In which there is happiness at a successful install, wailing and gnashing of teeth at lack of a net connection, and an appeal for advice from the technically-minded. We’ll be back to normal around here soon. Really. Maybe.

One of the things I like about this country is the ability to specify the exact date and time of delivery when you mail-order things. The parts for my new machine came in like clockwork last night in a series of three consecutive shipments at 6:30, 7:30, and 9:00 PM, practically handing the equipment to me like a surgeon’s assistant responding to tool requests during open heart.

For my first complete build from scratch things went pretty well. None of the parts were damaged, everything fit in the case with relative ease, nothing broke off or exploded in the process of clamping it down, and it booted the second time I hit the power switch. I had Windows installed by 1:00 AM or so, and it seemed like everything was going fine. Which it was – until I tried to connect to the internet.

The motherboard I chose for this project was Abit’s KN8 Ultra, as per the recommendation of Ars Technica’s Hot Rod system guide and a quick perusal of the other options available at Kakaku.com. It has a very scanty online presence aside from the official page and this review at the AnandTech forums, which hasn’t helped thus far in clearing up the issue I’m having.

The poster over at AnandTech recommended not installing the nForce network access manager drivers/firewall, so I installed all the other drivers I had on disc and then hooked up the ethernet cable to the jack on the motherboard. The adapter LED lit up. I opened the Abit BIOS updating application with the intent to flash the BIOS first thing, but it wouldn’t connect to the internet.

I checked Network Connections: nothing. Not a single connection was listed, it was a big blank white window. The KN8 line doesn’t come with firewire connectors so that was expected, but no local area connection? Uh oh. After casting around for other possible solutions for a bit and coming up with nothing I decided to cave in and try to install the default NAM drivers, figuring that crappy net access was better than nothing.

So I go to run the driver installer from the disc that came with the motherboard. It thinks for awhile, and then tells me “sorry, we can’t find the applicable nVidia driver and/or hardware component.” The driver is obviously on the disc, so that is most likely not the problem (though I have yet to try a manual install). I go to check the list of installed hardware in the Windows device manager: no ethernet listed. Is this a chicken-and-egg thing with the drivers (Windows won’t recognize the ethernet port until its drivers are installed, but the driver installer app can’t find the hardware until Windows knows it’s there)? If not, why did the LED turn on when I plugged the cable into the board?

I’m up a creek without a paddle at this point, and if anyone reading this has any input or suggestions on a next step to take it would be much appreciated. I don’t think the rest of the system configuration has any bearing on this particular problem, but if it would help I can post it to comments afterward… the only possible wild card I can think of is that I switched the default OS language to Japanese on install, and all of the driver install applications showed me their Japanese versions instead of English. I doubt that has anything to do with it, but you never know. Or I never know, rather. I’m pretty much a newbie when it comes to all of this. If nothing else, any tips on how to manually install drivers from a directory on a CD to wherever they need to be in the guts of Windows (the registry, presumably) would be appreciated.