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Seal

Server room... finding particular box.

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Okay, so let's say you're in a web host's server room - filled with rows upon rows of towers. Let's say you're trying to find the particular box that hosts a specific website - ie. jmcardle.com. Let's say that this is a dedicated box. How would you go about physically identifying it in the room?

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Do we have admin access to said box, or are we just blindly trying to find it?

Most admins label their servers so I would look for that first, although it might be something generic like www01. If I did have access I would log on and eject the cdrom drive, assuming it had one.

This is fun I like this kind of stuff.

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I'm an idiot on this but.. couldn't you find out what physical port the dedicated box is on and look around until you see that cable number plugged in somewhere?

or tell the box to shut down and see which one powers down?

Edited by PurpleJesus
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remote into the box and eject the CD-ROM drive.

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seems as though the following line in a bash script printf("\a"); would make the pc speaker beep, but im not near a linux computer to test it out.

there is also a program called beep http://www.johnath.com/beep/README

if its windows you could make a batch file that makes the pc speaker beep, the instructions on this page work, i just tried them. http://techsupt.winbatch.com/TS/T000001022F7.html

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Thanks for the ideas so far guys. :) For the purposes of this bit of fiction, there is no admin access to the box itself.

Assuming that the servers are labeled something generic, where do you think that the information with respect to what machine hosts what would be stored? If a sysadmin needs to hard-reboot, how do they themselves know which machine to target?

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If a sysadmin needs to hard-reboot, how do they themselves know which machine to target?

When I was an admin, and I needed physical access to a box, I would just read the label that the engineer stuck on the server.

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You could unplug the machines one-by-one seeing if said website goes down. Not exactly practical :P , but if you *really* needed access to a certain box, it would work...

Edited by Spyril
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I would guess that information would reside in a spreadsheet on a network share somewhere.

Now its your job to find it ;)

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I would guess that information would reside in a spreadsheet on a network share somewhere.

Now its your job to find it ;)

that'S probably your best bet. most admins write down which cable is plugged where and which box hosts what. you just gotta find the paper ;)

OR

you could try to exploit the webserver of the site remotely to gain admin access and then use the pc speaker beeping stuff explained a few posts above.

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Look at the dns entry for the host, tracert the steps to the closest router in the data-centre and from there telnet/console in to the next switch/switches, dump the arp-cache to see the port that the mac is on.

Alternatively.. ping -t and watch which ports light up .. only works on a less-than-busy network, remote login to the web-host and run cdp/other discovery protocol to see the switch port in use or the ever-classic 'remote eject the cd-drive' and find the one that is sticking out. ^_^

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just get the cdom to eject. Forget the bleeping speaker shit. In a high density environment it is boubtful you will even hear it. I know I can barely hear bleeping when I am working in my datacenter...

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I'm an idiot on this but.. couldn't you find out what physical port the dedicated box is on and look around until you see that cable number plugged in somewhere?

or tell the box to shut down and see which one powers down?

In big server rooms the cables usually run under the floors so this would be a pain. Most of the time they are labeled with either their caconical name or its corresponding alias and/or its internal ip address. Well, if the room is properly maintained that is...

edit: oh, and why the hell do people say "hard-reboot" wtf ??

Edited by Remix
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I'm an idiot on this but.. couldn't you find out what physical port the dedicated box is on and look around until you see that cable number plugged in somewhere?

or tell the box to shut down and see which one powers down?

In big server rooms the cables usually run under the floors so this would be a pain. Most of the time they are labeled with either their caconical name or its corresponding alias and/or its internal ip address. Well, if the room is properly maintained that is...

edit: oh, and why the hell do people say "hard-reboot" wtf ??

good to know... Now that you say it I remember... but I've never been in a modern server room so... good to know.

As to Hard reboots, maybe it's a confusion between hard(cold) and soft(warm) resets?

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edit: oh, and why the hell do people say "hard-reboot" wtf ??

This is a throwback to the glory days of DOS, where you didn't have to issue any silly "shutdown" commands and wait for your computer to turn itself off. You just flipped the big red switch on the side. (KLUNK!)

A "hard reboot" or "cold reboot" indicates that you've rebooted your system by turning the power off and back on. Likewise, a "soft reboot" or "warm reboot" used to mean that you just did <Ctl><Alt><Del> to reboot (that actually just used to reboot straight away).

Bah! You kids these days, with your APM-this and ACPI-that. Back when *I* was your age, we had to turn computers on and off by hand. And dammit, we were happy!

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Bah! You kids these days, with your APM-this and ACPI-that. Back when *I* was your age, we had to turn computers on and off by hand. And dammit, we were happy!

*cough, and how long ago was this? :huh:

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Bah! You kids these days, with your APM-this and ACPI-that. Back when *I* was your age, we had to turn computers on and off by hand. And dammit, we were happy!

*cough, and how long ago was this? :huh:

Not a very long time ago... P1 systems used AT power supplies, they featured "true" power off switches.. most modern ATX systems even lack a power switch on the PSU these days. :(

I have to pull the plug g'dammit! :)

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Actually, an undocumented feature (at least, I've never seen it documented anywhere) is that holding the power button in for 5-10 seconds will kill the power.

Pretty handy tip, no extra charge for that. :)

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Bah! You kids these days, with your APM-this and ACPI-that. Back when *I* was your age, we had to turn computers on and off by hand. And dammit, we were happy!

And it was a badge of honor to replace the worn-out power switch.

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Start unplugging machines until the website goes down. If you're smart, you'll do a binary search. Unplug the left half of the room at once (may require 500 arms). Then half of that half (or the other half if the site didn't go down, may require 250 arms). Then half of that half of a half (may require 125 arms). And so on.

OK, so that's a little disruptive.

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Get some of your friends together and dress up in suits and ties, and sunglasses. Stomp briskly into the server room, flash fake FBI I.D.'s and announce very loudly "Listen up people, I need three things NOW, First off who's in charge, second which machine is the host for jmcardle.com, we need it shut down IMMEDIATLY if not sooner as it's suspected of hosting (child porn, Al Quida, Scientolgy material, take your pick) and third someone get me a cup of coffee", If no one moves shout out "NOW PEOPLE!! - OR YOU'LL ALL BE SPENDING TIME IN GITMO!!!

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Depending on the type/brand of server there's also another identity option, named UID (unit identifier), this is mostly a blue light that can be enabled from remote, so the server can be traced through this blue light, as in a normal server room, blue light isn't available. It can also be enabled on the server itself, so you can identify the server at the back to (light is in front and back).

Otherwise the CD-rom eject is a good alternative ...

Edited by vaco
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For the purposes of this bit of fiction, there is no admin access to the box itself.
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Start unplugging machines until the website goes down. If you're smart, you'll do a binary search. Unplug the left half of the room at once (may require 500 arms). Then half of that half (or the other half if the site didn't go down, may require 250 arms). Then half of that half of a half (may require 125 arms). And so on.

OK, so that's a little disruptive.

Although it could work. Instead of taking down each server individually, I could take down the switches these computers aggregate to. Go row by row or something.

I like that. I like that very much. Thanks guys! You just helped make this story a little less picture perfect (which is good.) C'thulhu, something like that also figures into that segment.

Edited by Seal
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Depending on the type/brand of server there's also another identity option, named UID (unit identifier), this is mostly a blue light that can be enabled from remote, so the server can be traced through this blue light, as in a normal server room, blue light isn't available. It can also be enabled on the server itself, so you can identify the server at the back to (light is in front and back).

Otherwise the CD-rom eject is a good alternative ...

Yea... if you have an HP server with an ILO card AND ADMIN FOR THE ILO... great idea.

Oh and not only do you need to know www.smut.com is hosted on whatever server you need to figure out how to access the ILO (it will have its own IP address)

Or.... Maybe you can trick the admin to access the ILO because usually when they are logged in the UID light will start to blink.

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