Monday, March 23, 2009

Hidden Commands

Hidden Commands

Whether I am programming an EEPROM, JTAG'ing a device or restoring old pinball machines and arcades, I love to jump into maintenance/diagnostic mode so I can get a feel for what the code jockeys were trying to accomplish. In arcade machines they have an attract mode feature that makes different sounds and screen shots to entice you to pump-n-dump your quarters into the coin box. However, if you pull the EEPROM off the board you can find all kinds of stuff, like other games and hidden commands to totally change the behavior of the device.

I feel a little like an overweight balding version of James Bond when I discover this stuff. If I can break out a hidden command and use it in front of my follow geeks to solve a problem, well...Jimmy Ray Bond...0033 1/3... I love hidden commands! They are in all kinds of devices for tech troubleshooting or just left overs from compile time.

I thought it would be cool to document a few of the networking hidden commands that I use for the community and hopefully you can share some of the ones that you use. Now just remember the troubleshooting rule of hidden commands: They are hidden for a reason. Some of them are unstable and can crash a device, but some, well, are VERY cool!

Hidden Command 00x01: Add/Remove Software Panel in XP is a big fat liar! There is a ton of software I want to remove in XP but it is not as easy as it sounds. However, if I open up the file windows/inf/sysoc.inf in notepad, search and remove the word "hide" save and reboot. Now that crappy software I want to remove is visible in Add/Remove Programs. Goodbye Windows Messenger!

Hidden Command 00x02: Hidden troubleshooting tools in ProCurve products! That right! At the command line type the command: "edomtset" hit enter "edomtset" hit enter again (Yee Haa Testmode backwards!) the prompt will change from # to $ now type a ? and look at that! A whole new interface full of fun stuff!

Hidden Command 00x03: Make a phone call without a phone at the Cisco CLI! When setting up a UC system many times I just need to emulate a call. The command CSIM works great to test a line without a phone. It is used like this:
TWTV#csim start 146677
csim: called number = 146677, loop count = 1 ping count = 0
csim err:csim_do_test Error peer not found
Back to the dial plan...

Hidden Command 00x04: Clearing Routes from a Juniper device? Wish you had a equal to clear ip route route from Cisco on your Juniper gear? There is a command that is close BUT I have had this one knock my routing-forward tables out of whack, but hey it's hidden command day! the command is:
clear route forwarding-table route

Hidden Command 00x05: Hidden VMWare ESXi Console! This little hack allows you to run commands directly at the server itself and is very handy for doing things like enabling SSH in inetd.conf. First thing first. This only works on the fee based version not the free one and you must be sitting at the server and not RCLI.
- Step One: At the server console type ALT-F1
- Step Two: Now you'll just see basically a console log with no prompt. Don't sweat it! Just type: unsupported and hit enter. This does not echo back so you will not see your input.
- Step Three: Now a big scary tech support warning will pop up. Just laugh it off and enter your server password at the prompt.
And you're in! I really just do this to enable SSH but I have also used this to edit etc/hosts to rule out DNS issues.

OK now it is your turn! Do you know any cool hidden commands? Remember a hidden command is different then a tip. This is a tip:

Tip 00x01: Hack the Mac! Folks that know just a little bit about me know I am a huge Mac fan. I dig the log in screen that shows the hostname and just by clicking the mouse I can get:
First click: OS X version number (e.g. Version 10.5.6)
Second click: OS X build number (e.g. Build 9G55)
Third click: Mac's serial number (e.g. UI002000)
Forth click: Mac's IP address (e.g.
Fifth click: Network account status
Sixth click: Date and time
Seventh click: Hostname back to the beginning. Coda for you music type folks..and Led Zep fans...

Let's change that boring useless hostname to something I can use man! At the terminal type:
defaults write /Library/Preferences/ AdminHostInfo info_name
Replace info_name with one of the following:
Hit return and next time the log in screen pops up, your variable will be there. Groovy man!

This is a Hidden Command:
Hidden Command 00x06: Minesweeper cheater! This one is just for the fun of it! Go out and download an older tool called ResHacker from This is a really cool tool that allows you to hack into a programs debug menu without reversing or knowing how to code. Here's is how it works:
- Step One: Fire up ResHacker and open the file WinMine.exe (on XP)
- Step Two: The folder will be on the left that will allow you to change a whole bunch of parameters in the game. The 1033 is the config options file. A splendid time is guaranteed for all with this program! Will it work on other Windows games? have been put on the path... but try the .dll files first...

Of course all the standard warnings and scary overtones apply to these commands; they are not supported, tech support will punch you in the head, they'll void the warranty of your gear and next three cars. But in a lab environment they really help you get into the mindset of the coders to get a real feel for the gear.

Now it's your turn! What hidden secrets are you sittin' on that you would love to share? Hey just like the movie Star Trek V: The Final Frontier...just not as sucky....

Jimmy Ray Purser

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