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Intermittent NIC issue after upgrade from Sarge to Etch

Debian: Etch
Kernel: 2.6.24-etchnhalf.1-486

Motherboard: Asustek A7V8X-X (VIA Chipset)
CPU: AMD Athlon(TM) XP 2600+
Nic 1: Winbond W89C940 (assigned to /dev/ethnet via Udev)
Nic 1: VIA VT6102 [Rhine-II] (assigned to /dev/ethloc via Udev)

Problem: Anywhere from 3-60mins post boot ethloc appears to almost completely
fail. Pinging the interface results in alternating blocks of 'Host unreachable'
followed by replies from the interface, but with the round trip time anywhere
from 3-60 seconds, before reverting to 'Host unreachable'. The same effects are
seen when pinging from the box, out through ethloc.

This situation can be temporarily recovered by downing the interface and then
bringing it back up (i.e. `ifdown ethloc; ifconfig ethloc down; ifup ethloc`).

/dev/ethnet continues to function throughout.

System was previously running fine with Sarge (2.4 kernel) installed.

Have so far:

Tried alternate NIC cable, NIC (3Com) & switch port.

Nothing of note in syslog, daemon.log, dmesg.

Moved NIC device naming outside of ethn namespace in case some conflict between
kernel initial assignment and UDEV reassignment.

Alternate kernel - intention had been to run Xen on this box and so have also
used the 2.6.18-6 xen kernel included with Etch.

Stopped & disabled shorewall.

Having had a read around, I have a sneaking suspicion that this is a problem
with the VIA chipset on the mobo and 2.6 kernels but I am really
hoping not. (Only have one
other mobo to try and that is also VIA)

`ifconfig ethloc`
  ethloc    Link encap:Ethernet  HWaddr 00:0E:A6:33:E9:1B
  inet addr:  Bcast:  Mask:
  inet6 addr: fe80::20e:a6ff:fe33:e91b/64 Scope:Link
  RX packets:10320974 errors:0 dropped:18 overruns:0 frame:0
  TX packets:4835850 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
  collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000
  RX bytes:1866598029 (1.7 GiB)  TX bytes:333097105 (317.6 MiB)
  Interrupt:18 Base address:0xa400

`ifconfig ethnet`
  Link encap:Ethernet  HWaddr 00:20:78:14:FF:09
  inet addr:  Bcast:  Mask:
  RX packets:11425 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
  TX packets:7532 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
  collisions:934 txqueuelen:1000
  RX bytes:6740243 (6.4 MiB)  TX bytes:646968 (631.8 KiB)
  Interrupt:16 Base address:0xd800

`route -n`
  Kernel IP routing table
  Destination     Gateway         Genmask         Flags Metric Ref    Use Iface   U     0      0        0 ethloc   U     0      0        0 ethnet         UG    0      0        0 ethnet

`cat /proc/interrupts`
  0:        212   IO-APIC-edge      timer
  1:        602   IO-APIC-edge      i8042
  6:          3   IO-APIC-edge      floppy
  7:          0   IO-APIC-edge      parport0
  8:          1   IO-APIC-edge      rtc
  9:          0   IO-APIC-fasteoi   acpi
 12:        103   IO-APIC-edge      i8042
 14:      60888   IO-APIC-edge      ide0
 15:      61717   IO-APIC-edge      ide1
 16:      14829   IO-APIC-fasteoi   ethnet
 17:          0   IO-APIC-fasteoi   uhci_hcd:usb1, uhci_hcd:usb2,
uhci_hcd:usb3, ehci_hcd:usb4
 18:   14979872   IO-APIC-fasteoi   ethloc
 19:          0   IO-APIC-fasteoi   Ensoniq AudioPCI
NMI:          0   Non-maskable interrupts
LOC:     282120   Local timer interrupts
TRM:          0   Thermal event interrupts
SPU:          0   Spurious interrupts
ERR:          0
MIS:          0

  00:00.0 Host bridge: VIA Technologies, Inc. VT8377 [KT400/KT600 AGP]
Host Bridge
  00:01.0 PCI bridge: VIA Technologies, Inc. VT8235 PCI Bridge
  00:0a.0 Ethernet controller: Winbond Electronics Corp W89C940
  00:0c.0 VGA compatible controller: ATI Technologies Inc 3D Rage Pro
215GP (rev 5c)
  00:0f.0 Multimedia audio controller: Ensoniq ES1371 [AudioPCI-97] (rev 08)
  00:10.0 USB Controller: VIA Technologies, Inc. VT82xxxxx UHCI USB
1.1 Controller (rev 80)
  00:10.1 USB Controller: VIA Technologies, Inc. VT82xxxxx UHCI USB
1.1 Controller (rev 80)
  00:10.2 USB Controller: VIA Technologies, Inc. VT82xxxxx UHCI USB
1.1 Controller (rev 80)
  00:10.3 USB Controller: VIA Technologies, Inc. USB 2.0 (rev 82)
  00:11.0 ISA bridge: VIA Technologies, Inc. VT8235 ISA Bridge
  00:11.1 IDE interface: VIA Technologies, Inc.
VT82C586A/B/VT82C686/A/B/VT823x/A/C PIPC Bus Master IDE (rev 06)
  00:12.0 Ethernet controller: VIA Technologies, Inc. VT6102 [Rhine-II] (rev 74)

Can anybody give me any suggestions of what I can try to fix this?

Many thanks,

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