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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 davidwr (791652) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @08:50AM (#25119533) Homepage Journal

    Gun and air-conditioning aside, devices should not allow accidental bricking or physical damage unless it is inherent in the function of the hardware.

    For cases of loading bad firmware, the "load new firmware" instruction should have a few failsafes like magic words or what-not so it isn't accidentally invoked.

    Even better, hardware devices should have a failsafe firmware burned on silicon that can be reactivated by flipping a switch, setting a jumper, or some other hardware-action-required setting. This "failsafe firmware" may be nothing more than a stub that prepares the device to accept a new "real" firmware, but at least it will allow de-bricking.

    You don't really want this debrick/failsafe-mode to be triggerable through software alone, it's too much of an opportunity for malicious use.

  • Oh great. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @08:51AM (#25119543) Homepage
    Remember when Dell told customers that installing Linux on their computers voided the warranty?

    Remember how everyone on /. called bullshit?

    This doesn't look good for our cause.

  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @09:43AM (#25120387) Homepage Journal
    Except for the multitude of cards that require you to basically reflash the firmware as part of the initialization? Cheap 802.11 cards are notorious for this, and it's a pain because it means you have to ship a binary blob with the driver and all of the licensing headaches that entails.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @09:53AM (#25120585)
    Let's say intel does test with Linux, and releases a GPL driver. Then debian programmers make a few changes to eliminate compiler/valgrind warnings (remember ssh?). Oops, they didn't know what they were doing and now your ethernet card is bricked. But, hey, they got rid of that compiler warning. Open source FTW!
  • by X0563511 (793323) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @10:46AM (#25121483) Homepage Journal

    Can you get us an ISBN for that book? The non-ASCII character in there got mangled by slashdot (or my browser) and all search results based on my assumptions, are trash.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @10:55AM (#25121673)

    Those cards need their on-card software reloaded every time because they use volatile memory to store it. Any changes to that memory are gone the next time you power off the computer. Depending on the rest of the hardware, that code could still damage the card though (software controlled voltage regulators, fans and amplifiers come to mind).

If it's worth hacking on well, it's worth hacking on for money.

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