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The state:

I have a Sony Vaio VGN-FE41M with a broken display (old laptop from my girlfriends mother) and broken vga port. Windows Vista boots up fine and the display shows a small part on the left side of the screen so I should be able to get remote access to the machine via TeamViewer (installed).

The desire:

I'd like to install Fedora 14 with Amahi Server to use the laptop as a headless server to replace my current (old) setup.

The problem(s):

The broken display, broken VGA port and the fact that CD boot is disabled make it hard to install Fedora.

I plan to install Fedora with Kickstart so no user interaction is needed for installation (if I got the description of it right). After this I should be able to access the machine via SSH to install Amahi and/or enable VNC or install TeamViewer for remote access.

To achieve this I will need one of these things:

  • A way to enable CD boot inside the BIOS without a monitor. As far as Google told me there is no tool for that allowing me to change those settings from within Windows Vista. Maybe someone knows of such tool?
  • Another Idea is if someone has the same laptop he/she could give me detailed instructions on how to set the default bios settings blind and how to enable cd boot (I think this is disabled by default)
  • The last thing that comes to my mind is a network installation but therefor I'd need detailed instructions on how to set this up blindly, too.

If someone could help me out here I'd be very thankful or if anyone has another Idea on how to get Fedora running on this machine pls share.

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2 Answers 2

If the BIOS and the USB ways do not work, you might be able to extract the HD (using a screwdriver), then connect it via an adapter to another pc, and do the install from that PC. When that is finished, just reinstall the hd.

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That another PC should have a similar motherboard then, right? Because at the time of installing an OS lots of basic device drivers are installed during the process. If that PC has a different hardware configuration then the OS will configure its settings according to that and when you plug the HDD back to the original machine then there will be a mismatch in the OS settings. If both machines are similar, specially if the motherboards are based on the same chipset then this chances of settings mismatch is reduced. –  Ayan Apr 29 at 10:23
    
@Ayan: if you install a standard release like Ubuntu, they mostly (please correct if I'm wrong) have a standard kernel, which does the device driver support. If you were to compile your own kernel, like with Gentoo etc, that would indeed be a problem. So: TL;DR: it should just work. –  user1587329 Apr 29 at 11:31

From looking on http://www.notebookcheck.net/Sony-Vaio-VGN-FE41M.3647.0.html I see that laptop has an S-Video socket. Can you connect it to a TV? It might show BIOS via that output.

You say the screen is broken? Is it just the back-light? If so, you may be able to see what's on the screen extremely faintly?

Good luck.

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Thanks for your answer. I already considered connecting via S-Video but none of my S-Video-Cables from former graphics cards have the right pins. I usually don't need S-Video so I'd prefer a solution without buying such a cable just to try this. The display is broken, not just the backlight. Only a small part on the left is visible. –  släcker May 4 '11 at 9:37
    
Have you tried pressing F11 or F12 to show a list of available boot devices? Try pressing down then enter. If that doesn't work, do it again and try down down enter, and so on until you boot from CD? –  Yeodave May 4 '11 at 9:46
    
@Yeodave: Thanks for the hint, will try this when I'm at home. I wasn't sure how to navigate through the boot options, on some laptops there are letters to choose the boot device but if there is a navigation simple as this it could solve my problem. –  släcker May 4 '11 at 10:26
    
Meanwhile I figured out the right key to enter boot options but as far as I can see (the mentioned small part on the left side which is visible) I have only one option (marked with a white background) and pressing the arrow keys doesn't move anything. Any hints? –  släcker May 5 '11 at 10:30
    
Any other keys move the selection up or down? Page Up, Page Down, U, P? Which key are you pressing to get the boot options up? –  Yeodave May 5 '11 at 13:10

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