Is it possible to set up from scratch a Linux server (Ubuntu as I'm more comfortable with that) on laptop that has no keyboard, display, ethernet, or usb ports (all damaged) - without any hardware fixing / replacement. It currently has a working Windows 7 installed apparently, but I'm not sure if that info is useful.

The idea is to access it through SSH on wifi once it is set up. I got this machine from a friend who was going to throw it away, and I'd like to make use of it, with as minimum cost as possible. I was thinking along the lines of pre-configured ISO to set everything up, but I'm not sure where to start!

How can I do this if possible?

What are some problems that could come up because of these limitations that I should be aware of?

Note - I'm not picky about the OS as I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it yet. Probably at least a test web server + git remote + print server. Any suggestions welcome!

  • CD Drive should also be working.
  • Worth mentioning whether ports for external keyboard/display are functional. – steve Sep 17 '15 at 9:05
  • @steve thanks, I'll edit the question once I confirm. External display port maybe. External keyboard port unlikely. – 7usam Sep 17 '15 at 9:24
  • Would be tricky to install onto. Would you expect it to communicate over wifi, or is that broken too? Probably you'd have to pull the disk, install onto that in a VM elsewhere, and then hope it booted when returned to the laptop. I suspect you'd be better off buying a cheap XP laptop off eBay (or asking locally) and wiping that – roaima Sep 17 '15 at 9:25
  • @roaima wifi definitely working. I know I can buy stuff cheap, I don't actually need to its just something that I would use if I can, and learn whatever I can along the way. – 7usam Sep 17 '15 at 9:32

What I would try

  1. extract hard drive,
  2. plug to another host where keyboard and screen are functional
  3. install Linux (Ubuntu in your case)
  4. install openssh server
  5. replug disk to original host
  6. power on (and hope)

There is a small problem : Powering on original host will include reconfiguration of hardware, you might need to do some keyboard confirmation.

On a side note, you may want to try Archlinux where blind installation is well documented (at least on rasperry pi).

  • Thanks. I'll probably keep hardware stuff as an alternative after I've exhausted software options. I'll take a look at Archlinux. – 7usam Sep 17 '15 at 9:29

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