not focus and my password ended up visible in the corner of the screen, so I wasn't able to boot it up.
  • I have tried downloading the latest device firmware directly from Intel (iwlwifi-8265-22.ucode) with the HWE kernel but this made no difference.
  • I can't remember what kernel release I was on before the stability problems.

I do not really have the option to upgrade beyond 16.04 as it's a company laptop and our standard distro is LTS. I can't really wait for 18.04; is there any way to make this work while staying on 16.04, e.g. is there a known good kernel for this wifi card I can try?

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