Get ethernet MAC address without powering on machine?

Jim Meyer purp at
Tue Jun 4 13:39:29 PDT 2002


We buy commodity boxes not only for our distributed computing needs (a
render farm) but also for our desktops. We like to use kickstart to set
up the box; we've honed the config for this pretty well. The problem is
we need to get the MAC address prior to kickstarting the box so that we
can give it a trusted IP which in turn allows it to NFS mount the disk
where the RedHat distributions are.

This leads me to my question: anyone know of a clever way to get the MAC
address from an ethernet device without needing to power the machine up,
load an OS, and probe around a bit. Having noted that ethernet devices
often seem to display link and traffic lights even when the computer is
powered down, I was thinking that a fairly special purpose device might
be designed (RJ45 plug and simple digital readout kinda thing) which led
me to wonder if such a device already exists.

Has anyone ever seen or heard of such a thing?


Jim Meyer, Geek At Large                              purp at

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