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The Answer Guy

By James T. Dennis, tag@lists.linuxgazette.net
Starshine Technical Services, http://www.starshine.org/

(?)NE2000 "clones" --- not "cloney" enough!

From Jack on 08 Oct 1998

Hi, I am a huge fan of Linux and all that GNU stands for. I got my first taste of Linux back in the 0.99 days. Since that time I have poked and prodded along with different flavors of installation, but due to my work environment I have never been able to jump in with both feet. I have finally scraped together a modest system for my home use that I can dedicate to Linux, and wanted to get it set up as a network server. I have been reading articles, HOWTOs, and the like about setting up network access. Each of the refrences have always begun past the step where I am getting hung up. I cannot get the system to recognize my eithernet card.

True it is an NE2000 clone (cheap), but Win95 recognizes it just fine and the software packaged with it has no trouble locating the card, nor does the plug-n-pray BIOS. I read the Eithernet-HOWTO which tells about issuing commands during the lilo startup and tried that with the values returned from the packaged diagnostic software. I'm hoping this is just something I'm overlooking or mis-read or didn't read(yet), and not a situation where I need to upgrade the ethernet card (my last option). I came to you as my next to last option since you have given so many people good advice in the past. I hope you can help and look forward to hearing from you soon.


(!)Replace the ethernet card. Go get a Netgear (Tulip based) or a 3Com (3c509).
I had exactly the same problem when I first tried to configure a Linux system to use some NE2000 clone.
It probably has nothing to do with Plug-n-pray or IRQ's or I/O ports, or kernel drivers, or options, or your ifconfig command. I tried everything with that card --- and it just plain wasn't recognized!
Trust me. You can spend $30 (US) or less on a supported ethernet card and it will almost certainly just work. Or you can spend the same hours I did thinking "I must be stupid" and then go buy the card.
The term NE2000 should be taken with a large block of salt (the kind we use to haul out to the horse pastures when I was a kid). They are "NE2000 compatible" in about the same way as a "winmodem" is "Hayes compatible" --- only when you use them through the "supported" software.
True hardware level compatability involves using the exact same sets of I/O ports and other adnctions as the original. Most of the cheap NE2000 just aren't compatible, they have to supply their versions of the drivers --- and they only achieve "compatibility" through the software interfaces.

Copyright © 1998, James T. Dennis
Published in Linux Gazette Issue 34 November 1998

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