You can check to see the status of a DCHP update by running this in a terminal:
sudo dhclient eth0 # assuming eth0 is your network adapter
That will try and get the network settings up and going and it will tell you what it's trying to do (so if it does make contact and then fails, you should see the result). If it doesn't make contact, you'll see it going on and on and on.
Before we get too ahead of ourselves though, you should make sure that this isn't a physical issue. That you think the lights are displaying in a strange way should be an indicator that there could be a problem either with the cable or the ports at either end of it. Some tests for you:
- Try turning it off then on again.
- If you have another network adapter on this computer, try it.
- If the router has another port, try it.
- If you have a spare cable, chuck it in.
- If you have (or can borrow, buy or steal) another computer, try that on this network connection.
- Make sure nobody dropped the internet. Okay, that's enough IT Crowd. Sorry, I couldn't resist.
Getting back the woes of DHCP, our DHCP server here sometimes goes flying down in a burst of flames. For the computers that are assigned IPs by it (semi-statically, in that they should always have the same IP), I moved them to fully-static configurations without much hassle.
If it's running Network Manager (as most Ubuntu desktops do) you want a configuration that looks something like the following screenshot. DNS is optional but I find using Google's DNS server lets me troubleshoot one less thing when the router has a hissy-fit. Gateway is probably the most important thing for routing traffic properly.
If it's a server or you've ripped out Network Manager, the manual configuration lives in
/etc/network/interfaces so you want to run
sudoedit /etc/network/interfaces and paste in a configuration like this one. If you're still running Network Manager, as soon as it starts running, it's going to alter this configuration to whatever it wants to. If you're running Network Manager, use the other config.
iface eth0 inet static
Same applies to the gateway. Get it right or you can't contact the outside world. As for the IP you pick. In either of these cases, you need to make sure you're picking something that isn't assigned by DHCP. An IP conflict can very quickly knacker any connectivity.