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Status of the e1000e Issue

October 3rd, 2008 by

This is an update on the status of the e1000e issue. Our openSUSE 11.1 Beta 1 release contained a bug that would cause the non-volatile memory (NVM) of the e1000e controller to be corrupted in certain hardware combinations. This NVM is shared with other components of the system.

We are still working on root-causing the issue, in close cooperation with developers from Intel and the general Linux community.

In the Beta 2 release, the e1000e driver has been augmented with several kernel patches that prevent all of the plausible scenarios where the NVM would be overwritten. This includes a patch that enables write-protection of the NVM. In order to corrupt the NVM with this patch in place, an application or kernel module would have to undo this write protection explicitly before being able to erase the NVM. Most of these protective measures have been implemented within the e1000e driver.

All tests performed so far have shown that with these protections in place, we are unable to reproduce the NVM corruption that could be seen with beta1. On some machines that were tested, a beta1 installation could lead to NVM corruption within 10-30 reboots, whereas a beta2 installation would perform 270 reboots without corrupting the NVM.

Therefore, we have made a conscious decision to leave the e1000e driver enabled by default. We think with the additional safeguards in place (most of which are part of the e1000e driver), the NVM is better protected than without loading the driver. This is based on the assumption that the e1000e driver shares the NVM with other parts of the system.

Nevertheless, users have the option to install beta2 with the e1000e driver disabled, by adding the following to the kernel command line when booting from the installation CD/DVD:

broken_modules=e1000e

This will prevent the driver from being loaded during installation, and will also add it to the file /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist, which will prevent it from being loaded automatically in the future.

Serious e1000e Driver Issue in SLE 11 Beta 1 and openSUSE 11.1 Beta 1

September 22nd, 2008 by

We have an important announcement regarding openSUSE 11.1 beta 1 and SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 beta 1:

The Intel e1000e driver on openSUSE 11.1 Beta 1 and SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 Beta 1 might have a serious issue with the potential to damage the network card in a way that it cannot be used any longer.

Intel and Novell are currently working to analyze and solve the issue.

For the time being:

Please do NOT USE:

openSUSE 11.1 Beta 1
or
SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 Beta 1

on systems with Intel e1000e hardware.

Any other hardware, including systems with Intel e1000 (without -e) network cards, is not affected by this issue.

We will keep you posted. Please watch news.opensuse.org and the opensuse-announce mailing list for more information.

Update: Check this page for a list of devices that use the e1000e driver. It may not be an exhaustive list. If you have an Intel PCI Express PRO/1000 gigabit Ethernet card, it uses the e1000e driver and you should avoid booting or using beta 1. Intel has instructions on how to identify your card.