Ethernet Cards

In order to take advantage of Wellesley College's Ethernet with a Linux machine, some work must be done before the install to identify the Ethernet card and the drivers for the card. Ethernet drivers are small chunks of code written to tell an operating system how to interface correctly with a given card. Those drivers written for Linux are quite specific, and although the cards may be similar, the drivers may not be.

The Ethernet cards that are supported by RedHat Linux are listed by manufacturer. In order to be certain that the card in the new system will work with Linux, the card should be listed either in Tier 1 or Tier 2 of the list of supported Ethernet cards. The card name must exactly match, or there is no certainty that it will work. Drivers for the unlisted cards may be available on the 'Net from those who have written them, but finding them is likely to be fiendishly difficult.

If the Ethernet card came pre-installed in the machine, or if there is no information as to what kind of card it is, it will take a bit of work to find out the make and model number of the card. The simplest way, if the computer is still running Windows 95/98, is to look under the System Control Panel, Device Manager. The Ethernet card should be listed there. Write down any and all strings of numbers and letters that you see there. (For example, Ariel's card was listed as a 3c509B-TPO.) Once the card has been identified, make a note of the manufacturer. If the card is Plug'n'Play, a visit to the company's website will be in order to determine how to turn off this feature. RedHat Linux does not support Plug'n'Play as of version 5.2.

If the computer isn't running Windows, then it becomes necessary to physically examine the Ethernet card. Determining the make and model number of the card in the machine is necessary to continue during one part of the install, so leaving this step until the middle of the install is a bad idea. Start by unplugging all the cords that lead to the computer, and then make sure that there is no static electric charge built up on you or your clothes by touching something grounded, such as the power-supply casing for the computer.

Remove the card from its socket carefully and examine both sides of it. Written on the card in various locations should be:

Once this data has been obtained, carefully reseat the card in its slot in the computer, and close up the case.

The next thing you need to do is determine the Ethernet Address on the card, so that the Network Gurus can verify that the correct computer receives the correct IP address. The Ethernet Address is a permanent part of your card, and will be written down on the side of the card. If it was necessary to remove the card, it should already be jotted down along with the serial number, make, and model of the card. If the computer is still running Windows, however, go to the Start Menu and chose "run". At the prompt, type C:\WINDOWS\Winipcfg.exe and the computer will display a screen that contains the Ethernet address of the card in the computer.

This information is sufficient to install the Ethernet card.

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Created: February 4, 1999
Last updated: May 17, 1999