Signs of Triviality

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XServe and locking drives

After deciding to reinstall our Apple XServe, I faced an odd problem: the CDs would always be ejected. No matter what I did, I could not get the CD to stay in the tray, even though it was a verified good disk (check on other machines).

I was unable to boot into the firmware using either the keyboard shortcut, nor via the power-button sequence.

I was unable to boot from CD, obviously, but I was able to boot into single-user mode via the keyboard shortcut. Once in single-user mode, the keyboard stopped working. The next time around, booting into single-user mode worked again, and the keyboard worked as well, but still no luck with the CD.

Ready to take advantage of our AppleCare contract, I was going to ship back the machine, until the helpdesk at Apple asked whether I had made sure that the machine was completely unlocked. Unlocked. Not locked.

Well, go figure. I go and unlock the drives and the machine behaves normally (so far as I can tell): I can boot into firmware, I can keep a CD in the tray, I can boot from CD etc. etc.

So... lesson learned: You always need to unlock your XServe if you want to perform any such maintenance.

October 18, 2005

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