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Old 01-25-2008, 02:53 PM   #1
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Network card module problems following power supply change on old Linux setup

Greetings all, and let me thank you in advance for this forum and allowing me to tap in to your collective expertise.

I have an odd problem with what has been a trusty old Linux box I built quite literally from spare parts several years ago. How old, you ask? Well, its built off a Cyrix 333Mhz CPU....and its been running almost 24x7 since. This machine has two nics, and serves as my firewall/gateway between my home network and my cable modem. It has served that role perfectly. (Slackware distro, Linux 2.2.13 kernel...I told you it was old...but its worked so well, I had no need to bother it). (VA-503+ mobo, PCI video card, 2xPCI network adapters, one via-rhine based card, one rtl8139 based card. Pretty barebones system.)

Anyway, the other night, I noticed the local network interface repeatedly going on/offline on the switch port...all lights on, all lights off...about three or four seconds at a time. Internet transfers were impossible. Changed port, changed switches (just to be sure), no difference.

After doing some tinkering, I began to suspect that the system's power supply was failing - particularly after the thing spontaneously shut down after rebooting a couple of times. I plopped in a new power supply, and that ended the spontaneous reboots and shutdowns. The netcard problem remained, however, so I pulled it out of the box.

Now, the module for the remaining card will not load. In fact, NO modules will load for ANY network card I've tried (regardless of slot) - the universal response to modprobe is "Device or resource is busy." Brand-new Tulip-based card: same thing. Other cards pulled from working systems...different modules, same thing.

Trying to start simply, I opted to get *one* card to work. Plugged it back in, and lspci -vvx shows cards on the bus, but always indicates it to be "Unknown Vendor/Unknown Device." /proc/interrupts does *not* see any network devices. I extracted the modprobe card test routine out of netconfig to see if *any* modules would load - no dice. Nothing detected.

Now, this may be a red herring, but...when I changed the power supply, I had to go from an AT to ATX style, and I wondered if that would change any of the power management characteristics of the board as Linux saw it. I thought I had dutifully disabled everything related to power management from the BIOS eons ago, but I wondered if any remnant thereof might have been "turned on" by virtue of the different power supply. I haven't yet had a chance to try "noacpi" or "acpi=off" from LILO.

Anyway, I really need to get this monster running again if at all possible. I've put a regular cable router in its place for now, but that doesn't give me my Samba emulation. The drives are in good shape, and given its fresh power supply should give me some more service. I hate to just toss it when in all likelihood I'm just missing something fundamental - unless something on the PCI bus is actually fried, which seems unlikely given that video, drives, etc all working.

In summation, right now, I'm stumped. At this point, I just don't know how to get past "Device or resource busy," so any suggestions or ideas would be most appreciated.

Old 01-26-2008, 02:24 PM   #2
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I have solved at least part of my problem on this situation, and while I realize there probably aren't many other 2.2.x kernels out there anymore, I thought I would share my experience.

I sorted out all the NICs I had available, and started to try them - one at a time - to see if I could get any of them to work. I started out with a DLink DFE-503TX+, which according to most of the sites I've been able to research is supposed to be a Realtek 8139C-based card. However, the realtek driver refused to touch the card, and the realtek diagnostic routine gave me information that *really* didn't make any sense.

I ran lspci -vvx, and took a look at the vendor and device ID. As they were reported as unrecognzed, I took a look at a current pci.ids file and discovered that the ID being reported was . I took a look at a new version of pci.ids, and discovered that the device ID actually mapped to a RHINE-III chip, which was contrary to what I'd read about the card.

Upon inspecting the card, I discovered that it is a DFE-503TX+ **Rev F2**, and Revision F2 is, in fact, a RHINE-III-based NIC. The version of the via-rhine module on my box wouldn't support this newer revision.

I then took a look on the net for a RHINE-III driver for Linux, and to be honest I didn't think I'd find one for the 2.2.x kernel - but I did. The driver was available for kernels up to 2.6.18 and specifically listed support for kernels back to 2.2.x. I burned the tarball on to a CD, mounted it on the linux box, opened it up, and the driver compiled perfectly the first time. This new driver replaced the "via-rhine" driver with "rhinefet", and modprobe loaded the driver instantly. I was able to configure the interface and get it back on the network.

I still have some other configuration tasks to accomplish, but at least this box is talking to the world again...



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