Thanks to those who advised me recently that there is no reason that the Linux kernel should not support my network hardware. You were right, just as long as I have a recent kernel. The problem was that I was trying to use a slightly out of date Gentoo Linux distribution (that would be upgraded after installation). Hey, I’m not used to using cutting edge network hardware– my 3com 3c905 NICs still serve me well. Normally, I do my homework before purchasing hardware on which I plan to run the penguin-based OS, but The Company provided this box to our group.
Anyway, the Flash-on-Linux development posse now has a beefy new Gentoo-based server that will aid us in a number of ways (think distcc for the non-negligible source tree). And I was worried I would have to learn how to operate a more, shall we say, Enterprise-focused Linux distribution for this task. For posterity and education I have documented my findings at the Gentoo Wiki.
I like Gentoo, I really do, except when it doesn’t work as advertised. Scratch that. Gentoo is still my current favorite distribution and nearly always works as advertised.