Debian Wheezy, Dell PowerEdge and Broadcom NetXtreme II / bnx2 driver


debian_evil_logoMany tried to install Debian Wheezy or an earlier edition of Debian on Dell server and came to the point, where installation required additional drivers for your network card. It’s pretty annoying thing and we aren’t used to such issues these days, since most distributions include almost all drivers you can imagine. 

As you may know Debian dropped bnx2 driver from their repositories, becouse they are proprietary and tagged as non-free. This means you ended up without support for your network card and probably failed to install Debian or at least left without internet connectivity and ability to download packages, needed to get your system up and running. It’s really a basic problem and solution, but some junior sysadmins may be hammering their heads how to fix this rather simple issue.


People suggest many ways, but the one I find most useful and convenient solution is actually making modification to your Debian install image. Best way is taking USB and making it bootable Wheezy install. Just download Wheezy as normal and use unetbootin to create your bootable USB. Afterwards mount your USB and go to the following download pages:

Download .deb packages and copy them into /mnt/firmware (assuming you mounted your USB on /mnt) Do not unpack or otherwise modify them. Installation will automatically find them and won’t even ask you for network drivers. Simply unmount USB and boot your server with newly created USB. Voila, everything goes smoothly.

Note: With DVD installation, you have to append these .deb packages into your ISO before burning it. It’s not really convenient way as USB, but oh well… a sysadmin’s got to do, what a sysadmin’s got to do.



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