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Hey everybody. I was wondering if anybody knows of a good tutorial on how to install debian on a remote server (no OS currently installed). I have physical access to the server BUT I don't have a keyboard and I would prefer not to buy one if I could installed from my laptop.

Any ideas will be appreciate it.

Thanks

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4 Answers

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I can think of a couple basic approaches.

  • Find or build a livecd that boots up and starts an SSH server. Then connect to the SSH server and use debootstrap to install the system.
  • If the server has a working serial port, and your computer has a serial port, then get a null-modem cable and remaster a install cd to redirect the console over to the serial port.
  • If you really know the hardware well and understand what is going on, you could completely automate the installation of the system. It is possible on Debian systems to provide a preseed file and automate the entire install.
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To tell you the truth, it's completely doable with some imagination, resourcefulness, and time... almost like a good challenge. If that's fine with you, I'm sure you'll find some good answers here (I have to take a look at my bookmarks and find some tutorials on how to do a remote or automated install).

HOWEVER, if you don't want to spend the time or don't really care about the challenge, then buy a keyboard (shouldn't cost too much, check craigslist - example $1 keyboard: http://seattle.craigslist.org/see/sys/1335089360.html). It might serve you well, as there could be some future troubleshooting requiring you to have a keyboard.

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Have a look to the network console installer: Installing Debian remotely using the network console

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PXE is your friend. There is an excellent writeup here http://www.hps.com/~tpg/notebook/autoinstall.php on how to PXE install debian with pre-seeding (Debian equivalent of Red-hat Kixstart) Additionally if this is a real server most have some sort of remote KVM that is network addressable. Dell=DRAC HP=iLO. We use iLO to manage our HP systems and are pretty happy with it.

If you are going to this level of effort you might as well move on to managing the system with something like Puppet http://reductivelabs.com/products/puppet/ or at the very minimum using some sort of version control system to manage your configuration.

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