Finish upgrading remote server without physically being there?

Maxim Khitrov max at
Wed Mar 2 23:12:59 UTC 2011

On Wed, Mar 2, 2011 at 5:18 PM, Nerius Landys <nlandys at> wrote:
>> On Wed, Mar 2, 2011 at 8:24 AM, Nerius Landys <nlandys at> wrote:
>>> Another way to do this, but is quite rare, is to log in via serial
>>> console.  This requires you to configure serial logins to your server
>>> (quite easy, but you should test it first) and it requires the data
>>> center to somehow make it possible to log in via serial console.  That
>>> is that part that is quite rare.
>> It's become less rare as more and more servers are coming with IPMI
>> devices.  Serial-over-LAN can be tough to set up properly, but once
>> set up it works quite well.
> Actually the guy who hosts my servers at was showing and
> telling be about some BIOS-over-lan or something like that.  I can't
> remember exactly what the feature was, but certain motherboards (some
> Supermicro models in particular) let you access "something" over LAN.
> Maybe that something was BIOS or serial console, or video console, I
> can't remember.  IIRC when you access that stuff over lan it is like a
> mini HTTP server and sends you some Java applet or something.  Pretty
> neat.

I just got a new Supermicro Atom board a few days ago (X7SPA-HF-D525).
It has a Nuvoton BMC chip that is attached to LAN1 and provides IPMI
and KVM-over-IP functionality. The chip gets its own IP address
(separate from em0 in FreeBSD) and is powered whenever the power cord
is plugged-in.

As a result, you have some really useful functionality such as power
control (turn the server on/off remotely), access to sensors (MB & CPU
temperatures, voltages, chassis intrusion), text console, and KVM

KVM console is accessed using a Java application that has to be
installed on the client. It's pretty much identical to having a
physical monitor and keyboard attached, in that you can control the
system from the moment that it turns on, including going into BIOS.
The only glitch I found so far is that the connection freezes for a
few seconds while FreeBSD initializes em0 during boot. After that
everything is fine.

- Max

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