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I am looking to build a compute workstation. I want to install the newest version of Scientific Linux. The issue is that the currently planned hardware does not include graphics (external or integrated) I have tried googling if installing linux in runmode 3 is possible without a graphics chip, however I have found conflicting information. I have seen sources (none of the very reliable) stating:

  • It is impossible (failure to POST)
  • It will fail to POST, but there are BIOS work arounds
  • It will work without issue

What I am wondering, is would it be possible to boot a different computer with a USB install of SL, modify the install to boot into runmode 3 and enable remote access, then boot/install the server with the USB.

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I hate to ask the obvious question, but - would it not be possible to install the O/S with a graphics card installed and then remove it once everything is configured to your liking? – Fopedush Aug 23 '12 at 15:51
up vote 4 down vote accepted


For Redhat/CentOS/Fedora, you are looking for kickstart.

For Ubuntu and Debian you want to look at preseeding.

Both work in much the same way by feeding the installer a file that answers all the questions that the installer would normally ask you for. They also allow you to run scripts after the installation has completed, so you can customize the install.

For CentOS (and may work or at least help for Fedora and RHEL) see the full step by step instructions on how to build a VNC headless install disk here:

This tip will show you how to modify one of the boot disks so that when started the installer will connect to a listening VNC viewer. The purpose of this disk is simple --> to be able to install a second system with centos without having to hook up a keyboard/mouse/monitor. Simply plug in power and ethernet and go (assuming the system will boot from CD).

OpenSUSE and SLE have AutoYast.

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This is exactly what I was looking for. I am assuming that it can be configured for USB installation as well (with unetbootin)? – Godric Seer Aug 23 '12 at 17:45

A long time ago the first two point where true, but this is no longer the case. Any system produced in the last decades will boot fine without graphics cards. Older systems sometimes did not boot and had options in the BIOS to ignore if there was no keyboard (Rather then halt with No keyboard found. Press F1 to continue) or no graphics.

Modern systems should boot without issue.

If you have a serial port on the workstation, then you can use a serial console.

If you have a workstation class motherboard then you can probably even enter the BIOS via serial line or via Ethernet. This will depend on your motherboard.

Lastly, you can always temporarily use a graphic board to install the system. Then remove it after you installed the OS. (Test remote access first).

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You have to love that catch22 No keyboard found. Press F1 to continue :) – terdon Aug 23 '12 at 15:22

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