Sorry for my bad mood, but I've been trying to get this server working for a week, working 20+ hours per day on it, and nothing wants to work together. This is more of a rant than a request for help.
<rant>First, I had a problem with the second Ethernet port not working. Apparently Intel wanted to put the latest and (not) greatest chip for the second controller. After some research, I found that this controller requires a linux kernel equal to or newer than 2.6.31. Debian's latest stable release, Lenny, which I had been using, uses 2.6.28. So, I thought I'd try my hand at compiling a new kernel. It successfully compiled, and I installed it. However, on boot, it would hang. I'm not sure exactly why. It didn't really say anything about it.
I booted back to 2.6.28 and then tried updating the apt-get config file to search "testing" releases instead of just stable. In the process of updating, something messed up, and hosed the system. So, I formatted the drive and installed Debian Lenny again.
I did more research and found that supposedly the 82578DM supposedly only requires the e1000e driver, which is compiled into the kernel. I tried downloading the latest e1000e driver and compiling it. After unloading and reloading e1000e, the second NIC showed up, but wouldn't get an IP address. I thought maybe restarting would fix, but after that, the second NIC no longer showed up. I could check the version of e1000e, and it showed that it was the new one, but I noticed the size was the same as the old version (I can't remember the commands I was running - this was a few days ago). After unloading and reloading e1000e, the second NIC showed up, but still had no IP. Even setting it manually wouldn't save it.
So, I decided to download the Debian Squeeze ISO, even though it's still in testing. It's using a 2.6.32 kernel, which I hoped would work with my second NIC. I installed it, and it booted fine. I checked and saw that both NICs were recognized right after booting, and both had IPs.
Happy that everything seemed to finally be working, I installed VMWare Server 2.0.2. I had installed it back when only one NIC was working, but that install was lost when the earlier attempt to update to testing failed. This time I had to find a patch to the setup script in order to install it properly, but it seemed to work, and I was able to get several VMs set up and running.
However, this morning, I noticed that the web UI said that the plugin had lost its connection to the server. I restarted the vmware-mgmt service, but still couldn't connect to the server. I tried restarting vmware, but it said an instance of vmware was running, and couldn't be restarted until it was stopped (why have the restart option if it can't restart?). I tried stopping it, but got another error. I did some more searching, and apparently VMWare Server doesn't work properly in 2.6.31 or later kernels (remember that just happens to be the minimum kernel for my second NIC to work). I restarted the computer, hoping that would get it working again, and hoping that it was something I wouldn't need to do very often, as this will be a production server.
That brings me to where I am now. The Grub rescue screen. I have one OS installed on the server (unless you count VMs, which don't count). I have changed nothing in terms of hard drives or Grub since my previous boot, which went fine. This isn't the first time I've been dumped to the Grub rescue screen either, after having done nothing that should have affected Grub. I might be able to get the computer to boot again, but it shouldn't be here in the first place. I can't have a production server that needs to be restarted frequently because VMWare Server can't work properly, then boots to a Grub rescue screen all the time.</rant>
Things are only impossible until they're not - Jean Luc Picard
Impossible is a word to be found only in the dictionary of fools - Napoleon