I have a new lappy. It’s a Toshiba Satellite C655. It’s got Windows 7 preinstalled and that works just fine. I’ve been trying to get Linux working, though. Turns out there’s a problem. The Atheros (which means gruel or mush in Greek) Ethernet and WiFi chipset doesn’t like playing with the Linux drivers. Linux works fine as long as I don’t try to bring up either network interface. When I do, it is able to transmit about 500kbit of data before the system hangs with a nice “Uhhuh. NMI received for unknown reason 2d” message in the kernel log. It wouldn’t be so bad if it were just a kernel panic – it actually completely hangs the system – no keyboard response, no mouse response, no network, and if any sounds were playing, they’re now just a 1 second clip looping endlessly.
I’ve tried Ubuntu, Mint, Debian, and OpenSUSE so far. It seems this is a known issue and tons of people have had this issue with laptops that use this chipset. The only distros known to work are Slackware, gentoo, and Arch, since you can opt to leave out the Atheros drivers when compiling kernels.
So here’s my plan: Obtain a USB Ethernet adaptor and a USB WiFi adaptor and disable the Atheros chip in BIOS. Anyone have any other suggestions?