Changing the MAC address

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Introduction (GM45+e1000)

This section is applicable to all supported laptops with the mobile 4 series chipset (as shown in $ lspci) that use the e1000 ethernet controller (e.g. T400, X200). The R500 is an exception to this as it does not use the built-in e1000.

On all these laptops, the MAC address for the built-in gigabit ethernet controller is stored inside the flash chip, along with Canoeboot and other configuration data. Therefore, installing Canoeboot will overwrite it.

Thus, for these laptops, prebuilt Canoeboot already contains a generic MAC address in the configuration section. This address is 00:f5:f0:40:71:fe in builds before 2018-01-16 and00:4c:69:62:72:65` (see the ascii character set) afterwards. Unless you change it, your computer will boot and use it. This can lead to network problems if you have more than one Canoeboot computer on the same layer2 network (e.g. on the same network switch). The switch (postman) will simply not know who to deliver to as the MAC (house) addresses will be the same.

To prevent these address clashes, you can either modify prebuilt Canoeboot to use an address of your own choosing or you can change the address in your operating system’s boot scripts.

In either case, it is a good idea to write down the address that your computer originally had.

Obtaining the existing MAC address

The existing MAC address may be obtained by the following methods:

  1. Run ip link or ifconfig in a terminal/console/shell; find your ethernet device (e.g., enpXXX or ethXXX), and look for a set of 12 colon-delimited hexadecimal digits. For example: 00:f3:f0:45:91:fe.

    • `$ ip link

      … link/ether ??:??:??:??:??:?? brd …

    • Alternatively:


      … ether ??:??:??:??:??:?? txqueuelen …

  2. Otherwise you can read the white label that is often found on the motherboard under the memory sticks:

  3. The MAC address is usually listed on the laptop chassis as well. This one will be incorrect if the motherboard was changed and the stickers were not updated.

Changing the MAC address in the operating system

There are three portable ways of doing so:

  1. Using the new iproute2 package:

    ip link set down

    ip link set dev address 00:4c:69:62:72:65

    ip link set up

  2. Using the old ifconfig command:

    ifconfig hw ether 00:4c:69:62:72:65

  3. Using the macchanger package.

You can use use of these three methods in your operating system’s init scripts or you can use your operating system’s own networking configuration. Refer to your operating system’s documentation for how to do this.

Changing the MAC address on X200/T400/T500/W500

On GM45 laptops with ICH9M southbridge and Intel PHY module, the MAC address is hardcoded in boot flash, which means it can be changed if you re-flash.

See ich9utils documentation

If all you want to do is change the MAC address, you might try nvmutil instead. See notes below:

Also see nvmutil documentation

The nvmutil utility is yet another utility provided by Canoeboot, for changing your MAC address. It is a standalone utility, that operates only on pre-assembled GbE files.

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