Forum OpenACS Q&A: Wanted: Co-operative ethernet card

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Posted by Ola Hansson on
Hi everybody,

Lots of people here with ethernet card experience I presume...

I think I am going to have to by a new NIC as my old ISA Dlink 250T
card (NE2000 compatible) refuse to function on my web server box (it
works in another Linux box though?!?).
Everything appears normal on "ifconfig" but it's only receiving one
packet when I ping its address...

Just in case I give up the efforts, do any of you guys have a
recommendation on what card I should buy that won't give me a hard
time upon installation? Preferably a cheap one, I should add.

My system is: AMD K6-3 450, RH 6.2 kernel 2.2.18.


Posted by Edmund Lian on
The Intel and 3Com cards work well. They're a little bit more expensive than the DLink cards, but are more reliable. I've had two DLink cards flake out on me in the last 6 months, and they were new!
Posted by Ken Kennedy on
I agree with Edmund. I couple of extra bucks can make a big difference when you don't have to worry about the NIC. I usually buy 3Com. If you're looking to go cheap, get 10MBit (vs. 10/100 MBit). Nobody's 10MBit card's are THAT expensive nowadays...*grin*
Posted by Don Baccus on
I also am a 3Comm fan.  I own six of them, with five currently in use, mostly 3c509 10MBS cards.  The last two cost me $25 each (they used to be expensive, but 10MBS and ISA aren't "in" things).

They work great with RH 6.2 but you need to add the line "alias eth0 3c509" to your conf.modules file.

I think the PCI cards are autodetected but don't remember for sure.

I've never had a problem with any of my 3Comm NICs, so I've never bothered buying anything else, except for my LinkSys PCMIA Combo for my laptop.  That's also cheap (about $25 at Fry's).  Linux autodetects TP or BNC which is handy as my home LAN here in Oregon's been around for awhile and is BNC, while my girlfriend's computer in Boston has a TP connector.  Linux also figured out what it was without any help at all, while I had to load the driver back when the laptop ran Windows...

Posted by Todd Gillespie on
I think I am going to have to by a new NIC as my old ISA Dlink 250T card (NE2000 compatible) refuse to function on my web server box (it works in another Linux box though?!?). Everything appears normal on "ifconfig" but it's only receiving one packet when I ping its address...
Is your distro new on your web server? (ie, could this be software??).

I had a similar problem with some new machines that had fresh VA Linux 7.0 (a RedHat spawn) installs; turns out ping refused to play without some response from DNS (I hadn't hooked them into the outside world, and ping tried reverse lookups). Your symptoms sound the same; I would get one packet response followed by (7000ms * n) gaps on subsequent packets, but ifconfig looked fine. Try 'ping -n'.

Before you buy more, find out what's broken!! Wasting money is what consultants are for!

When you move to 100BaseT and buy a new card anyway, go for 3Com, or something with the Tulip chip. Either should be fine.

Posted by S. Y. on

My standard admonition is for you to visit the Hardware Compatability List for your distribution and quit screwing around trying to get some moldy old ISA NIC to work. Here are two suggestions though:

Intel EtherExpress Pro 100+ (PILA8460) - 82557 chipset - About $50 OEM. Virtually all Linux distros support this card. It's used heavily as an onboard NIC and many other OSes (BSD, Win9x, WinNT, etc.) support this card. This is the only chipset that is flagged for compilation in a generic kernel tarball. People who don't want to pound their heads against a brick wall for half a day trying to get a $50 component to work will use this card.

Bay Networks NetGear FA301TX - uses the DEC tulip.o driver About $20 retail. You have to manually compile support into the kernel or insert the module yourself. Good for people who know what they're doing and want to save a couple of bucks.

If you're running an always-on web server, you don't need any of that wake-up on LAN/network management stuff. Just get the cheap OEM version of the appropriate card (although the NetGear card is so cheap, it's probably a waste of time/money looking for a place that even offers it OEM).

Posted by Alex Sokoloff on
I've had great luck with the Netgear FA310TX also. I don't think they're particularly highly regarded, but I've had 3 or 4 of them and they were all trouble free under RH 6.2 and NT. It's fully supported under the RH 6.2 standard install, by the way. Just select the tulip driver and off you go. I have two in my linux box :)
Posted by Don Baccus on
Well, Sean, my moldy old 3Comm cards don't require one to pound their heads against a brick wall for half a day, and as I said I do believe their PCI cards are autodetected.

The Tulip chipset cards are good.

The main argument most folks have against 3Comm cards is that they charge too much for them.  Which they do.  But they work, as several others besides me have pointed out.  My NICs will probably outlive me.

And they're supported by Linux officially, so they're on that precious list you mention.

Posted by S. Y. on
Don, I'm glad you've had lots of success with your 3COM cards

For a brief while, I had a borrowed 3COM ISA card that worked just fine on Red Hat 5.2 (fall 1998), so I have known for a long time that just because a NIC is an moldy old ISA card doesn't mean it can't function. I have no grudge against your cards or any others in the 3COM product line.

My point is that if you have an old card lying around, it's best to check to see if it's listed on the Hardware Compability List(s) before trying to configuring it. The lists also offer suggestions for alternate drivers (e.g., 3COM's own drivers for the 3C905C models) as well as "community-offered" tips on configuration and compatibility so if one is having problems with hardware configuration, it might have been easily solved by reading the notes first.

Posted by Ola Hansson on
Thanks for your answers!

I gave it one more chance and tried Todd's suggestion, ping -n, which worked. The error was in /etc/resolv.conf where I had misstyped the nameserver addresses (duh!). Sorry for crying wolf...
I'll return to these postings though when I *really* need a new card (i.e., when the wolf is at the door;-).

Posted by Malachi Kenney on

Don, sorry to mention this, but the thing most people have against 3com cards is that they seem to be a bit slower and a bit more resource hungry than do their Intel counterparts. I didn't think expensive was one of their major faults. I have an entire home wired with them because they were dead cheap. Now that you can get Intel nics for about 50 bucks, though, 3com makes a bit less sense than it did.

Still, using a 3com or an Intel will almost always yield good results. I've also had a good bit of luck with D-Link 4-port cards based on the aging tulip chips and fantastic experiences with the hideously expensive Adaptec Starfire nics.