Debian Kernels and Tigon TG3 Firmware

If you are updating the kernel on your Debian 5.0 (Lenny) or Debian 6.0 (Squeeze) installation and have a Tigon Gigabit ethernet controller, such as the one on the Dell Poweredge T110, you may receive the following warning messages:

W: Possible missing firmware /lib/firmware/tigon/tg3_tso5.bin for module tg3
W: Possible missing firmware /lib/firmware/tigon/tg3_tso.bin for module tg3
W: Possible missing firmware /lib/firmware/tigon/tg3.bin for module tg3

While harmless, these messages may be a bit disconcerting.  Luckily, an easy, however not widely-documented fix, is present to solve this.  Simply follow the two steps below:

1.) Add the “non-free” repository to the sources.lst file. (Here we are using Debian Squeeze. Replace “squeeze” with “lenny” if you are using Debian 5.0 Stable.)

nano -w /etc/apt/sources.list
deb http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian/ squeeze main contrib non-free
deb-src http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian/ squeeze main contrib non-free

2.) Update apt-get and install the “firmware-linux-nonfree” package.

apt-get update
apt-get install firmware-linux-nonfree

Now, you should be all set and you can attempt the kernel installation once more.  According to this Debian bug report, the Tigon TG3 firmware is not listed in the package description even though it is present in the package itself and perhaps why some confusion arose.

Font Anti-Aliasing and Mac OS X 10.6

Mac users may have noticed the options for adjusting font anti-aliasing / smoothing in Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) have mysteriously disappeared from the “Appearance” section of System Preferences.  With Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) and before, users could control the level of font smoothing with classifications such as: Automatic, Standard, Light, Medium, and Strong.

Luckily, this now hidden preference, can still be accessed via the Terminal. Run the following command as the local user:

defaults -currentHost write -globalDomain AppleFontSmoothing -int 1

and replace the number at the end for the selection you wish:

1 – Light
2 – Medium
3 – Strong

Finally, log out and log back in to see the changes applied to the Finder and all applications.  A special “thank you” goes to Mac OS X Hints for supplying the information for this post.