How can I install Ubuntu on a headless machine?

I have a headless storage server with preconfigured Windows Home Server. How can I install Ubuntu without a display?

Do I have to build a custom install flash drive? If so, what would be the basic procedure? Is there a program (like unetbootin) to do this?

Asked By: Martin Preusse


The best way to install on a server is to use a network console, you can find good instructions here:

Your other option is to use kickstart and do a fully automated install, instructions for that can be found here:

Here is a useful thread discussing the topic:

I have many times just installed Ubuntu on other machines and then just moved the hard drive onto the headless machine.

Just make sure not to install any proprietary drivers (video card, wireless mainly) and make sure to install open ssh-server.

sudo aptitude update
sudo aptitude install openssh-server 

I have had to do this on a non headless dell server because it required a special dell disc (it was the only disk it would boot from) that would then let you choose between installing Windows Server 2003 and Redhat something or other.

So I put the drive in a desktop and installed Ubuntu Server on it and then popped it back in the other machine and it booted up just fine.

Answered By: philip550c

I ended up removing the boot drive from the headless machine, putting it into my buddy’s Mac Pro, installing Ubuntu from CD, then transporting it back to the headless server.

I ran into a couple of gotchas along the way and blogged about it for future reference.

Answered By: jchook
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