Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Installing Broadcom Netlink Fast Ethernet Driver For Linux On Vostro 1400

After I bought my new Vostro 1400 Notebook a few months ago, I installed CentOS 5 (read RHEL 5) on it and have been dual-booting it with Microsoft Windows Vista ever since. One big issue with installation of CentOS on Vostro 1400 is that the Broadcom Netlink Fast Ethernet card is not detected (the Intel ipw3945 Wireless card is also not recognized but details on that in a future post).

Research suggests that if you're running the latest 2.6 kernel with the tg3 module installed, your device should be recognized and working. Things are not that simple, though. The issue is that the tg3 module installed with the kernel 2.6 is old and doesn't recognize the ethernet card. All you need to do is install the latest version of the module (3.81c as of this writing), reboot your box, and Voila!

Here are step by step instructions for installing the Broadcom Netlink Fast Ethernet card on a Vostro 1400 Notebook running CentOS 5 (or RHEL 5 for that matter):

Note: You must have Internet connectivity to follow some of the steps specified below.
  1. Fire up your browser and navigate to Broadcom Ethernet NIC NetLink Driver Downloads page. Download the driver titled Linux (tg3).
  2. Open a terminal, login as root using the su command, and navigate to the directory where you downloaded the driver archive linux-3.81c.zip (latest as of this post).
  3. Unzip the downloaded archive:
    # unzip linux-3.81c.zip
  4. Navigate to the directory just unzipped:
    # cd Server/Linux/Driver/.
  5. Untar the arvhice tg3-3.81c.tar.gz:
    # tar -xvzf tg3-3.81c.tar.gz
  6. Navigate to the untarred directory:
    # cd tg3-3.81c
  7. Make the kernel module:
    # make
  8. The make process should output various binaries including tg3.ko which is the kernel module we are interested in. So, install the module:
    # make install
  9. Update kernel module dependencies:
    # /sbin/depmod -a
  10. Finally, reboot your machine.
Once your machine reboots, the Broadcom Netlink Fast Ethernet card should be available for you to configure. Configure the card using ifconfig or the Network Configuration GUI tool available through the System > Administration > Network menu, and enjoy using your
Broadcom Netlink Fast Ethernet card under Linux on your Vostro 1400 box!


Anonymous said...


It's great information.
I have followed all instruction to install the broadcom driver on vostro 1400. But I am unable to compile the source code of the driver it show's the "no rule to make target modules." with Error 2. Could you please guide me to overcome this issue.


Jan said...

It seems that the make file is not good. If you download the right driver and have development tools (like gcc) installed on your machine, you should be able to build and install the driver painlessly. I would suggest you post this issue at http://www.linuxquestions.org/.


Syl said...

Thanks alot....

It worked just as how you described it. I had to install dev pack..gcc and it compiled well to bring the interface up.

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot. It's great!
I download driver 3.116j, and follow your instruction, it works perfect!!!