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Archived - Xserve (Slot Load), Xserve G5: Using the System Identifier button to activate a boot menu

Learn how to use the System Identifier button to activate a boot menu.
This article has been archived and is no longer updated by Apple.
You can use the system identifier button on the server's front panel to initiate a limited number of firmware commands to the system without connecting a keyboard or monitor to the server (Headless Booting). You enter each command with a combination of the system identifier button and a specific light on the front panel. The steps are listed below.

    1. With the power off, hold in the system identifier button while you press the power button.

    2. Continue holding in the system identifier button until the top row of blue lights blinks sequentially.
    This indicates that the Front Panel Mode has been activated.

    3. Release the system identifier button. The rightmost light in the bottom row turns on. Press the button to light the next light in the bottom row, moving from right to left. Press the button again to change lights. Press and release the System Identifier button one or more times to move the light from right to left in the bottom row of LEDs.

    The lights in the bottom row indicate (from right to left) as follows. Rows in grey are available on Xserve G5, but not on previous models of Xserve.

    Light 1 (far right):Start up from system disk in CD drive (also, eject any disc in the optical drive).
    Light 2:Start up from a network server (NetBoot).
    Light 3:Start up from the internal drive (leftmost, if more than one drive).
    Light 4:Bypass the current startup disk and start up from any other available startup disk.
    Light 5:Begin Target Disk Mode (all drives, including the optical drive, will appear).
    Note: Drives connected to a Hardware RAID card or Fibre Channel card will not appear.
    Light 6:Restore the system's default settings (reset NVRAM).
    Light 7:Enter Open Firmware (if no keyboard is connected, this option will automatically redirect Open Firmware input and output to the serial port).
    Light 8: (Xserve G5 only)Initiate diagnostics mode.


    1. When the light for the action you want is on, hold in the system identifier button for at least 2 seconds, until all lights in the top row are on.

    Note: If the button is released during the countdown, the Select Mode is entered.

    2. Release the button.

    The top row of LEDs will light across from left to right, then all LEDs will turn off and the selected function will start. If the selected function was not successful in starting up, all LEDs will flash.


Important: To use the Front Panel Mode, turn off Open Firmware Security. (Unlock the server on the front of the Xserve.) When Open Firmware Security is on, the Front Panel Mode is disabled and is indicated by all LEDs displaying short flashes, after which the server continues with the normal startup process.

Using a Keyboard to perform firmware commands

If a keyboard is connected, you can hold down various key combinations during system startup to perform the same firmware options listed in the previous section of this document. Again, a row in grey indicates a light that is available only on the Xserve G5, not previous models.

Light 1 (far right):C
Light 2:N
Light 3:D
Light 4:Command-Shift-Option-Delete
Light 5:T
Light 6:Command-Option-P-R
Light 7:Command-Option-O-F
Light 8: (Xserve G5 only)Command-Option-D

Last Modified: Feb 20, 2012
  • Last Modified: Feb 20, 2012
  • Article: TA26930
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