Debian Lenny upgrades: watch out for the bnx2 firmware!

While installing a new server, I noticed that Debian kicked the bnx2 firmware for the Broadcom NetXtreme II (like found in HP DL3xx and Dell PowerEdge servers), to non-free. The installer kindly asks to provide the firmware on an USB stick. That can be quite annoying. but if you install a new server, it's not such a big problem as you won't break any existing things.

Now I was wondering... what would happen if you upgrade an existing Etch system to Lenny? I did the test... While upgrading, you'll see a small warning while the initrd gets generated:

"W: Possible missing firmware /lib/firmware/bnx2-09-4.0.5.fw for module bnx2"

If you miss or ignore that line, your server won't have any bnx2 network interfaces when booting the new kernel, till somebody boots the old kernel and and executes an apt-get install firmware-bnx2 from non-free... I'm glad I found that one before I started to upgrade my server in colo!

I'm a big Debian fan and it never let me down for servers, but personally, I think they made a big mistake here. If you do something that will certainly break a system, at least show the user a big warning please...

Anonymous (not verified)

Wed, 25/03/2009 - 23:53

Thanks for the warning
Do you have any guidance of how I can upload de missing firmware in a fresh install? I'm supposed to get de .deb file or what? In the last case, where?
How can I give what the installer is asking for...

Hey.. I was nearly rebooting but then I decided to check what that firmware warning may mean... thank you for saving my weekend... which would look different for sure without your hint!

Btw.. maybe you can add OpenID to your blog for authorising comments? :)

ewedel (not verified)

Sat, 27/06/2009 - 21:39

Here's another heartfelt thanks, you saved me a lot of aggravation. Wanted to add however that the current latest kernel 2.6.26-2-amd64 doesn't seem to work even with the firmware-bnx2 package loaded (PowerEdge 2900 / Broadcom BCM5708). Falling back to 2.6.26-1-amd64 got it working.

Thomas (not verified)

Tue, 20/10/2009 - 15:39

Dude, your hind saved my life! Thanks a lot.

Hi, well just to add my thoughts/small part to it all,

Before you hit the upgrade button:

add a line to your /etc/apt/sources.list
copy your regulair stable main line and edit it to:
"stable nonfree" instead of "stable main"

Now hit: "apt-get update; apt-get upgrade; apt-get install firmware-bnx2;"

This last one should re-process the highest kernel. If it doesnt, reinstall the kernel-image (linux-image) and uninstall/reinstall firmware-bnx2. I was one of those people unfortunate enough to have to do the step twice since my system was too bugged with all the /etch stuff still being processed.

Reboot the system, and it should work just fine!

Jonathan (not verified)

Sat, 08/05/2010 - 19:04

That saved me a walk to the server facility, when I noticed the warning during a dist-upgrade of a customer's server.

Manolopm (not verified)

Thu, 17/06/2010 - 10:08

Thanks mate! That solve me hours of work :)

Anonymous (not verified)

Fri, 24/09/2010 - 19:04

In lenny the when you download the firmware the files are still missing when running update-initramfs -u
By soft linking the bnx2 in the /lib/firmware// folder in the /lib/firmware folder the files are found.

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