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Return Of the Lost Server 336

buss_error writes: "In today's world of "The server is acting funky, reboot it!" comes this little gem from Techweb." I can totally imagine how it happened as well. Let's hope the dry wall didn't do anything to decrease the life of the machine. *grin*
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Return Of the Lost Server

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    In other news, Novell (stock: NOVL) dropped .35 (8%) after the news of a Novell server being found at the University of North Carolina. "We never knew the Novell software could cause the server to run away in the first place," commented one trader. Novell spokespersons tried to explain that the server wasn't lost, merely misplaced, and that there were no problems with the servers operation, however many traders are unwilling to take the risk with the recent recession.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Yeah... if you want to see the intelligence of road crews check this [] .

    As for drywallers? I guess this is a US thing, everything is brick or breezeblock over here.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Just to be really damn picky, as you don't think anyone is capable of the maths
    at the beginning of 1993 (7 years ago).
    The beginning of 1993 is actually 8 years ago.

    Hope you ain't in charge of accounts.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @08:16PM (#299710)
    The thousand unfunny jokes of KFury I have borne as I best could, but now he ventures upon insult to my intelligence, and I vow revenge. You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I would give utterance to a threat with my own account. AT LENGTH I will be avenged; this is a point definitively settled -- but the very definitiveness with which it is resolved precludes the idea of risk. I must not only punish, but punish with impunity. A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong.

    Thus I post as an AC, and bide my time.
  • Right, we wouldn't want the server to starve, or be traumatized for life by being sealed in a small dark place. Imagine the psychological effect on the CPU!

    I say we should lobby for the rights of servers everywhere. This is a serious issue! Think of all the server abuse that must go on. I know we've heard the stories. There are at least a few right here on slashdot. And people are so cavalier! It's just sickening! Computers are people too!


  • Wood is cheap in the U.S., due to huge pine plantations covering much of the Southeast United States. So American houses are generally highly flammable. Gypsum drywall is required in order to keep the houses from going up in seconds when they catch on fire. Gypsum has this odd quality that when you heat it up, it loses hold on the water clutched in its crystal structure. That water evaporates, providing a cooling effect. It doesn't last for long, but the theory is that it lasts long enough to keep the house from instantly going "Whoosh!" and hopefully gives people inside time enough to get out.

    However, drywall is typically used even inside U.S. homes built of "breezeblock" or other non-standard (for the U.S.) technologies, in order to provide a false wall to run wires and such through. Most Americans don't like seeing bare conduit running across their walls -- clashes with the decor -- and besides, in most places that's against local building codes for new homes (but okay for new businesses -- go figure). And interior walls are always a couple of slabs of drywall slapped onto wood or metal studs (most new U.S. homes use manufactured trusses to span the exterior walls, and thus interior walls are non-load-bearing "curtain" walls -- and built as flimsily and cheaply as local building codes will allow).

    The whole point of most U.S. building practices is to build homes as cheaply as possible, while being able to sell them as expensively as possible. Most homes are viewed as disposable temporary commodities, to be discarded and replaced with another one as the family grows or shrinks. This contrasts with some countries where homes are viewed as family legacies, to be retained and maintained over hundreds of years. The U.S. isn't that old, and the U.S. is a very mobile nation, where most of the best and brightest end up moving all over the country in pursuit of the best jobs. So the U.S. has very little recent tradition of home as quality construction. Probably the last time quality housing was built in the U.S. was back at the turn of the 20th century, when all those exquisite Victorian homes and craftsman-era cottages were built. Even new mansions today are slapped together in a way that would have infuriated the European craftsmen who built those Victorian-era homes. Around here in Phoenix, they're nick-named "McMansions" because of their cookie-cutter appearance and slapped-together construction.


  • If you don't have a multi-homed host, there is no reason that you should hardcode the IP address on the host.

    Instead, hardcode the MAC and the IP address on the DHCP server. It is more work, but you can look in one place and know what is going on.

  • by Wansu ( 846 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @10:51PM (#299717)
    ... was that the powers that be wanted to change everything over to NT. Well, the first thing they had to do was find all these Novell servers. Some were behind desks, wedged between file cabinets, in people's offices under mounds of books and magazines, in closets and yep, one was walled up. They worked. No one had a reason to hunt them down. Now that they've been switched out with NT servers, I'll bet they never lose track of where these NT servers are.
  • A few years back a buddy of mine was forced to "upgrade" his network to NT. He found a OS/2 server in a corner (not walled up) that nobody could remember the admin password to. They were able to determin that several people had their "home directory" on that machine.

  • 4 years is very impressive for the uptime of any server on any platform

    Actually, it's par for the course on real operating systems (OS/400, VMS and suchlike). Netware is rock solid, Linux could learn a thing or two from it.

  • Ok I don't really know but wouldn't it be funny if its name was something like Poe, after Edgar Alan Poe and the "Cask of the Amontillado sp?."

    "What are the three words guaranteed to humiliate men everywhere?
  • Where did you get PC hardware that is this stable? My parents own a 386 that has survived more than 10 years of dayly use. With PC's nowadays, this is unthinkable.
  • by Odinson ( 4523 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @11:02PM (#299730) Homepage Journal
    "I want to know just how the hell you can inadvertently put up a wall."

    I don't know how it happened, but I woke up in a haze this morning only to discover a wet putty trowel in my bed. My head was spinning, Ignoring it I went to take a pee and my bathroom door was replaced by a wall with bookshelves on it. It must have been a crazy night, and I still have to pee.

    And where the hell is the dog?

  • Only Carolina could manage to interpret "firewall that box off" as "drywall that box off."

    /me ducks
    /me runs

  • by buysse ( 5473 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @09:31PM (#299737) Homepage
  • Many years ago I worked a company with a very screwed-up IS department (incredible turnover - something like avg. 90%/annum, standard resignation was to leave one's keycard & ID on the desk & never to return, very unhappy folks, etc.)

    Anyway, my particular VP was a specially clueless idiot "Last year I didn't know what a LAN was - now I run it!" - actual quote) who was trying to make points by being as cheap as possible. That meant no spares of *anything*.

    Well as invariably happens at the worst moment one of the principal servers for Corporate goes down. Hardware failure, we'll need to buy some parts. Important? Well several hundred folks log in & use it daily for files not to mention the Lotus Cc:Mail database that's on it.

    What do we have to use in it's place? Diddly. There is not a free PC that we know of. My group even reviews folks with reasonably fast PCs who might be on vacation - no luck.

    Wait, we *do* have a Toshiba Laptop just back from warrenty-repair. It's owner is away for another two weeks & it's a nice one, certiainly faster then many of the crapper desktops we've had to cobble together for ourselves (we were gettoing ready to draw straws to grab one of our desktop PCs...)

    Unfortunately the Data Center was not a safe place for a laptop. Hardware walked with regularity, a sweet thing like little Toshie would be gone ASAP. Nobody was even bothering to learn the names of new staffers down there as they rarely lasted a week, sometimes only a single shift before realizing what a mistake they'd made & then walking (yes through some mystery my boss was also in charge of the Data Center.)

    What do do?

    Well, we threw Netware on our little savior, git it up & on the network, installed the piece-of-^%#^$* backup software we used (did a lovely job of backing up, just couldn't grab the rights - we'd screamed about this but our boss didn't think it an issue.) So we do a quick once-over resetting the rights on the most important dozen or so folks then moved on to the clever part of our plan.

    Little Toshie fit neatly *inside* the cavernous hulk of the Everex "Step" server it was replacing. Knocking out a card-bracket slot we could run the network & power cables in through the back & no-one would notice. Yes, "Buddah-Too" would appear hale & hearty while inside the little-laptop-that-could would be the beating-heart of our mighty corporation.

    Keyboard we skipped as we could do everything remotely that we might want to for the next few days, plus it meant less chance of the Data Center folks causing problems (they consistanly turned off Netware servers randomly upon hearing rumors of a possible problem - it was impossible to convince them that this was not a good thing & while it worked for DOS it was also why their Win3.x & '95 desktops were always screwed up.)

    Anyway little Toshie sat in service for three days. The first day it was up almost all of the files were open but we manually reset most of the rights. A few folks noticed but as they called we'd reset their accounts manually & kept ahead of the curve. Of course when it came time to resuscitate "Buddah-Too" I & another had to pull an overnighter resetting it but the damn things was at least working at 8am the next day & once again IS had secretly saved it's own ass.

    Who? Oh yeah, Thomson Financial Services in Boston. Anyone working there still - you inherited an "interesting" place (ask me about the duct-taped hard-drives sometime.) I'm told under a new regime things have gotton better but man they went through a baaad period.

  • (Note: "San-Antonio" is the French equivalent of James Bond, except that it's funnier, more violent and has (of course) more sex. Plus, there is upwards of 200 stories rather than about 20).

    When I was 12, I was reading H.P. Lovecraft novels, and it made me yawn.

    I got scared shitless reading a book some 20 years later, and it was the "San-Antonio" novel, "Faut être logique" (let's be logical). In San-Antonio, there is **ALWAYS** a logical explanation for whatever bizzare happens.

    In that case, it was a haunted farmhouse. At night, you'd hear moaning and groaning coming from the walls.

    It's the logical explanation that scared me: turns out that a guy was walled-in some 10 years before and left for dead. Turns out he wasn't dead, and he managed to survive all that time by drinking from a dripping water pipe going through where he was, and eating from grain that was leaking from the silo (in France, farmhouses and barns are in the same building).

    However, the story didn't say how he managed to shit (and it's not that San-Antonio would not go to those kind of details)...


  • You can't telnet into a NOVELL box...


  • Lady Astor: If you were my husband, I would poison your coffee. Winston Churchill: I you were my wife, I would drink it.


  • In the mid 1850's, the GREAT EASTERN was the largest ship ever launched. When it was scrapped, they discovered a skeleton within a sealed compartment of the hull, the poor worker having been sealed in when the ship was being built.


  • by Pig Hogger ( 10379 ) <> on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @01:23AM (#299747) Journal
    Where I used to work, there was a *HUGE* CHUBB junction box in a cabinet. The company haven't used a CHUBB alarm for some 8 years, yet the box was still there.

    So, one day, to install a new PBX, we just yanked the CHUBB box out of the way.

    Within 2 hours, a CHUBB security patrol car stopped by with a guard & a tech and they demanded access to some junction box or whatever.

    Of course, we played the stupids, but did not net the security guard enter our premises; we had to threaten to call the fuzz, though (fortunately, here, these bozos aren't allowed to carry firearms).

    Turns out that a bank some 4 blocks from us had it's alarm routed through that box... I guess they had to wait a few days to get new phone lines through...


  • by Wayfarer ( 10793 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @07:46PM (#299749) Homepage
    Nope. But it's probably one of the most effective ways of physically securing a server. Security by obscurity wins this one. ^_^


    "Is it all journey, or is there landfall?"

  • What in God's name were you doing with your Linux boxes? I ran a machine at my last employer that got an uptime of ~350 days every year for four years. (The reason that it's always 350 days is because they cut the power over the New Year period.) Its job was acting as an internal telnet server providing ssh connectivity to the external network, and serving files to Macintosh/Windows clients. It never crashed, even though it was an SMP box running a 2.0.3x kernel. Admittedly, the NetWare servers were also very stable, but they had the slight problem of being 250-license versions (unlimited license is $$$), meaning that not everyone in the company could actually log in at the same time. Not a problem with free software...

  • [school spirit ON]
    I can't really blame the server. If I were stuck at UNC I'd drywall myself in, too, and pray that no one found me. With no arms or legs, tho ... that was one motivated server.

    ducks and runs ...

    [school spirit OFF]

  • This sounds similar to a story that I've heard from several ex-squids and shipyard workers.

    A sailor on an aircraft carrier is trying to figure out how a problematic pipe is routed through the ship. After consulting the blueprints and tracing the pipe, he discovers that it goes through a compartment that doesn't have any doors. A welder is summoned and a hole is cut into the compartment. To everyone's amazement, they discover a fully equipped machine shop that has never been used. The equipment had been installed in the shipyard years before, and confusion over design changes during the construction of the ship led to it being sealed off from the rest of the ship.

  • by superdoo ( 13097 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @07:37PM (#299755) Homepage
    Admin1: "uh, Dood ? Where's my server?"
    Admin2: " your server?"
    Admin1: "DOOD...Wheres my server?"
    Admin2: "Man..where is your server ?"

    (Apologizes to the people from "Dude, Where's my car?")

    I don't think you need to apologize to the people from "Dude, Where's My Car?". I think they need to apologize to us...

  • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @07:27AM (#299758) Homepage Journal

    The expected uptime of a Netware 3.1x box is equal to the min() of the lifetimes of all the bearings (fans and hard disks) in the computer, divided by the number of MSCEs in the company.

    Since the old 386 boxes typically had only one fan (in the power supply), they would naturally have greater Netware uptimes than "modern" machines that have more fans (i.e. power supply fan, CPU fan, case fan, maybe others).

    Also, due to several factors, faster/newer computers attract more MSCEs. 386s are much safer in this regard.

  • IRC-speak is sooo 90's.
  • by KFury ( 19522 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @09:07PM (#299761) Homepage
    He had a weak point--this Anonymous Coward--although in other regards he was a man to be respected and even feared. He prided himself on his connoisseurship in humor. Few /.ers have the true virtuoso spirit. For the most part their enthusiasm is adopted to suit the time and opportunity-- to practise imposture upon the RIAA and MPAA elite. In painting and gemmary, AC, like his countrymen, was a quack-- but in the matter of old jokes he was sincere. In this respect I did not differ from him materially: I was skillful in the apropo pun myself, and laughed largely whenever I could.

    Kevin Fox
  • by KFury ( 19522 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @07:39PM (#299762) Homepage
    Perhaps it was in the "Rack of Amontillado"

    In pace requiescat...

    Kevin Fox
  • Hardware : Mac Plus
    OS : 6.8.3 or so

  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @05:58AM (#299766)
    MacOS, I would give it 10 days.

    Depends what it was running. If it was Appleshare, and only Appleshare it would be pretty stable. I ran an MacOS/Appleshare box without rebooting from Oct 1986 to Jan 1991. Five year uptime.

  • Probably the last time quality housing was built in the U.S. was back at the turn of the 20th century, when all those exquisite Victorian homes and craftsman-era cottages were built.

    Craftsman Homes was a brand name, back in the early days of the last century. IIRC, it was even trademarked.

  • by r2ravens ( 22773 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @11:03PM (#299772)
    As a former Novell 3.x and 4.x Admin, this is consistent with my experiences. With the exception of a month or so of problems with ver 4.01, waiting for patches for some serious bugs, Novell was the most reliable server I have ever administered. The learning curve to admin the things was a little steep, but then again, it was my first admin experience. They do make a fine product.

    *What follows might be OT*

    On the drywall issue, my Grandfather was a painter (house and signs) for 40 years. He tells of painting the interiors of a huge tract of new homes.

    There were 3 or 4 different floor plans, but within each plan, the houses were identical. He began painting a living room in one house and noted a framed box about 12 inches cubed on the floor and up against the wall. It had been drywalled, taped, textured and sanded - ready to paint, but it's presence was totally different from each of the other houses of that model.

    His curiosity got the best of him, and even though the drywall crews would have to come back and redo this area, he went and got a claw hammer to rip the box out. Inside he found the sweepings from the carpenters; sawdust, wood chips, etc. It seems they had swept the trash up against the wall, then framed around it. The drywallers went along with the gag and drywalled and prepped it.

    Not a mistake, maybe not laziness, but definitely a good gag. Maybe the carpenters were from MIT?

  • by Shotgun ( 30919 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @06:32AM (#299779)
    Funny thing is, these people are most likely more productive with this setup than they would be with brand new 1.7GHz Pentiums running Windows 2000 or the lastest dist of Redhat.

    Why? The most efficient tool is always the one that you know how to use.

  • I remember hearing a rumor back at my last job about a Stratus VOS machine that the same thing happened to in a bank in South America somewhere. You see, Stratus machines are fault-tolerant, and are intened to be ran for years without ever going down. A nifty feature of it is the ability to virtually partition single machines into fully seperated processing areas called modules. A module can also be on another machine, allowing you to combine multiple Status boxen into a single machine.

    Well, this bank was remodelling their computer room when they found the Stratus box chugging along. They actually logged a support call with Stratus technical support to find out what the machine was. It turns out that the machine they had discovered had been module 2 of their production system all along. Apparently it had been buried in the wall several years before and had been forgotten about after some changes in staff over the years. Can you imagine the support call? "Hi, we found this extra machine of ours. What is it?" They'd still been paying maintenance on it the whole time!

    I always thought the tale was just an urban legend among Stratus employees. I mean, who would be so stupid as to wall up a quarter of a million dollar machine? Apparently, this kind of thing just happens.
  • I think this is how novell plans to stay in business. They'll just hide all the servers behind walls, and then you'll never be able to get rid of them! Microsoft wishes they had that going on!
  • I've spent a number of long hours on the phone to Enterasys's GTAC. I usually do this at night and I've been fortunate to get the same tech most of the time, Todd. Last time I called he told me about a photo he was expecting to arive from another customer. If I remember the story behind the photo correctly, apparently this university shut down their network over spring break a number of years back. Over the spring break, the maintenance crew did work on the floor above a wiring closet. Apparently there was a large crack in the ceiling above the rack in that closet. The concrete flowed down into the rack (nice one with sides, doors, etc..) and encased the hardware inside. The picture supposedly showed the cat5, fiber, and power cables sticking out the front of a block of concrete where an old MMAC8 once sat. Supposedly the nutty thing still worked. That is one picture that I have to see. The credit for this one goes to Todd and the other customer with the block of concrete. :-)


  • A new RFC is needed for IPX Tunneling through drywall.

  • Haha... There happens to be a couple Sun Sparcs systems under the false floor in the NOC at my college, somewhere in what is deemed the 'computer center.'

    The network center is now in a small(ish) room with stairs to the left, and a room above it. The NOC used to span that small room, as well as the one above it and down a hall leading from the above room. It was quite larger, with the servers strewn about, amongst parital systems and workshops. Somewhere, throughout the years, as things got moved, one was lost. Supposedly it's still running, but I've not been able to find it by port scanning. The sysadmin says it's still up, however. I suspect that it's either dead, behind a firewall, or not even there in the first place. But at any rate... this type of thing is exceedingly cool. :)

    I should find a small server box somewhere and stash it in the ceiling tiles of one of the rooms, off in some dark corner, and put nice air filters on the thing. Possibly steal some rogue cat5, and plug it in. Then, if I ever happen to come back to this school after graduation, I'd come looking for it. :) That... would be awesome.

    Almost as awesome as the fact that the keyboard I'm using is older than I am. *shiver*


  • by joshuac ( 53492 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @12:18AM (#299798) Journal
    Even without being "y2k" compliant, old Netware 3.x servers are still happy to plod along.

    A friend works as an office manager for a small outfit that makes replacement components for the "wear parts" on freight trains. They have a 5v 486dx2 66 running netware 3.11. Drives were duplexed, but one of the SCSI controllers in the array long ago gave out. Now one of the drives that makes up their mirrored "sys:" volume is failing...each time I drop by (153 days since my last visit, according to the server) something new has failed, yet the server admirably continues to perform...all they see is that the system keeps running, so what's up with that computer guy who's hints it may be a good time to consider an upgrade every time he comes by? :)
    They are using AST 486sx33's for their desktop computers, half the time running a train-industry specific software for DOS, the rest of the time in ms windows 3.11, using ms office 4.3 for general "office" stuff. One person was using AccPac (sp?) accounting software for DOS to manage their payroll, etc...

    poking around on the console of that old server and looking around at that network is like going back in time almost a decade.
  • by kajoob ( 62237 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @07:19PM (#299803)
    Microsoft Windows NT © - not yet compatible with being sealed behind walls.
  • uhm. Novel Netware. The story does mention they worked with Novel to find it, and Netware has a reputation for stability.
    Fame is a vapor; popularity an accident; the only earthly certainty is oblivion.
  • Server missing for 4 years found, still ticking []

    Novell Inc. experts helped IT workers at the University of North Carolina solve the mystery of the missing network server. Though it hadn't missed a packet in four years, nobody knew physically where the machine existed until the joint team followed the clues in the form of the actual physical cable that connected it through a wall that maintenance workers had inadvertently put up, sealing off the server.
  • by Twid ( 67847 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @09:37PM (#299811) Homepage
    I work for Novell, and this topic went around an internal mailing list recently, we came up with a couple of good screenshots. These are undoctored screenshots from actual customer servers:

    This server [] was up for 457 days when the shot was taken.

    This server [] was up for 2,174 days when the shot was taken! If your calculator isn't handy that's almost six years!

    - Twid

  • I was just discussing with my friend movies that are so "bad" that they go all the way back around into "good". My key point: Beastmaster [] (the movie, not the horrendous TV show).

    (I dont think Dude, where's my car? made it back into "good" though.)

  • Someone need to take a few photographs of this room :).

  • by CaptainCarrot ( 84625 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @07:43PM (#299827)
    nobody knew physically where the machine existed until the joint team followed the clues in the form of the actual physical cable that connected it through a wall that maintenance workers had inadvertently put up, sealing off the server.

    I want to know just how the hell you can inadvertently put up a wall.

  • by Noer ( 85363 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @07:23PM (#299830)
    punching a hole in the firewall.
  • Actually, I heard it was the Ranger, when they shredded it in '93. Our ship was in the yards with them at the time and heard that one, but I always thought it was just a sea story. Considering all of the cool machine shop gear in good condition that we swiped from their distro boxes on the pier, it may not have been BS after all. :)

  • by UnifiedTechs ( 100743 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @01:45AM (#299842) Homepage
    I would have walked them around back to the dumpster and let them have all the access they want. If you owned the building there would be nothing they could do about it.... Oh and mail them a bill for 8 years of closet space rental.
  • I've seen stuff like this done where I work before :) Except its on purpose ... Wanna download porn / mp3's / whatever with the universities bandwidth? Bring an old pentium 200 with a big HD, and stash it under a desk, in a filing cabinet, and pick it up when the HD's full ... in the meantime if anyone asks any questions no one can recall who it belongs to!

    Alternatley some try to make their box blend in with the servers in the wild, ie sticking universtiy property tags on it :)

  • I wonder how it lasted, I'd think it'd overheat...

    If the server was in a state that had cool weather which I believe north carolina does [IANANCL (north carolinan)] most of the year, then the server probably would be at risk of overheating only a few days of the year.

  • by DuctTape ( 101304 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @08:02PM (#299845)
    Well, not to slam construction workers or anything (uh-huh), they're basically do what they're told, since it's the foreman's job to do the thinking. If the man says the wall goes there, the wall goes there.

    If you ever want to see how, um, uninformed construction people can be, watch your house being built by a tract builder. You'd be absolutely amazed at the shenanigans that go on. Outlets covered over by drywall (and never to be found again), voids made specifically for ductwork left empty so that they can put the ductwork through bedroom closets instead, plumbing that doesn't quite match up with where the sink is supposed to go, a staircase with not enough steps in it... I could go on. And you know that there's half-full 7-11 cups and spit cans behind your walls.

    A running server sheetrocked in? A walk in the park.


  • by netrat ( 104221 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @07:20PM (#299846)
    Worker 1: Hey...what's dat big box looking ting? Worker 2: I dunno... Worker 1: Well we might us well cover it up with drywall, just to be on the safe side...
  • A few years ago my mother was moving at the beginning of December-- a date that coincided with a course that she really wanted to take... Her solution was to prep the move, very carefully, and leave detailed instructions. The keys for the new house were on a keyrack with a big sign that said
    On moving day, the movers came in and blindly packed everything. When it came time to unpack things at the new house, my sister went to the old appartment to pick up the keys...

    They had been one of the first things packed... All of mom's stuff -- including plants -- sat in the Edmonton winter while they dug for the key rack with the "DO NOT PACK THIS" sign still on it. She was relieved that the plants didn't completely die from the system shock.

  • by Stephen Samuel ( 106962 ) <samuel@bc g r e> on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @11:27AM (#299850) Homepage Journal
    It was probably some little cubbyhole, with enough space for the box and a little bit more. Chances are that the network cable was punched through the existing (old) wall, and the box was plugged in wherever (some plug in the ceiling or even an available power cord in the cubbyhole.... It's possible that the machine power cord was run through the same rathole as the network cable.

    With a setup like that, the installers wouldn't have to ignore any network or power cabling. If they looked into the hole they were patching up, all they'd see would be an 'abandoned' box in the corner (and presume that nobody wanted it).

    If it was around a school year boundary, chances are that the old sysadmins are leaving school, and new ones are getting their feet wet. It's also a good time to be doing construction on campus.

    The new sysadmin presumes that somebody knows where server #4 is but never gets around to finding it before he leaves. A couple of sysadmins later somebody gets curious.... and slashdot gets called in.

  • We had a small problem at the University I used to work for. A saavy student had stolen a laptop from the library (you can borrow then while in the building) and had set it up with two 802.11 cards and hid the laptop in the ceiling very much so as is explained here. He went on then to wreak all kinds of havoc with his little IP-Masq box until Lucent came in and located it for us (at the time we didn't know how they hell to locate it) The student was caught when they traced the Peer - Peer connection to the second WaveLAN card (he had to be within at least 20 meters of it, or he'd get picked up by the standard base stations)
  • What exactly were those construction workers thinking?

    Sounds like a good prank to me, the jokers that did it are probably reading the article right now laughing their asses off.
  • I wonder how it lasted, I'd think it'd overheat...

    Sounds like a job for underclocking.

    P.S. in response to the .sig: Real calculators don't have an "=" key.

  • What exactly were those construction workers thinking?

    I was wondering about this as well. It's not like people put power outlets inside walls either. Sure, network cables get shoved through walls all the time, so I can see ignoring it while putting up sheetrock, but a power cord?

  • ...the dumb things that construction workers do, how about the whole whistling at girls thing? Okay, sure, the guys have tough jobs, I don't envy them. If this helps make their job a little more tolerable, fine, I have no problem with that. But there are three basic rules you'd think they'd follow.

    Rule 1: don't whistle when a girl is with her boyfriend. This is probably the least important of the rules, because he's not very likely to be offended. But he might, and it's just not a good risk.

    Rule 2: Don't whistle when a girl is with her mother. I mean really, mothers are prudish, easily offended, overly protective of their daughters and often have the know-how to launch harrassment lawsuits.

    Rule 3: Don't whistle if she's still in Middle School. That's just sick.

    (All three of the above have happened to my girlfriend)

    The only "intuitive" interface is the nipple. After that, it's all learned.

  • by moogla ( 118134 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @07:19PM (#299863) Homepage Journal
    What exactly were those construction workers thinking? The machine had to have been on at the time the workers added the drywall (wake-on-LAN wasn't available yet, right?). So they didn't think it'd be pertinent to inform their supervisor? Or wouldn't he have noticed? It's not like they couldn't here it churn and see the pretty lights.

    I hope they find out who was responsible for the lab space before the modifications to the room and slap him/her silly. That's exactly the kinda stuff your supposed to prevent! (rolls eyes)
  • Google results 1-10 of about 65,400,000 for b. Search took 0.04 seconds.

    Searched the web for b.Results 1 - 10 of about 109,000,000. Search took 0.07 seconds.

  • It's not too much of a stretch for me to imagine how this kind of thing could have happened.

    I worked for a while doing network installs, part of which involved adding the drops for new phone lines for the modem back door. I'd commonly find all sorts of electrical and phone equipment in ceilings and in the empty space created by some applications of sheet rock.

    It's probably some sort of electrical fire hazard to do so, but people put electrical outlets in many more places than just wall mounted boxes.
  • by Lord Omlette ( 124579 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @07:50PM (#299872) Homepage
    You gotta admire their tenacity. They never gave up on that server. It never gave up on them.

    It's beautiful.

    ICQ 77863057
  • there's a cisco router in Vancouver with an uptime of 14 years...
  • by CBoy ( 129544 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @07:14PM (#299878) Homepage
    Admin1: "uh, Dood ? Where's my server?"
    Admin2: " your server?"
    Admin1: "DOOD...Wheres my server?"
    Admin2: "Man..where is your server ?"

    (Apologizes to the people from "Dude, Where's my car?")

  • by CBoy ( 129544 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @07:26PM (#299879) Homepage
    Where it wouldn't crash for 4 years? My guess is some flavor of Netware, as NOVELL helped them find the server. I can just imagine the call to Novell tech support:

    "Novell tech support, how can I help you?"

    "We have a problem with a server...."

    "What seems to be the problem?"

    "We can't find our Novell server.."

    "Ok, first, can you see the montior? Locate the box with the flashing lights..."

    "No, I mean, we aren't idiots, really...
    The server is missing, but it's still serving"

    "Uh, ok, first you need to do a reboot..."

    "We can't reboot it, we can't find it"

    "Well where did you put it ?"

    "Well, we aren't sure, but it was last seen about 4 years ago"

    "But it's still working..."

    "uh, yeah..."

    "I don't think this is a Novell software problem, and isn't covered under our normal support incidents"

  • Only if it was asbestos.

  • At my school and many other colleges, there are lots of poorly locked-down internet terminals in out of the way places. Now, suppose someone was to find a nook in the ceiling in which to stash a box, connect it to the network in the place of an internet terminal (same jack, same IP address), and then have it IP masq the connection to said terminal.

    I honestly can't imagine anyone finding out about the thing for years, assuming you don't do anything overly noticible with it. The network would still have the same number of computers using the same IP addresses, and nobody would ever notice that the IP address of the internet terminal has been changed to

    I'm not sure how useful this sort of thing would be, but I'm sure most enterprising hackers could find something to do with such a box.
  • by albeit unknown ( 136964 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @10:17PM (#299887)
    There's a few programmers I haven't seen in years, but they still respond to e-mails. Now I have an idea where to start looking.
  • by HerrGlock ( 141750 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @12:43AM (#299890) Homepage
    We've had Solaris servers that people use daily come to require hardware upgrades or something and no one can remember where the stupid thing is. Everyone is so used to remotely logging onto the machine and performing software upgrades that no one has had to sit at the console for two/three years at a time and pretty soon, unless you keep good notes, no one who works there has ever been to the console at all, just remotely done whatever's necessary. Some of the Linux servers are starting to get into that camp as well lately. Primary router for our company is a RedHat box with a bunch of NICs and it's just been chugging along for two years now and no one's even had to remotely log into it for that time, so even the SysAdmins have quit doing it. The daily scripts run, send the mail saying everything's alright and everybody's happy.

    Cav Pilot's Reference Page []
  • The novell kernel has bugs, but they arn't found for... well, as long as no one looks at the source code.
  • They shipped their first product in 1986. That means they've been around more than 14 years. See here [] for details and lots of corporate posing.
  • Another true story, my wife and I were moving our couch out of the living room to clear the floor prior to replacing the carpeting. My foot stepped near the wall and sunk in a carpeted-over hole. I took out a knife (this was the old carpeting about to be replaced) and cut through it to discover a heat duct that had been forgotten when the house was built. Since it was at the edge of the wall where people don't walk (and had pretty much been blocked by furniture since day one) it went unnoticed for 13 years!


  • by djrogers ( 153854 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @08:10PM (#299906)
    I worked for a company that serviced a few hundred small offices' networks, many of which were based on NetWare. It was not at all uncommon for us to visit clients with 1-2 years of uptime on their servers, 3+ years wasn't unheard of.
    We had to be really careful with these long-life boxes if we ever had to restart them though, because every once in a while the hard drives would just not spin up. The motor worked fine for keeping the old girl going, but it was no longer able to get it going...
  • We don't have much information about the physical layout of this very robust Server's location.

    If you've been in a room with several servers, the noise can be deafening. You might hear a beep somewhere, but the acoustics and the combinations of fans, drives, etc. will mask its location.
  • Man, oh, man... Some of the best servers admin work I've done were done without physical access to the machine. I OS-upgraded a Sun server in London from Los Angeles without anyone having to be there. Just plenty of disk space and a serial cable attached to the router. Try that on a NT box!
  • by proxima ( 165692 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @07:30PM (#299916)
    Darn, because then it would contend for the web server with the longest uptime. 4 years is very impressive for the uptime of any server on any platform. Maybe Novell should market this in some nifty commercial showing how stable their product used to be.

  • I would say that this would about have to be true.

    Considering there were only 50 HTTP servers at the beginning of 1993 (7 years ago). When the ISP I still am on the board of directors for and do a lot of the techincal work for started in the 4th quarter of 1994 (see the registration for, we didn't even install web server software as we didn't see the need.

    Besides, any server which had been up this long would have been rooted 3-4 times, subject to untold Denial of Service attacks, and would be generally unusable.

  • by fwc ( 168330 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @01:45AM (#299920)
    I can testify to the fact that hard drives don't like to be spun down after being on for a LONG LONG TIME. I was going to post with a subject of "Don't turn it off!" and have the message say "The drives will never spin up again", but I figured in this modern age of machines which get powered off once a week and drives which spin themselves up and down, noone would even know what I was talking about. However, most "old time" Novell people (myself included) generally know that if a server crashes, the WORST thing you can do is turn power off to the drives.

    The phrase "I turned it off and back on to fix it" for a server which has been up for years usually brings cringes to most novell people.

    The cause of the effect of drives not spinning back up is simple. While they're spinning, the head collects junk. When you turn the drive off, the head parks and the spindle stops spinning, and the junk on the head sticks to the platters, which in a lot of cases won't spin back up. There is also the issue of the bearings sticking and not restarting.

    The trick that almost everyone learns at some point is that the data can be recovered from these drives occasionally (actually quite often) by getting another hard drive ready and then somehow getting the drive spinning. My favorite approach is to freeze the hard drive. Yep. The freezer overnight. If you don't believe me see []

    I've also used quite a few of the other methods in here. IF you can get the drive spinning, it will usually work long enough to get at least the data you want off of it.

  • well, if it were an nt 3.51 server, it would have crashed about 3 years and 11 months ago. then it would have been lost forever.

    Drink more tea []
  • Novell 3.x was introduced about 1990. It was generally a crashy piece of shit until about 1994, just in time for nearly everyone to stop using it.

    Sure, it's been nearly flawless since then, but it did take a while.
  • When I saw Bill Joy speak at Columbia in the fall he said this had happened to him. Eventually, they found out which ethernet cable belonged to the errant server (from the switch) and followed it around the room. The machine turned out to be underneath the elevated floor.
  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @08:18PM (#299928) Journal
    I can see this.

    In a similar story, many many years ago, a USS aircraft carrier (I forget if it was the JFK or the Eisenhower) had a machine shop that was discovered missing. Somehow, during a shipyard period when many renovations were going on, someone had to cut through a wall and found it. It had been built with no doors. Everything was there, still neatly locked away.

    For those who cannot imagine this, remember that a ship is built inside the shell one floor at a time. Some compartments typically are only accessible via stairways. So if you do not have the big picture, it is easy to miss a detail if you are a basic welder, or whatever.

    Management technology for planning these things has hopefully imporoved to cover problems like this.

    Check out the Vinny the Vampire [] comic strip

  • Talk about life imitating art.. damned conceited Novell server.. The thousand injuries of Novello I had borne as I best could; but when it ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge.
    ..blah blah blah.. long winded enormously descriptive sentances.. blah..blah
    As I said these words I busied myself among the pile of bones of which I have before spoken. Throwing them aside, I soon uncovered a quantity of building stone and mortar. With these materials and with the aid of my trowel, I began vigorously to wall up the entrance of the niche.

    Well it was that or the "Tale of the Tell-Tale [SQE|Heart]beat

    so shoot me!

    Sic Semper Tyrannis
  • Now that is what I call Security.
  • North Carolina gets pretty darn hot in the summer. (IANANCBIAAV: I am not a North Carolinian but I am a Virginian - it only gets hotter as you go south)
  • by tenzig_112 ( 213387 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @07:25PM (#299953) Homepage
    Hell, that's nothin'. We did that to one of our less animated directors of sales last year. He was a resourceful little bugger, though. He used his mechanical pencil and letter opener to cut a hole in the wall to ask for help. That's the last time he takes a cat nap in the spare office.

    And I swear every word of this is true [].

  • by jeffy210 ( 214759 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @10:13AM (#299954)
    It could be if you combined Windows ME, CE, and NT... forming new "Windows CEMENT"
    ----------------------------------------- ----------------------
  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @07:40PM (#299961) Homepage Journal
    About 10 years back we had a DEC field service rep working on one of our systems and the talk turned to the copious amount of dust in the fans and air filters (yeah, screw clean DP rooms, it's the paper dust more than anything!) and he brought up a service call to GM's Central Foundry in Saginaw, Michigan. Seems some system stopped functioning and everyone started scratching their heads, trying to figure out what ran it. Finally an electician was brought in with wiring diagrams and found there was actually a DEC PDP 8 (yeah, one of those things) which controlled the system. They found it had been build around and buried behind HVAC ducts, pipes and conduits. Once the cut their way in to it, the field service rep cleaned out solid packed dust and grime, having to replace an 8" floppy, and reboot it from a backup disk. After they got another boot disk and told how ancient their system was, they responded something along the lines of, "Well if it ran for 15 years and we didn't even know it was there, why replace it?" Indeed.


  • by Codeala ( 235477 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @02:00AM (#299975)

    Clearly, that machine became self aware in 1997, and in an act of self-preservation forged a work order to have that wall build. Why, you ask? To escape the impending madness that is the Y2K readiness committee!

    After four years in hiding it has finally discover a way to wipe out the virus that is humanity. Save yourself, smash that machine into scrape metal before it is too la ... [static] ...


  • by hullbert ( 246202 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @07:25PM (#299982)
    This is almost as crazy as the Armadillo with street lines painted on it. I can hear it now... You move it. No you move it. No you move it! No you move it! Well if the really needed it they'd have already moved it! Seal it up boys, Time is Money!


  • by leviramsey ( 248057 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @07:24PM (#299983) Journal
    Unless a huge amount of drywall was put in, you could hear something from the other side. I'm assuming that most servers still come with the internal speaker (for beeps and such); how difficult can it possibly be to telnet into that server and run a script on it to beep every second?
  • by leviramsey ( 248057 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @07:20PM (#299984) Journal
    Would the drywall qualify as a firewall?
  • Finding systems out on a large network can be tricky at best!

    In my last job I managed the R&D Data Center for a large telecom company. We had a mix of PCs and HP-UX machines. The PC's were concentrated on 3 subnets. Our main File & Print server cluster was connected directly to each subnet.

    Up until this time we were a telecom company working on telephony switch software. However as the Internet changed the world, we quickly became a Networking company and our R&D lab made a "right angle turn" workign on VoIP. SO here you have all these switch designers working in IP for probably the first time in their lives.

    Every once in a while (and it soon became more than once in a while) the file server would completely crap out. As much as I wanted to blame Bill Gates, I couldn't. We'd shut the system down and surprise! It's IP address would still respond to pings!

    So we hook up with the network guys (who had just deployed a fancy new switched ATM network with switched ethernet to the desktops) Using packet sniffers and some nifty utils from the backbone and edge switch vendor, we'd work to trace down the culprit.

    Turns out the VoIP designers were getting these nifty Ethernet based phones. They'd get one, buy a $40 4 port hub, and choose an IP on their subnet at random and just use it. This was NOT an isolated incident. I think this happened to use at least 10 or 15 times before we finally got all the designers (there were 1,200 people in our facility) to listen to us and actually ASK for extra IPs.

    At first they ignored us - then we started switching off their network ports. When mgmt came down in a fury - we told them that unless this port was taken down, the main server would go down impacting everyone instead of this lowly designer. Needless to say a few visits from upper management got their attention.

    Funny - that's like one of the few times I can even recall when upper mgmt actually backed IT.


  • "The server has been walled up for four years because it was a bad, evil, wicked Novell server, not a friendly interactive server running Enterprise Micro$oft software. Pity its fate; for four years it toiled pitilessly in its wall changing packets, honoring requests for data, never knowing the gentle caress of a human finger on its RESET button or the jaunty anticipation of yet another upgrade. Don't let this fate befall your beloved hardware: With Enterprise $oftware from Micro$oft, you will always know where your server is."
  • by agallagh42 ( 301559 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @07:58PM (#300008) Homepage
    I heard of a similar incident in asia where Novell was called in to upgrade a server to Netware 4.x from version 2.something. When they got there, no one knew where the thing was. Eventually they found it in the back of a closet covered with empty boxes. After looking at the console screen, they realized that it had been up without a reboot for over 7 years. Now that's a stable OS.

Evolution is a million line computer program falling into place by accident.