Bad NICs (was Collision Lights go Crazy)

Ben Kosse BKosse at
Tue May 11 21:20:28 GMT 1999

NICs with Linux.

> > I think I have tracked down the problem though.  even 
> though it may not
> > look like it, I think that the 3com NIC is bad.  I put a 10 
> baseT only
> > Realtek card in a cliant, and it works fine.. Is there any 
> known problems
> > with 3COM 905b's running at 10 Mbits and SAMBA.  anyway, I 
> think I will
> > buy Intel NICs from now on.. I have had good luck with them 
> in the past.
> > Dont know what got into me to get the 3Com stuff, but anyway.
Yes, the 905B is a piece of (explitive deleted). It is not fully PCI
compliant. The original 905 (note the lack of a B) is functional. I don't
know the state of the 905B driver under Linux but I'd recommend staying away
from their NICs based on my experience with the 905B (and "C" which is an
updated version of the 905B).

> My experience has been just the opposite (my old 3COM 509 combo-
> everything ISA card works great with linux and windoze, but RealTek 
> based cards suck).  Also, the Intel cards have a few known bugs 
> (see the linux ethernet HOWTO) in the hardware/firmware that cause 
> problems under DOS/windoze and linux.  
Yes, this is true, however the latest drivers (in the 2.2 kernels) have all
these worked out except for a multicast bug. The multicast bug only comes
into play if you have IP Multicasting enabled in the kernel and are doing
several multicast packets (i.e. running an MBone server or something).

Plus, those cards go through some serious testing since 1) Linus uses them
at work and 2) a lot of Transmeta uses them at work.

I have 2 machines (P90/24MB RAM and a K6-233/64MB RAM) at home connected on
a 100mbps hub with the EEPro cards. They work like a charm and get very fast
throughput. I haven't measured it because I'm limited by the disk drive. The
P90 is still usable while sending/receiving a huge file provided I'm not
hitting the disk much.

> I just spent a number of 
> hours testing and troubleshooting a few ne2000 PCI cards (with the 
> RealTek 8029 chip and the WinBond chip).  The upshot?  They all 
> suck, don't waste your money or time on them.  The sad part is that 
> most vendors seem to have latched onto these brain-dead chips as 
> their chip-of-choice for the low-end (cheap) PCI NICs.  They're 
> only a little bit cheaper than the good chips (the DEC tulip 
> 2104x/2114x and the AMD "lance" successor), but hardly anyone seems 
> to use the good ones anymore.  One of the only PCI cards I could 
> find in a combo model that still uses the 2114x chip is the SMC 
> EtherPower PCI combo card.
Can't say about them other than their burst rates under Linux are slightly
faster than the Intel EtherExpress Pro but their average throughput is

Ben Kosse
PC Technician
Coldwater Creek, Inc.
(208) 265-7114

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