- Dell are using a new Intel Ethernet Controller
- They are also using a modern SATA controller
- The stock Debian netinst cd does not have the correct drivers for these.
To get it all to work you will need to get the Backported Images. The point to note for etch is the addition of the E1000E Intel Ethernet Driver. This is not currently in the latest kernel (22.214.171.124) so no point going to kernel.org to get the latest kernel, this may be fixed by the time you read this.
Thanks to Kenshi Muto I was able to get Debian installed but this is where it all went bad.
My next job was to get Gnome running on the machine. I have a Nvidia card installed so I went to the Nvidia Unix Driver Page and got the latest driver. I tried to install this but it is incompatible with the rivafb and nvidifb modules so if I stick with Kenshi’s kernel I cannot have a desktop but if I install a new kernel I cannot have networking.
At this point you are probably hoping there is some smart fix for this problem. Unfortunately I didn’t find one. I ended up installing a separate network card to get the system running. I would imagine in the near future that the Linux Kernel will have support for E1000E and when it does I will recompile the kernel.