Latest Ubuntu Alpha Damaging Intel NICs

It appears that a bug in a network driver used in the kernel of the latest alpha release of the popular Ubuntu Linux distro is damaging Intel network controllers, sometimes irreparably.

In bug #263555 on the website titled, "[intrepid] 2.6.27 e1000e driver places Intel ICH8 and ICH9 gigE chipsets at risk", it is noted that the NVRAM on Intel 82566 and 82567 based LAN controllers is being corrupted, but the bug seems to have affected only notebook users at this point...

"In some circumstances it appears possible for the 2.6.27-rc kernels to corrupt the NVRAM used by some Intel network parts to store data such as MAC addresses.

This is limited to the new e1000e driver, and reports have only appeared from users of "82566 and 82567 based LAN parts (ich8 and ich9)" (to quote Intel). The reports seem to be isolated to laptops, but it is not clear if this is because desktop/server parts are not vulnerable, or if use cases simply increase the chances of laptop users being hit.

Once this corruption has occurred, recovery may be possible via a BIOS update, but may well require replacement of the hardware. Use of Intel's IABUTIL.EXE is strongly discouraged, as it will worsen the problem to the point where the network part will no longer appear on the PCI bus."

A myriad of users / testers have commented on the bug and there is a patch available for another similar networking bug, that unfortunately is not 100% effective. There are also instructions in the comments that explain how to save a copy of the data stored in the NIC's eeprom, should user's currently unaffected by the bug want to store a backup in the event the bug pops up at a later point.

A common thread among users is that the distro should be pulled down until the bug is fixed. Although this is an alpha release and bugs are expected, testing an alpha release shouldn't result in a damaged hardware. What say you?
Tags:  Intel, Ubuntu, Nic, test, Alpha, Mag, Aging, ICS, AG, AMA, BU, AM

blog comments powered by Disqus