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Etch vs. Sarge/bpo on FW/Router


I am planning to upgrade our department's router/firewall running 
Debian/sarge with some fancy GBit NICs (Intel GT). From my first tests 
I noticed that the e1000 module from linux-2.6.8 does not recognize the 
new card, however KNOPPIX with a 2.6.17 does. So its time for a kernel 

For a quite critical system like this, would you suggest to go 
Debian/Etch or preferably stick to backports.org? To keep things simple 
I'd rather not like to upgrade the complete box but prefer a mixed, 
sarge-oriented installation.

Best regards,

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