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Bug Software Networking Linux

OpenSUSE Beta Can Brick Intel e1000e Network Cards 129

Posted by timothy
from the price-of-progress dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Some Intel cards don't just not work with the new OpenSUSE beta, they can get bricked as well. Check your hardware before you install!" The only card mentioned as affected is the Intel e1000e, and it's not just OpenSUSE for which this card is a problem, according to this short article: "Bug reports for Fedora 9 and 10 and Linux Kernel 2.6.27rc1 match the symptoms reported by SUSE users."
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OpenSUSE Beta Can Brick Intel e1000e Network Cards

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  • by reashlin (1370169) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @09:30AM (#25119227)
    Any decent device driver should also not be writing to the firmware, which i'm guessing is how the device can become bricked.
  • Kernel fix, perhaps? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @09:38AM (#25119341)

    Kernel 2.6.27-rc7 has a changelog entry that reads:

    Christopher Li (1):
                e1000: prevent corruption of EEPROM/NVM

  • by arkhan_jg (618674) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @09:39AM (#25119367)

    A few years back, Mandrake merged a kernel patch in their new release that would accidentally brick certain LG CDROM drives using old firmware versions when it checked if it had writing capabilities. This was largely LG's fault for re-using a valid command code to mean 'start flashing me now' instead, and of course, no firmware was then forthcoming, leaving the drive in an unusable state.

    LG ended up replacing old affected drives, and the kernel patch was rewritten. Mandrake bore the brunt of the reputation hit though for quite a while, which I suspect will happen to SuSE.

    The e1000e driver is the new one for pci-e based intel pro 1000 chipsets, with the old pci and pci-x cards unaffected with the original e1000 driver. Still, that's going to be quite a lot of cards affected.

  • by neonprimetime (528653) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @09:46AM (#25119463)
    From: Christopher Li

    Andrey reports e1000 corruption, and that a patch in vmware's ESX fixed it.

    The EEPROM corruption is triggered by concurrent access of the EEPROM read/write. Putting a lock around it solve the problem.


    link [kernel.org]
  • by ronch (82516) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @09:51AM (#25119553)

    I work on the e1000 team (including the e1000e driver) and here is what we know. A panic in another driver (believed to be the gfx driver but uncertain) which scribbles over the NIC/LOM non-volatile memory (NVM). This is only happening with the 2.6.27-rc kernels on ICHx systems. Since the NIC/LOM VNM is part of the whole BIOS image other things in the system could be effected by this driver panic as well. An update of the system BIOS will restore the NIC/LOM to be operational. We have some patches under test right now that we will be releasing later today to protect the NIC/LOM NVM. That should help narrow down who is scribbling over NVM.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @10:01AM (#25119707)

    It appears that the bug is a combination of memory-mapped control registers which can enable flash writing and another (graphics related) problem which causes random data to be written to that area. The driver itself does not attempt to rewrite the firmware.

  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @10:34AM (#25120241)

    This with a suse bata not a finale release with Mandrake

  • by k.a.f. (168896) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @10:50AM (#25120517)

    I work on the e1000 team (including the e1000e driver) and here is what we know. A panic in another driver (believed to be the gfx driver but uncertain) which scribbles over the NIC/LOM non-volatile memory (NVM). This is only happening with the 2.6.27-rc kernels on ICHx systems. Since the NIC/LOM VNM is part of the whole BIOS image other things in the system could be effected by this driver panic as well. An update of the system BIOS will restore the NIC/LOM to be operational.

    In other words, as usual, the device is NOT bricked.

  • As I just pointed out elsewhere, that particular comment is not correct.
    A BIOS update *may* restore the NIC, but it depends purely on the BIOS update including that information.
    All of the available updates for my laptop do not include that, so the device was not recoverable. ie bricked.

  • by ChrisJones (23624) <cmsj-slashdotNO@SPAMtenshu.net> on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @11:09AM (#25120793) Homepage Journal

    the NVM is checksummed. If the checksum fails, the driver refuses to initialise the card.
    It seems that something is able to write garbage data to the NVM, leaving all of its settings broken.

    This isn't some database API where you get to do lots of nice high-level verification, this is twiddling bits in hardware. Of course it should be properly protected, and my discussions with Intel about this suggest that it is, and that something else is at work here, but until they release a fix, we won't know for sure.

    Also, their own DOS tools to restore NIC EEPROMs actually break the laptop NICs to the point that they won't enumerate on the PCI bus, so there is literally no hope of recovery unless you happen to have a BIOS update which will rewrite all of the memory the NIC uses.

  • by T.E.D. (34228) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @03:14PM (#25125389)

    I've written an E1000 driver (for a realtime program on a different OS). The issue is that once you have the base address registers for the card mapped into system memory, they are there. There's no super-special secret mechanisim devoted to writing only to the flash RAM.

    Oversimplifying things a great deal (so experts out there, please don't roast me over the nitty details), every PCI device in your system presents software drivers with up to 6 "Base Address Registers" (BARs). Most PCI devices really only use one or two of those. This is (mostly) the device-driver's only window into the PCI device.

    At bootup the system places the physical address [wikipedia.org] of the device's control registers and memory into its BARs. When the device driver starts up later, it grabs those physical addresses and maps them into virtual memory [wikipedia.org] so that software can get at them.

    Once this is done, *all* the device's control registers are avialble to software. If one of these registers can command the card to write data to flash (as one of the control registers on the E1000 does), then the proper (or improper) value written to that memory location by *anyone* will cause a flash write. Its that simple.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @05:04PM (#25127369)

    978-046502656, but you fail at being a nerd for not having read that book a long time age.

    That's 978-0465026562. Go home and practice copy and paste. The moving finger fails, and having failed, moves on.

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