Configuring an Ethernet Device Driver

In most cases, the system correctly configures the network device driver without any help from the system administrator. Most drivers probe the card to discover the correct configuration. Additionally, the Ethernet drivers expect the adapters to use the manufacturer's default configuration, and if they do, no configuration changes are needed. But these techniques don't always work. When they don't, Ethernet adapter configuration parameters can be passed to the kernel through the boot prompt (as described in Chapter 1) for drivers that are compiled into the kernel. Optional configuration settings can be passed to loadable module Ethernet drivers using the insmod command. For example, the insmod command that tells the smc-ultra.o driver to use IRQ 10 and I/O port address 340 is insmod smc-ultra.o io=0x340 irq=10

Additionally, most distributions provide tools to simplify setting the hardware configuration of Ethernet device drivers. Figure 2.1 shows you the Network Configuration tool that Red Hat provides. In Figure 2.1, we use the tool to configure the TCP/IP software. By selecting the Hardware tab, we could have used the Network Configuration tool to set the I/O port address and the IRQ for the Ethernet device driver.

Figure 2.1: Red Hat's Network Configuration tool

It is not necessary to create a custom configuration for the driver if the card uses the manufacturer's default configuration, or if the driver can detect the correct configuration. Configuration conflicts are a problem only with older adapters. Manual hardware configuration is needed only in rare circumstances.

Figure 2.1: Red Hat's Network Configuration tool

It is not necessary to create a custom configuration for the driver if the card uses the manufacturer's default configuration, or if the driver can detect the correct configuration. Configuration conflicts are a problem only with older adapters. Manual hardware configuration is needed only in rare circumstances.

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