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USB ports and locked drives on xServes System
Although this is truly a hardware issue, I haven't seen documentation anywhere and many OSX Hints readers may encounter this in the future (if you are lucky!).

My school district department was fortunate enough to be able to purchase two xServes recently. Upon setting them up at the end of last week, we were frustrated because the USB ports weren't working at all, and we weren't in the mood to set them up headless. We were about to send them back when our local Apple System Engineer let us in on the secret: If the removeable drive bays are locked, the USB & Firewire ports are disabled.

I'm sure Apple had a security issue in mind when they did this, but it immediately brings up two thoughts in my mind.
  1. Why isn't this well documented? I felt like I had committed an id10t error, but looking back why WOULD I have known this?

  2. We have these hooked to a KVM switch along with other servers. We can't lock the drive bays and use the KVM switch at the same time. Solution: Get a fancy silver chain to put the xServ drive bay key on and wear it around your neck so that you don't have to fish around for it when you run to your server rack.
[Editor's note: I realize this is truly not a Mac OS X hint, but it does seem somewhat relevant to those who may be setting up an xServe box!]
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USB ports and locked drives on xServes | 6 comments | Create New Account
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Documentation
Authored by: dave@mmu on Aug 21, '02 10:58:47AM

Hi, we've just gotten an Xserve and i'm sure it said that in the docs that came with it.



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Documentation
Authored by: teach on Aug 22, '02 11:30:21AM

I'd love for you to point out where. Maybe there are other security issues listed there as well. In our dept.'s re-reading we find no mention in any doc's included. Pehaps you read about this elsewhere? If so, we'd love to know that too so we can bone up a bit.



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the hard way
Authored by: kramrm on Aug 21, '02 01:13:43PM

I found this out the hard way. I had the system setup remotely, then wanted to add some other software to run other services. I tried an old keyboard - nothing. A new Apple pro keyboard - nothing. I could toggle caps lock, but key/mouse presses were ignored. I know my MS USB keyboard worked before on the system.
I was about to give up when I noticed that the system monitor had the "intrustion detection" status. Turning off the lock enabled the keyboard.

The lock prevents physical access to the XServe. When engaged, you can only access files/setting via the network.



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It's not totally true !!!
Authored by: jyu on Aug 21, '02 01:40:34PM

Guy, I don't have this problem at all. I have the security lock on all the time and a Filewire tape drive connected at the back of Xserve. Apple System Profiler can see the drive. Retrospect can see and backup to the drive every night. I haven't tried the USB port. Don't know if they make any difference.



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documentation
Authored by: saint.duo on Aug 21, '02 07:36:01PM

it is in the documentation, though I don't remember where.

Also, FireWire devices work when the Xserve is locked, but cannot be added. That is, the Xserve will not recognize any new firewire devices while it is locked, but any already connected work fine.



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A lot is undocumented...
Authored by: unixguy on Aug 22, '02 02:37:07AM

It is unfortunate that Apple has neglected to document these security features. When the box is locked, you cannot mount a cdrom or hot-plug drive into the USB or Firewire ports. I also found out at a recent seminar that only certain types of devices are disabled, like the keyboards. Other devices like UPS's still function regardless of the "key" position. These features are not uncommon among data ceter class equipment but then again other manufacturers do give some basic documentation. I'd also like to see Apple document the functionality available through the serial port, keyboard shortcuts during boot and more detail on openboot.



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