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[Solved] Headless Linux PC for home lab

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(@mwoodpatrick)
Posts: 4
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Can the Beelink EQ12 Pro be setup without requiring a monitor? I would like to install systemd-nspawn/lvm2/ProxMox and have been doing most of my container/VM work so far using a 32GB Windows 11 laptop with WSL-2 but while KVM works for me and I can run libvirt and boot a variety of VM's I can't get ProxMox to boot as a VM or as a WSL distro so far. I currently don't have a monitor and would prefer not to buy one or have it on my desk. Also, I'm primarily a software guy and don't have any experience adding or replacing components within systems, how hard is this to do? Any information would be much appreciated.

 
Posted : 08/01/2024 6:07 am
Brandon Lee
(@brandon-lee)
Posts: 539
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@mwoodpatrick welcome to the forums! Glad you are part of the community here. I think your idea of running Proxmox inside WSL2 is really interesting. I have not heard of anyone doing that so far, but I know with determination and effort, just about anything is possible. I will do some digging on that front myself and let you know what I find.

I don't think you should have any problems running a mini PC like the Beelink EQ12 Pro as a headless system. You would need a monitor and keyboard connected to get things setup initially, but it shouldn't require a monitor to boot Promxox after installation as long as you have network connectivity to the box, you should be able to access resources just fine. Let me know if this answers your question on that front.

Generally speaking replacing components in mini PCs is not too difficult. Most of them are fairly accessible. You can see my blog post here on the EQ12 review in written form and see pictures of the screws you need to take out and the fan shroud. After that, you can replace/upgrade memory, NVMe drives, etc. Also, you will see adding a 2.5 inch SSD is super easy after only removing the bottom plate. You just connect up the drive and you are good to go.

You can find the blog post here: https://www.virtualizationhowto.com/2023/09/beelink-eq12-pro-cheap-home-server-with-8-cores-and-32-gb-ram/

 
Posted : 08/01/2024 9:56 am
(@mwoodpatrick)
Posts: 4
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@brandon-lee Many thanks for the response, much appreciated. I currently don't have a monitor/keyboard (other than the ones on my laptops) so my question is about the possibility of doing all the setup without requiring a monitor/keyboard.

 
Posted : 08/01/2024 2:38 pm
Brandon Lee
(@brandon-lee)
Posts: 539
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@mwoodpatrick hmm I dont' think there are any in the box solutions that you would be able to do that. There is an adapter from StarTek that is a "crash cart" type solution that turns your laptop into a KVM of sorts. You can see that here. It is very expensive:

https://www.startech.com/en-us/server-management/notecons01

Also, there are KVM solutions for a single PC that you might consider like TinyPilot, that is based off a Raspberry Pi device. The Tiny Pilot is a bit expensive. But you can build the same thing yourself with PiKVM FOSS software and a raspberry Pi:

https://pikvm.org/

 

 
Posted : 08/01/2024 5:35 pm
mwoodpatrick reacted
(@malcolm-r)
Posts: 60
Trusted Member
 

@mwoodpatrick i've used craigslist for this exact reason before. there are plenty of people (around me, at least) who are trying to toss old keyboards and/or monitors. maybe you can find a tiny monitor and cheap board to get the setup going. the bonus there is you have them if you need them for quick jobs in the future.

 
Posted : 08/01/2024 9:22 pm
(@mwoodpatrick)
Posts: 4
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@brandon-lee Many thanks for the pomiters, much appreciated.

 
Posted : 08/01/2024 9:44 pm
(@mwoodpatrick)
Posts: 4
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Topic starter
 

@malcolm-r Many thanks for your suggestion, definitely an option worth considering.

 
Posted : 08/01/2024 9:46 pm
(@termv)
Posts: 16
Eminent Member
 

@mwoodpatrick The easiest solution is to hook the system up to your TV's HDMI input for its initial setup. You can also buy little "portable monitor" tablets for around $100 that you can just toss in a drawer when not in use.

It's possible to create a custom Debian install image with a preseed file. Somebody has automated that here: https://github.com/philpagel/debian-headless You can subsequently install the proxmox packages from their apt servers when your base Debian system boots up.

Inevitably you'll eventually require a keyboard/monitor though. You don't want to be in a situation where your system fails to boot because of a kernel panic or bad config and your only recourse is to do a fresh install.

 

 
Posted : 14/01/2024 4:24 pm