Remote Administration is Fun!

  • 26 January 2010

In theory we all live next to the cloud and system administration could not be happier. You use the Net all of the time. You never need to go anywhere any more. All system are connected and you just need to log on and get started. Right. No.

  • First of all the remote management ILO interface disappears when being connected to by TCP ECN. The TCP/IP stack of the management module is simply broken. Deactivating TCP ECN.
  • After trying different ways to connect to the console, we settle for Internet Explorer 8 (we had to install Java, of course). Two other machines with Debian, Firefox and Java failed (despite ILO’s generous offer). The ActiveX plugin version of the KVM console failed, too.
  • The oybbql shpxvat UC server features Broadcom NetXtreme II BCM5709 Gigabit Ethernet cards with a proprietary firmware (bnx2-09-4.0.5.fw). This means that the Debian net-install CD is next to useless unless networking gets working.
  • The Debian installer likes to have its USB media with the firmware on the first prompt. If you fail to supply the media (mounted via ILO) at the first prompt, /dev/sda1 won’t be mounted (it only tries to mount /dev/sda instead).
  • Finally, the installer is working and has network. Unfortunately the ISP forgot to tell us the IP address, netmask and which one of the two NICs is patched (actually both are patch, but only one gets routed).
  • Meanwhile the ILO module kicked our session (the browser window closed). The session is still active, but the window is closed and can’t be reopened. You have to reset the ILO module in order to clear the session (rebooting the server does not help).
  • Rebooting.
  • Hoping for the best.

It’s fun, you should try it, too.


  • Since we mounted an USB device for the firmware GRUB got confused and a reboot showed “error 15” (file not found).
  • The Debian installer nicely ejected the CD, so it’s impossible to reinstall without asking for remote hands putting the bloody CD back into the drive.
  • Reinstalling…

Done. It worked. The system is able to reboot all by itself. Now let’s sync a few GBs of data from one server to another.

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