Tools/Linux/Ubuntu/HeadlessInstall14.04

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Here is how to install Ubuntu 14.04 LTS on a computer without display. It will use the serial port (RS232) for configuring the computer to be installed.

Prerequisites

  • One host computer
    • A serial port (A USB to RS232 convert will work)
    • A terminal emulator
    • A software for writing USB bootable media unetbootin
  • One target computer
  • One RS232 null-modem cable (female-female)

Tested on

Go for it

  • Install Ubuntu 14.04 Netinstall (64 bit if possible) on a bootable media (use unetbootin)
  • Edit syslinux.cfg on the bootable media
serial 0 115200
default do_it
prompt 0
menu title Headless Ubuntu 14.04 LTS setup
timeout 100
 
label do_it
menu label Setup Ubuntu
kernel /ubnkern
append initrd=/ubninit console=ttyS0,115200
  • Connect the serial cable between the two computers
  • Boot the board on the bootable media, follow the steps
    • Warning : GRUB setup : don't choose the USB media as install destination !
    • Warning : Don't forget to install openssh-server

Configuring the console on the serial port

The console must be configured for the BIOS, the bootloader (grub) and for the login.

Configuring grub and the kernel

  • Edit the corresponding grub entry options by typing e. Find the line with linux at the beginning and add console=tty0 console=ttyS0,115200n8 at the end of this line. Ctrl-X to boot with these options.
  • Don't forget to activate root by typing sudo passwd root, then switch user to root.
  • Then add the following lines to /etc/default/grub, using sudoedit /etc/default/grub
# Setup grub output on serial port
GRUB_TERMINAL=serial
GRUB_SERIAL_COMMAND="serial --speed=115200 --unit=0 --word=8 --parity=no --stop=1"
 
# Setup the kernel output to the serial port
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX="console=tty0 console=ttyS0,115200n8"
 
# Boot even after failing a boot
GRUB_RECORDFAIL_TIMEOUT=10
 
# To see the boot process, let leave the string empty
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash"
  • reinstall grub using sudo update-grub
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