Craig Ulmer

Remote Control

2012-12-07 clusters

Today's fun at work involved tricking someone a 1,000 miles away into thinking their bios was making decisions on its own. Someone asked me to help get their Hadoop cluster running, so I asked them to plug in a serial cable so I could connect to a node that had booted but was off the network because I hadn't packed the right device drivers in the initrd.

As the machine rebooted, I realized bios console redirection was enabled and I could see/edit bios settings as if I were there. I took the opportunity to jump into bios and change some ipmi stuff so I'd be able to remotely power cycle the machine. What I didn't know was that the person I was helping out was sitting in front of the machine, watching the bios menus slowly cycle through options on its own. Watching a computer slowly edit itself always freaks me out, and apparently it did the same to the person on the other end, because she called me a little bit later, worried that someone else was in the box. No, not the hackers, just me..