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Broadcom 5700 Gigabit Ethernet on RedHat EL4

© March 2006 Anthony Lawrence
March 2006

I went into a customer's site yesterday to finish up the install of Linux on a new HP server. They had already done the OS, but had gotten stuck at the ethernet configuration.

When I arrived, all the tech support folk were off in a meeting, so I let myself into the server room: they have a numeric key lock on the door and I knew the combination. This is one of the few sites I know of where the server room is restricted in any way, by the way.

Finding the new server was easy enough, though this place always confuses me because there are several KVM switches and the wires snake around and criss-cross each other - I always have trouble figuring out which physical hardware is which. The new box was easy to spot though, and had not been integrated with the KVM yet so I was able to get at it easily.

I found the network configuration tool was up and running showing an un-activated 3COM 3c59x card. That didn't make sense: I wasn't sure what was in here yet, but I was quite sure it was a Gigabit card. But that's what you'll get if RedHat doesn't find any card: the network setup just shows the first network module it finds. Silly, really: they should probably put a dummy "0.o" module that would show up as "We can't find a card" if it's so much trouble to fix that setup tool.

I walked arund the back of the rack just to make sure the network was plugged in: it was, but to eth1. I switched it and returned to the front.

To find out what the network card really is, I used "lspci". That showed the two nics:

05:04.0 Ethernet controller: Broadcom Corporation: Unknown device 1668 (rev a2)
05:04.1 Ethernet controller: Broadcom Corporation: Unknown device 1668 (rev a2)

Hmm.. that didn't tell me much. I rebooted the machine, intending to get into setup. The various screens went by, then very quickly something about CTRL-S and then a very quiick flash where I made out something that included F10 and the machine was booting Linux again! Sheesh! Don't be in such a darn hurry! I didn't even get time to see the screens to know what key to hit! I tried again, and missed it once more. For the third try, I poised my fingers over the function keys and whacked down F9 just after that Ctrl-S disappeared. That gave me the BIOS and in there I was able to determine that these were HP NC324i cards: specifically, "HP NC324i Integrated Dual Port PCI Express Gigabit Server Adapter". That gave me the clue I needed for Google, and a moment of searching with one of the Windows servers gave me the links I needed:


But for crying out loud, it's a source RPM. Worse, it needs kernel sources to compile! Well, the readme file says you don't actually need to recompile the kernel for RedHat EL4, but you do still have to install the kernel sources.

Aaaargh. I muttered unpleasantries and made faces. I was in a locked room all by myself, but who knows: there may be security cameras watching. If so, they saw a ticked off consultant.

My wife would say "What's your problem? You are getting paid by the hour - just do it". Well, yeah, fine, but.. it just ticks me off. I had to spend the time to install the kernel source code, build the rpm, and then, finally, install it. I'd rather be paid for doing something useful, not shuffling cd's. Oh well: it had to be done, so I did it. After installing the RPM, I rebooted, and Kudzu saw the card and asked for IP information. I gave it, and after the machine was up checked the firewall configuration to be sure ssh would be allowed on eth0. I checked connectivity with "Putty" from one of the Windows boxes and all was well.

There's more work to be done here: this box replaces another Linux web server that suffered a crash and has never been quite right since. I'll be working on that remotely now that the machine is up and running.

Got something to add? Send me email.

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