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Old 05-08-2004, 05:46 PM   #1
flysideways
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Remotely viewing boot messages during boot?


Ok, so now that I have my headless fileserver running and sequestered off in a different part of the house , connected only to a lan cable and a power cord, can I somehow watch the boot process? I am using vnc to administer the box and have it set up to come on during the boot with both a normal user account and a root account. On about the 5th or so boot after making it headless, it took a really long time. It boots fine now. I'd sure like to be able to view the boot process to know what is going on. I've looked at ssh but understand, maybe not correctly, that the system still has to have booted to start the service.

Any input is welcome.
Thanks.
 
Old 05-08-2004, 06:02 PM   #2
chort
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For that you need a serial console, which unfortunately isn't supported by the vast majority of PC BIOSs. That's where architectures like SPARC really shine, because their boot PROM is designed for consoles to be able to attach.
 
Old 05-09-2004, 02:07 PM   #3
flysideways
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Thanks chort. I figured it was something like that. After reading your response I've searched it and found that some motherboards on my wish list support console redirect. Even saw an Intel board out of my price range that redirects over the lan, eliminating the need for the serial connection. My server motherboard is an old Asus A7V133 and doesn't support console redirect.

I haven't yet pulled out the video card that I used to set up the server. I suppose I'll just leave it in for now.
 
Old 05-09-2004, 04:14 PM   #4
MS3FGX
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Your BIOS doesn't need to support serial consoles to watch the boot messages.

Just pass:

console=ttyS0

To the kernel at boot.

That won't show the BIOS messages, but if the machine starts, there is a good chance that the BIOS has nothing interesting to report in the first place. That will show all of the kernel messages, which is where any information about a long boot would be.
 
Old 05-09-2004, 06:45 PM   #5
chort
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Be careful about trying to pull the video card. Many BIOS' won't clear POST without one.
 
Old 05-09-2004, 07:49 PM   #6
mlp68
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A relatively cheap solution I have is a multi-port serial board, gives you like 8 or 16 or even 32 serial ports on a machine. Connect the serial port of your headless servers and you can at least get the boot messages, and, as was stated in the previous posts, the BIOS too if it is supported (luckily, all my servers support that). You can log into that multi-port machine and connect to any of the headless machines. Any old 400MHz+ junker will do for that, and the serial board will set you back anywhere from $500 up. That's way cheaper than a dedicated hardware solution or a KVM switch, especially a remote-accessible one.

Don't forget to start a mgetty on each headless machine's serial port so you can log in via the serial line later.

Hope it helps,
mlp
 
Old 05-11-2004, 01:35 PM   #7
flysideways
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Thanks for the responses.

In a couple of weeks I'll have FC2 on part of my laptop and try the remote serial console. Now that I know what to look for I found it up on the tldp.org site. The kernel messages were what I wanted the ability to view.

About removing the video card, after the post I remembered that this particular motherboard has a bad habit of resetting the bios and booting into the bios with reduced settings if there is an interruption of power or abnormal shutdown. I think it's supposed to help overclockers recover from too aggressive settings. I'll leave the card in so I have less work to do to recover from any power interruptons. I know, I could use an UPC.

I know that when I find any boards that allow console redirect through the lan, they'll make it to the top of my wish list.
 
  


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