A couple of months ago I came home to a Myth server with a kernel crash report on the console. The problem was in e1000.ko. This had happened once or twice before over the last year or so and I wasn’t overly concerned. I rebooted and the machine hung after detecting hard drives. I was able to figure out the problem and I’m still dealing with Intel customer support (but they’re doing a good job!).
When I had the time to debug the problem I started up the computer and it booted fine. I thought it had booted fine but it turns out that the machine couldn’t find the network card, an Intel gigabit adapter. `lspci` showed nothing even though there was a link light. I found that to be strange but I was still very happy the problem wasn’t more serious. I re-seated the card and rebooted. This time the computer wouldn’t boot again. I removed the network card from the machine and rebooted. This time the computer booted fine. I repeated this a few times until I was pretty confident that the network card was causing the boot process to stop. I found it extremely odd that the network controller card was stopping the boot process before even the bootloader started executing. I brought the network card into work and tested it on a spare machine. I saw the same behavior at work.
Most (all?) Intel network cards have a lifetime warranty. I called up Intel and was surprised at how easy it was to get through their customer support. They authorized a return and said I’d get an email telling me how to send the card back. Once they had the broken card they’d send me a replacement. They said it wouldn’t be the same model but it would be a current comparable model. I was fine with that.
Unfortunately I didn’t get the email that they promised. The reason is because I use Sender Verification on my mail server and they were sending using a non-existent email address. Since I also use Sender Verification at work I couldn’t call them and give them my work email address. I’d much prefer that they fix their sender address but I know there’s no hope in that happening with out enduring a whole lot of pain. I haven’t had the time yet to call them and request them to fax the directions.
I’m doing OK without the adapter. I’m using the 100 Mb on-board adapter on my Myth server. That’s fine for Myth. In fact my Myth frontend has a 100 Mb adapter anyways. Where I suffer is with my desktop machine which I run diskless.