Adventures in Linux hosting: Getting Ubuntu onto my home Dell T30

My MacBook is between the new Dell T30 and my monitor. You can see the USB stick attached to the MacBook where I burned the ubuntu ISO

Thanks to the USPS for delivering on a Sunday. The new T30 arrived today at around 10AM. As I suspected, the contents are just the main box and a power cord. I went to Best Buy and picked up the cheapest USB2 keyboard and mouse I could find (there were probably some of these lying around the lab, but I bought new). I borrowed the HDMI cable we were using for the Apple TV, and hooked up to a monitor.

Cntrl-alt-delete reboots. Holding down F2 gives the Dell system management software.

Set up a USB stick for installation

I found the basic installation documentation kind of confusing. So I started with the steps in this tutorial: Create a bootable USB stick, on macOS.

  • Download¬†Ubuntu Server 16.04.3 LTS from:¬†
  • Download Etcher. This is recommended for burning the image onto the USB stick. When Etcher is done, the MacBook complains about the inserted media not being readable. Just eject it.

Putting this stick in the USB port didn’t allow it to boot. But a clue comes from the last screenshot of the tutorial where the stick is shown as an EFI boot. Changed the Dell to look for UEFI boot. Now I get an installation option for Ubuntu when I reboot.

  • Used defaults except
    • to unmount before writing partitions.
    • automatically do security updates
  • Network failed until I plugged an ethernet cable into the back connected to the Airport Time Capsule.
  • Software selection
    • standard system utilities
    • OpenSSH server

After doing this and rebooting, I had to go back to the Dell system config to switch back to legacy boot instead of UEFI. But once I had done that, I get a boot into Ubuntu and I can ssh in using the local IP address.

Shut it down to move it to a better location in the living room instead of the dining room table. Now it’s running with no keyboard, mouse, or monitor and I can ssh into it from my MacBook.

Update: The Dell documentation talks about using their LifeCycle Controller to install an OS. But this doesn’t seem to come on the T30.