[nSLUG] Happy Meal Ethernet

Donald Teed dteed at artistic.ca
Fri Mar 14 09:59:02 AST 2003

Sounds strange, but that is the name of the ethernet device in my Sun box.
Also known as HME.

It is running Debian 3.0 sparc.

I've been battling a little problem with reliability of this machine's
ethernet connection.  I've seen some discussion of it in mailing lists
accessible to google, and some people claimed the problem was fixed in
kernel 2.4.19 .  I've tried that, I've tried .20, and I've tried
compiling my own kernel of .20 from source.  I checked the source
for sunhme.c and there are some comments in there about buggy hardware.
This section of Linux source is a little famous for having several
instances of rude comments embedded in the source.  It may have been
a very frustrating project.

I thought for a little while that ethtool, used to set the speed and
duplex, was my solution.  Things were a little more reliable, but still
not absolute.

The typical trigger point for the ethernet to fail is a burst of data.
For example, an nmap probe from another machine, or fast scrolling text
output from a ssh session will cause the connection to close or fail.

Often I cannot get it back by running ifdown/ifup and ethtool - I need
to do a full reboot.  Tried restarting the networking init.d as well -
no luck and I end up rebooting.

Running test net from bootprom doesn't reveal hardware problem.

Given that there are some other people with this problem, and the amount of
cussing in the driver source, I am thinking this is just a buggy
hardware/driver combination.

I thought I'd bounce this problem out here in case someone has encountered
it before or can suggest a more reliable SBUS ethernet device to seek out.
I should try the Sparc Linux mailing list too.

I'm not running any essential service on this old box, but it is useful
to me and annoying to reboot every second day.

--Donald Teed

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