[ Update: For lenny RC1 and bnx2 issues read this blog post instead. What follows are my troubles with the beta 1 installer for lenny. ]
Management got us a Dell PowerEdge 1950. It was decided that it would run Debian. I got the Etch businesscard installation CD and booted the machine. The installation progressed, but after the network configuration it could not resolve its name. From the alternative console I found out that the ethernet interface was recognized and setup correctly, but no packets were coming in or going out. What a perfect way to waste the workday: Could it be the cable? Not it was not. Could it be the switch? Nope, the switch was working perfectly. Could it be the (bnx2) driver then?
I booted the machine using the Lenny’s beta 1 businesscard CD. The installation completed in a flash. Then the machine rebooted and …the network interface was not recognized. It turns out that bnx2 is not included in the latest version of the linux kernel that is installed by Lenny (see the Binary Firmware Inventory). So the installer supports the network card, but the installed system does not.
I decided to work with Etch again. I downloaded the full Etch CD-1 and installed the system. Again the network could not be reached, but the installation for a (tasksel) standard system completed successfully. I also installed make, gcc and kernel-package so as to be able to compile a new kernel. Since the problem might be that the driver is loaded as a module, I compiled and installed a kernel with bnx2 included (CONFIG_BNX2=y). Nope that did not work either. bnx2 is the driver for the Broadcom NetXtreme II. Fortunately Broadcom distributes the linux driver sources from their site. I built a new kernel without bnx2 support (CONFIG_BNX2=n) and installed bnx2 as a module from the broadcom sources. Again no luck.
Then it struck me: The Dell PowerEdge 1950 has two network interfaces, marked as Gb #1 and Gb #2. All this time (including the Lenny installation that worked via the network) I was working with network interface Gb #1. I plugged the ethernet cable into interface Gb #2. The network was working perfectly.
So, Etch (linux-2.6.18 ) sees NIC Gb #2 as eth0, whereas the Lenny beta1 installer sees NIC Gb #1 as eth0 !
I shut down the machine and went home.
I wanted to cry.