driver_aliases Magic

I just learned a trick for use with /etc/driver_aliases that I wanted to share.

Last Friday I did a net install of Solaris 10 on an internal test system. It's some sort of x86 box; I don't have access to the lab to verify the type. When I rebooted after the net install, the system wasn't recognizing its network. ``ifconfig -a'' would only list lo0. I would have suspected that the NIC wasn't plugged in, except I had just installed it over the network.

Alan DuBoff explained to me that a likely cause of the problem was that the card was not listed in /etc/driver_aliases. The fix procedure was pretty simple:

  1. do ``prtconf -pv'' and look for a line for the NIC that appears to contain a driver_aliases entry. In this case it was
    model: 'PCI: 14e4,1645.1028.121.15 - Broadcom 5701 Gigabit Ethernet'
  2. Add a corresponding line to /etc/driver_aliases. In this case:
    bge "pci14e4,1645.1028.121"
  3. Reboot.
Comments:

Well, there's a catch: you need to be relatively sure that you know which driver you really want, and that the driver can indeed drive the card. It would also be helpful to file a bug with Sun on this point, listing:
  • prtconf -vp
  • prtconf -vD
  • The driver aliases entry you added
  • Whether the device worked completely, or not (for example, if it attaches but panicks under load, we'd need to do more work on the driver
Note also that it's not uncommon for this trick to fail-- the driver may indeed not be able to drive the card in question-- and the failure mode may range from a "failure to attach" to a panic.
Additionally, I would recommend to people: do not edit driver_aliases directly. In modern versions of Solaris (I think starting with S9) the update_drv(1M) will accomplish the same thing and update the kernel, sparing you the need to reboot.

Posted by Dan Price on November 09, 2004 at 01:37 PM PST #

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