I solved the problem! I had hoped the problem would go away with a newer kernel, so I downloaded 2.6.11 and went through the entire Debian kernel upgrade process outlined here
. I again had a fully functional kernel, with the exception of the network card.
Specs of the system in question:
IBM thinkpad T21
3Com hurrricane pci card (uses the 3c59x driver, built into the laptop)
It is an issue with all 2.6 kernels
I was going to repost this thread, but I did a little searching myself, and found the solution in a redhat mailing list archive. You can read the whole thread here
. SInce I was working with Debian instead of Redhat, I was skeptical, but I found the solution buried in the redhat group, in comment #88.
The problem was that because of the order the driver is loaded during boot, it doesn't function correctly. Here is the important output of a dmesg from a 2.6.11 kernel before I found th fix:
PCI: Enabling device 0000:00:03.0 (0000 -> 0003)
ACPI: PCI Interrupt Link [LNKC] enabled at IRQ 11
ACPI: PCI interrupt 0000:00:03.0[A] -> GSI 11 (level, low) -> IRQ 11
3c59x: Donald Becker and others. www.scyld.com/network/vortex.html
0000:00:03.0: 3Com PCI 3c556B Laptop Hurricane at 0x1400. Vers LK1.1.19
PCI: Setting latency timer of device 0000:00:03.0 to 64
*** EEPROM MAC address is invalid.
3c59x: vortex_probe1 fails. Returns -22
3c59x: probe of 0000:00:03.0 failed with error -22
Obviously the MAC address couldn't be invalid, since it worked in under the 2.4.27 kernel as well as in dual boot mode with winXP.
The SOLUTION: Of all the stupid annoying things, the way the 2.6 kernel deals with acpi was causing the crash. I should have thought of that, because besides the ethernet card, the battery monitor in KDE would not function, complaining about ACPI. In any case, here is all I needed to do to get the card to work:
change the line in /boot/grub/menu.lst from
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.11-take1 root=/dev/hda2 ro
and change it by adding acpi=off:
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.11-take1 acpi=off root=/dev/hda2 ro
Now the card works and the battery monitor works as well. If you use lilo I don't know if you can add the same acpi=off info anywhere, but if you have a nonfunctional 3com card, chances are good this may have something to do with why.