Can switch detect mac address if driver is not installed?

Majid Azimi asked:

I’m trying to install Debian wheezy on a used hp server via HP iLO Management Engine. Everything installs fine but when booting it shows warning that it can not find bnx2/bnx2-mips-09-6.2.1a.fw(which is Broadcom NetXtremeII network adapters firmware). After booting, I can do ifconfig and it shows 4 interfaces and their mac addresses but I can not ping gateway. Also Cisco switch which this server connects to does not show any mac address in its mac table. Is this normal? Can switch detect mac address if the OS does not have driver? Can it be the network card problem? By the way when connecting patch cables the light on the NIC turns on. I don’t have any physical access to server so I can install firmware.

My answer:

This file is part of the firmware package distributed with the Linux kernel. Due to licensing issues, Debian does not install it by default. If you need it, you must explicitly install it.

apt-get install firmware-bnx2

(And since you probably don’t have networking, you’ll probably have to manually find the .deb and copy it to the server via some other means.)

The switch isn’t going to see anything from your NIC or be aware of it in any way until it sends some traffic. Which won’t happen until you get it working by installing the firmware…

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