Update: Please see the updated information at the end of the page.
When choosing the network adapter I made a mistake: I relied on my experience with 3Com ISA and PCI network adapters and decided to go with the 3C574tx PCMCIA adapter. I had seen the driver on Donald Beckers Web site and therefore was under the impression that it would work like any other 3Com card I used before… I was wrong… After seeing it work with Windows98 I booted the SuSE Linux installaton disk which started up the PCMCIA services: The card was recognized, the network interface configuration went fine, but the interface did not transmit or recieve any packets. After rebooting multiple times I got it to work once, and used this to install Linux across the network from a CD-ROM mounted on my deskop system.
Having a working Linux system installed on the notebook it was easier to experiment with the intallation, the software and the network card.
I found out that I can get the card to work most of the time by restarting the PCMCIA interface either using a /sbin/init.d/pcmcia stop/start pair or a pair of cardctl eject/insert. Somebody on the Internet (unfortunately I don’t recall the name or the email address) suggested that pysically ejecting and re-inserting the card would do the same, and it worked. However, I’ve never managed to get it to work after suspending the notebook, even if I ejected the card first (which works fine if I don’t suspend the computer).
The strange part of the story is that some people have no problems at all using this card, others can not get it to work at all. And some of us can make it work with a little more effort.
In addition to the problem I had to get the card to transmit and receive any data I encountered another oddity: Whenenver the card was working I had no problems receiving large amounts of data. As I said before I even was able to install Linux across the network. When I tried to send large amounts of data (e.g. when backing up the disks to the tape drive on my desktop machine) the interface hung after a few transmitted KB. The same could be seen by just logging into the notebook remotely and staring an “ls -lR” (a recursive directory listing). It starts to hang after a few screenfulls of data, sits there for some time, continues again only to stop again…
From the comments on the PCMCIA/Network discussion forum and the source code comments in the PCMCIA package I figured that this problem should be resolved in the latest development version of the PCMCIA software.
I don’t care anymore because I got myself a cheap 10MB Linksys adapter that works without any problems. I still have the 3Com card and I try it with every new release of the software, still assuming that David Hinds and Donald Becker will work things out.
I am using my 3C574tx card right now (even while typing this paragraph). Starting with version 3.0.11 of the PCMCIA package the 3c574 is fully supported. The latest version at this time is pcmcia-cs-3.0.12. The 100MB side still has some performance problems, but other than a reduced throughput it is working file. I have used it with both 10MB and 100MB. David Hinds did a great job finding and fixing the bug. Thanks David.