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 squeeze main contrib non-free
deb-src 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.

8 thoughts on “Debian Kernels and Tigon TG3 Firmware”

  1. Thanks for this clear and concise blog. I have a small additional comment. I ran into this issue while installing debian 6 on an ibm xSeries 335 using a net-install cd. During the install Debian ask for the /tigon/tg3_tso.bin. I resolved this in the end by downloading the firmware-nonfree_0.28.tar.gz file and unpacking the tigon dir on a usb-stick. The setup will pick up the files from the usb-stick and continue doing the setup. It made my nic function as it should.
    Hope it helps someone else.

  2. I installed wheezy alpha 1 yesterday and supplied the firmware files via usb stick. The drivers installed, but this message above alway appeared while doing update-initramfs.

    Your tip solved this issue. Thanks

  3. As per the previous reply, your tip fixed the error when doing update-initramfs -u on a freshly installed Debian Wheezy on an SDcard.

    Pretty small install of that package too, only 1564kB.


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