So I needed to install Debian 5.0 Lenny x64 on a server at work. It happened to be a new model PowerEdge R710. We don’t really support Debian, so on the odd occasion it needs to be installed we do it by CD. I was using a net-install CD to start the installer as I normally do. The only problem was the installer would not recognize the NIC. Since this was a net-install CD, it tends to be a problem. I can’t go forward with the install and load the NIC drivers later.
So I do some research on google, and find out that I have the Broadcom 5709 chipset for the NIC card. It also needs some non-free firmware to load, which is apparently why it would not load automagically.
I then download all the files needed, and put them on an external floppy. I figured I would load them and be on my merry way… Wrong.
No matter what I did, I could not get it to load the NIC drivers/firmware and work. I tried everything I could think of for almost 2 hours. It also did not recognize the Perc 6 and RAID array, but that did not matter if I can’t even get the NIC to work. It was just another thorn in my side knowing there was another battle with the RAID controller drivers after I got the NIC working.
I eventually found out what the cause was. The BIOS.
The R710 I was trying to install on had BIOS version 1.0.4. I updated it to version 1.1.4 found Here. Apparently the new version fixes some PCI bugs that were giving me problems.
After that, the install ran mostly normal. It recognized the Broadcom NIC, and popped up a message saying it needed non-free firmware. I loaded the files I got from the debian mirror HERE on to a floppy, and loaded them into the installer. After that, it worked normally. It even recognized the RAID array on it’s own.
So after all that misery, it turned out to be a BIOS update. The only way I figured it out, was that we had another R710 with Debian installed the night before with no issues. After looking at it I noticed it had a newer BIOS version.