The problem, to put it briefly, is that there's a really important package of programs called module-init-tools. This package was updated between kernel versions 2.4 and 2.6, except nobody bothered to include the updated version in the kernel package itself. The result is that, if you upgrade from 2.4 to 2.6 and don't manually upgrade your module-init-tools beforehand, you're buggered.
Since my NIC drivers need a module to run, I have to have working module support. But I can't get it without updated module-init-tools. But I can't update anything without Internet access to download it, which requires a NIC. Linux is like a giant Catch 22 waiting to happen.
Thankfully, I've got a CD burner and lots of spare coasters.
Unfortunately, my kernel for some reason refuses to mount CDs.
I'm starting to question my use of LAMP and wondering why I haven't just switched to running ASP.Net stuff straight off my existing (and stable) Windows servers.