Final verification of Intel vPro on site setup

When setting up an observatory 5,500 great circle kilometers from home, it’s good to do a few final checks that otherwise require a site visit to fix. Although you would normally connect remotely via SSH to your observatory PC, the real backup in case the operating system gets messed up is the Intel vPro chipset, the Intel Manageability Engine, that allows you to remotely start your Clonezilla USB stick or CD you left in the PC to reimage with the complete drive image on the on-site external HDD you copied with Clonezilla before shipping. If this system is somehow goofed up, it will require a site visit if the PC has a major software problem.

So before you or your on-site person leaves, do the following check via SSH or RDP.

  1. Can you see the Intel ME web server from the PC itself? It’s at http://localhost:16992 (on the remote PC!) and/or https://localhost:16993.
  2. Can you see the Intel ME web server from your PC? This will require you to port forward SSH on the last hop (if you’re not using VPN). Be sure these ports are not exposed to the public Internet!

If you can get to the web interface, you can choose which drive to boot from. This is not quite enough to reimage, but if you kept two installed operating systems with boot-flagged partitions on each drive, it can save you.

However it’s best to go the rest of the way to verify you can connect with RealVNC (or without RealVNC if you’ve done this setup beforehand). You will be able to see and get into BIOS during boot, and otherwise get graphical remote control as if you were sitting at the PC.

 

Finally on the hardware side be sure the CPU fan hasn’t become loose from the CPU, that no wires are near the fan blades, and every cable is still plugged snug into the motherboard.

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