If you're looking for something to do, go for it. If you want a print server that just works, go on eBay and get an old jetdirect server (or go off brand - belkin comes to mind) for <$20.
For your project, you'll need to figure out how to or get a installer that sends everything out the serial port (assuming you can't plug an external monitor up). Then, there's a printer and samba howto at tldp. I don't know your network setup but assuming a sane setup, you should be able to see everything and print just fine.
On Sep 3, 2011 10:48 AM, <email@example.com
> I am only minimally familiar with Linux, or networking.
> I have four laptops (various ages and OS's) and one old desktop in my
> house. My only printer is attached to a seldom-used Windows desktop (big
> and slow and noisy) on the third floor. When anyone wants to print, which
> is rare (once every two weeks?) we have to go upstairs, boot the desktop,
> go back to the laptop and send to the shared printer, go back upstairs to
> power down the desktop, then return to wherever we first were.
> For some time now I have been wondering how I might cheaply put a
> low-energy-use low-noise print server in the basement that runs 24/7 and
> takes up little space. Going to the basement to retrieve the occasional
> print would be less problem, especially if the print server was already
> Then recently the display on one of my old Dell C610 laptops died. One
> minute or so after booting the display would just completely white-out. I
> decided to use the hard drive and memory for some other project and was
> going to throw out the old Dell. But then I vaguely remembered past
> readings on the Internet from people who say they run servers without
> monitors or even keyboards...
> Hmm. Is it possible to boot a minimal Linux OS from a cdrom on this broken
> display Dell (with 256M ram) that would enable me to use it as a print
> server? I would use a wired Ethernet connection to the hub in the
> Hmm. I'm thinking- would I first need to boot with an attached external
> monitor to configure the Bios to use the external monitor? (chicken or
> Since the display doesn't work, can I completely detach it? Or will the
> Bios/OS complain?
> Can I somehow boot from a rescue cdrom or Live-CD of some kind that would
> allow me to connect and configure its OS via the network? Or, how can I
> build my own bootable cdrom that would allow this? (The Bios will not
> allow booting from USB.) I'd have to install the printer driver, which is
> not native to Linux builds (Brother HL2040).
> Which native Linux software would I need to run to accomplish this sort of
> thing- Samba? What else?
> Seems like this would be a fun project and I would learn a lot, if I can
> find a tutorial, website, or detailed hints...
> Keith Ostertag
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