I have an old rack-mount (4u) server which booted from the network (with PXE) when it was in use. I was aiming to install debian or wot not on the hard drives (it has 5), so I tried wireshark and a DHCP server on another box. The server sent out DHCP discovers, but it wouldn't respond to DHCP offers from my box. Guess it was waiting for a specific MAC? Meh. Anyway, I couldn't get to the BIOS configuration by mashing F2 (it showed "Entering Setup..." and then just kept going with the boot), and the PXE setup menu was unhelpful. I have a "bios cd" which I suspect has the config utility files on it, but that's where my trouble started.
The box was flaky from the start...sometimes it showed VGA output, sometimes not. Sometimes, especially on resets, it didn't even boot up and I would have to pull the pug out. It seemed the only times it worked were when I had physically just put the plug in (after pulling it when it was running). When I put the bios CD in I believe was right after the last time it went up correctly. After putting the disk in (it has a CD drive for whatever reason) and booting it up, it just wouldn't go. The fans started up and made their usual jet takeoff noise, but no VGA output and after waiting for quite some time no DHCP discovers. Taking the disk out and repeating (many times) has not yielded any more success. I have not tried resetting the CMOS.
This machine isn't vital to anything, but it was given to me and it would be nice to see it working. I have a brief hardware spec which I can give excerpts from on request. It's a dual-processor (pretty neat; separate dies, fans, and heatsinks) Opteron with SCSI disks and four on a hardware RAID controller. The first BIOS that pops up on boot is American Megatrends. It came out of an MRI machine during upgrades and did signal processing (furrier transform mostly) on sensor data. It has no visible branding inside or out.
EDIT: I had it running for maybe 1/2 hour, turned off the display, and it beeped the PC speaker. I turned the display back on and saw the PXE starting up and saying Ctrl+S for configuration. WTF? To learn from this, I will note that the PXE is "Broadcom NetXtreme Ethernet Boot Agent v7.0.3", Copyright 2003. Any ideas on what to conclude from this?
EDIT 2: After another unplug/plug cycle, I saw the boot from the start and things appear normal. No idea what's going on now. The next step is getting it to boot an actual OS. Can anyone shed some light on the problems mentioned in the first paragraph?
EDIT 3: It's bricked again. It just can't decide whether it's alive or not... I'm going to open it up and boot it that way to see if anything is obviously wrong. Can anyone explain this strangeness? Never had something like this going on before...