Many years back when I was first starting to get savvy with Linux, a co-worker approached me with a problem. He had yanked the harddrive out of his old Linux router and placed it in a different machine. The old machine had on-board ethernet and used a different driver than the new machine's PCI ethernet card. His only other computer was a laptop, which was currently offline due to the router issue. Thinking it would be an easy job, I downloaded a binary copy of the PCI driver and copied it onto a floppy at work. When I got to his house, I realized there was a bigger issue. My friend didn't have a monitor of any sort for the machine we'd be working on. We could have just given up and borrowed one from work the next day, but we decided to see how far we could get without one. We hooked up a keyboard and booted the machine waiting a few extra minutes to be sure we had a login prompt. From there, we very carefully logged in as root and mounted the floppy. The light on the floppy drive gave us a good indication that we were good so far. Not being able to remember the name of the driver forced me to do a glob copy based on the file extension to the /tmp directory, but again, the light on the floppy drive showed things were working. From there, we had another problem. We weren't sure if modprobe, the command to load a kernel module, would accept wildcards, so the globbing was no good this time. Still totally blind, I typed the following into the command line:
for I in *.ko; do modprobe ./$I; done
Fingers crossed, I hoped for the best and typed:
ifconfig eth0 192.168.0.1 netmask 255.255.255.0
From there, we plugged in his laptop, and tried to ping the machine. Much to our surprise, it was up and responding. Feeling accomplished, we did an ssh login from there, and got everything setup as it should be. Now, I'm not saying this was totally elite or anything, but it does go to show that a little creative thinking can get you pretty far. Feel free to share your own survival hacks in the comments if you have a similar story.