I wasted the whole day today trying to install Linux on my Compaq notebook. After installing a minimal Debian configuration I had to compile a newer kernel (2.4.19). It was stuck in the builtin ethernet card configuration. This notebook has a Conexant Lanfinity ethernet card. For some reasons, it froze my notebook whenever I load the device driver. Finally, almost gave up, I surfed the Internet and found a mailing list on tulip card. There is a pointer to "netdrivers" at ftp://ftp.scyld.com/pub/network/test/netdrivers.tgz. Grabbed it, compiled and installed. Now it works! (This message is actually composed on the compaq notebook, running GNU/Linux Debian with kernel 2.4.19, and Mozilla-based Phoenix web browser.)
Okay, the whole day was not completely waster after all.