In the Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Alpha, the kernel used is the 2.6.27 which contains a very dangerous version of the e1000e driver. This specific version of the driver maps the firmware of the hardware on memory and gives write access to it, so a misbehaved kernel (which is common in a development branch) can overwrite the firmware.
The attempts to recover the firmware using the Intel’s tools just make the things worse and brick the entire network card (the card is not recognized as PCI device anymore).
In other words, the driver allows a sequence of events to destroy the network card, which in many cases is onboard or at a laptop (there is already some occurrences of this fact).
You can track the bug on LaunchPad.