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+ - Running Old Desktops Headless?-> 2

Submitted by CajunArson
CajunArson (465943) writes "I have recently dug up an old P4 that is in fine working order and done what any self respecting Slashdotter would do... I slapped Linux on it to experiment making an NFSv4 server. One other thing I did was to remove the old AGP video card to save on power since this is a headless machine. Now... I removed the video card after the installation, and I'm doing just fine as long as the machine will boot to a state where networking works and I can SSH to it.

My question for the Slashdot audience is: Is there a good solution to allow me to login to this box if it cannot get on the network? I'm looking for solutions other than slapping a video card back in. In my case, I will have physical access to the machine.

A few caveats to make it interesting: This question is for plain old desktop/laptop systems, not network servers designed to run headless. Also, I am aware of the serial console, but even "old" machines may only have USB, and I have not seen any good documentation on how and if USB works as a substitute. Finally, if there is any way to access the BIOS settings without needing a video card that would be an extra bonus, but I'm satisfied with just local OS access starting from the GRUB prompt. I'm all ears for advice from any Slashdotters with these setups running."

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Running Old Desktops Headless?

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  • If you want to start from grub you'll need a real serial port. If you don't mind waiting for init to run getty, you can use a USB-based serial port.

    # Avoid splashing any GUI!!
    # splashimage=(hd0,0)/boot/grub/splash.xpm.gz
    #
    # Setup serial (COM1) here with baudrate 9600
    # use --unit=1 (for COM2) and so on
    serial --unit=1 --speed=115200
    #
    # Now setup terminal as both Serial Line(/dev/ttyS1) and
    # Monitor Console(/dev/tty0) depending upon where you press key
    # with in timeout (15 sec) period. Otherwise first entry
    # (co

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