Data Centers

Downing a server with no console prompt

NetWare has a couple of parachutes you can use to down a server without a console prompt. In this article, John Sheesley explains what you can do.


As a general rule, NetWare is a very stable operating system. However, sometimes an NLM will malfunction and hang your server. The server’s keyboard appears to work, but you can’t switch screens back to your console prompt. That means that you can’t type DOWN or RESTART SERVER at the console prompt to shut down your server and clear the locked NLM.

You know that if you just turn off the power switch, you risk corrupting data on your server’s volumes. However, you can’t do much with your server if you can’t access the console prompt. How do you down your server without turning off the power?

Well, don’t panic. Novell has included a couple of parachutes you can use to down a server without a console prompt. Both methods involve a bit of finger contortion, but either method may save you from hitting the power switch.

The first way to do so is to press [Ctrl][Alt][Esc] from the locked screen. When you do, you’ll see a prompt asking if you want to down the server and exit to DOS. When you press [Y], NetWare will down the server and dismount the volumes just as if you typed DOWN from the console prompt. The server will clear the disk caches and all data will be written out safely. You’ll then wind up at a DOS prompt.

The second method also takes the server down but has the potential to create data corruption. You should use it as a last resort to shutting off the power and if the previous method doesn’t work.

This time, you’ll have to invoke NetWare’s system debugger. To do so, press both [Shift] keys together with [Alt][Esc]. You’ll then see the NetWare 386 Debugger screen. This screen will contain several lines of letters and numbers, which you can safely ignore. At the end of the display, you’ll see a # prompt.

To down your server, press [Q] and [Enter]. The debugger will then ask you if you want to quit to DOS. Press [Y] and [Enter] to quit NetWare.

Be aware that quitting from NetWare’s debugger is only marginally better than turning off the power. That’s because when you shut down from the debug screen, NetWare just quits. It doesn’t flush the disk caches and dismount the server’s volumes properly.

Editor’s Note
Be VERY careful when invoking and using NetWare’s debugger. Although you can’t cause permanent damage to your NetWare server while in the debugger, you may accidentally change some settings that can cause you to lose data. If you get into the debugger and want to exit it without downing your server, press [G] and [Enter].

 

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