I'm having a large problem with our development server, it have had a program called Webmin + a total idiot have been administrating the Linux sever. Witch now have resulted in the server being totally trashed, there are so many different kinds of the same program install that anything doesn’t work. And don't get me started on the users and groups :D

Well at last I have been given the responsibility to administrate our development server. But I would like to start from scratch, instead of trying to find every single package and config the previous admin have ****ed up. But the problem is that it is a remote hosted server with ssh access.

The server is running Debian, but i am thinking of reinstalling it with ubuntu server



Doable, but not for a newbie.

  1. Locate/create some spare disk space - 500M is enough for a X-less Debian, and create a new device to install into.
  2. Debootstrap the new install into the partition.
  3. Ajust boot loader to default to the new install
  4. Reboot

Don't try this unless either 1) you really know what you're doing or 2) the provider gives you a way to monitor to the whole boot process so you can recover from a boot loader problem.

  • 2
    Also, if this is your first time pulling off this procedure practice. install a minimal debian on a test host on the other side of your desk and enable ssh. Then log into it, and use debootstrap to 'reinstall it' and make sure you make note of any difficulties you have along the way.
    – Jason
    May 5 '10 at 12:48

Another thing you can do, if your hosting provider allows it, is to get them a Debian 5.0 ISO. Boot your box into the expert setup, and in the 'load optional installer components' menu, there is an openssh-server option, that will let you continue the full installation remotely, over ssh. Your hosting provider will have to go through the initial prompts, and key in networking information, but once you're to the ssh-console, you can controll the whole installation. This link explains the procedure, with screen shots. Your hot-hands supplier will have to do evrything up to 'continue installation remotely using SSH'

FWIW, this is a bit easier + more reliable than an in-instance debootstrap, but both are doable.


Have a look at debootstrap


as far as i know, there is no chance to proceed linux (or any other) installation over ssh. Beside that, you need at least boot from cd or network, to start the installation, which means you have to change boot device order.

Better servers have remote managment (e.g HP iLO, Dell DRAC,...), which give you access to server console via Java applet. Another way is to enable console output to serial port and manage it from another computer.

If you have this server in some professional telehouse, you can ask their support about some remote managment. Basically, they attach vga & keyboard convertor to your server and you can manage it over Java interface.

Last posibility - if it is VPS, you can manage it thru virtual machine console.

Best regards,

Martin Kudlacek

  • I know this is doable, it was quit commen in the past.
    – Androme
    May 4 '10 at 7:25
  • There are ways to install via ssh. There are many methods already described in other questions on serverfault.
    – Zoredache
    May 4 '10 at 7:28
  • This is possible, indeed.
    – Johan
    May 4 '10 at 8:08
  • -1 definatley doable
    – Coops
    May 4 '10 at 9:57

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