Installing Ubuntu Server 12.04 from USB key on HP Proliant Microserver n54l

HP N54L Proliant Microserver

HP N54L Proliant Microserver

These are notes on installing Ubuntu Server on a new HP Proliant Microserver N54L

I had initially wanted to do the install from the USB key without any user interaction – I don’t have a VGA compatible monitor.  I tried to use the steps indicated on this post   but wasn’t able to get the SSH server to start when I turned the server on with the USB key with Ubuntu installed on it.

So, after buying a DVI-D compatible, low profile, fanless video card (Sapphire Radeon HD 6450 625MHZ 1GB DDR3 PCI-E DVI-D HDMI VGA Fanless Video Card), I was able to look at the boot process to see what was happening.  It turns out that some of long filenames (particularly in the Ubuntu 12.04.02 AMD64 server ISO) are beyond 104 characters and get truncated when extracted and created on the USB key (see bug discussion here).

So, I ended up doing the following:

Ubuntu Logo


Steps taken

  1. Downloading the older 12.04.01 release instead of the 12.04.02 release from Ubuntu here.     The older release does not have the problem with the long filenames on USB sticks.
  2. Then in order to easily format and extract the downloaded ISO onto a USB key, I downloaded this open-source LinuxLive USB Creator program  (I installed the program in Windows 7 which is running under Parallels on a MacBook. If you don’t have Windows available you could use UNetBootin)
  3. Plugging the USB key into one of the front panel’s USB slot worked for me, other users have reported that if that doesn’t work, try the back USB ports, or failing that, opening the front panel and installing the key onto the USB slot on the mainboard.
  4. The Ubuntu installer then comes up automatically. The n54l is configured to boot first from USB and then any hard drives, so you don’t need to modify the BIOS prior to starting these steps.

Other notes:

  • The  Sapphire Radeon HD 6450 DVI-D works with the mid-2000’s Apple Cinema Display
  • The USB key I used for the initial Linux install was 1GB

Media Servers

I am using the n54l as a NAS, Apple Time Machine backup, possible development/staging server for programming projects (including LAMP and SVN servers), and as a media server.  My requirements are:

  • can index and serve through uPNP (DNLA) music (MP3) and video files stored on the n54l drives
  • can play music directly from the NAS to the stereo through a standard stereo cable
  • can be remote controlled by portable devices (Android phone, and Apple iPhone and iPad)
  • can stream music and movies to the portable devices themselves

XMBC looks good but I didn’t like the remote interfaces as much as the Plex ones.  Plex seems worth giving a try and has good (paid) Android and iOS applications.

Plex Media Server

Plex Media Server

Installing Plex Media Server on Ubuntu 12.04

  1. Install Avahi so that devices on your network can see the Plex server advertise itself to the:

    sudo apt-get install avahi-daemon

  2. Add the Plex repositories to your apt sources list, so open it in an editor:

    sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list

  3. Add these repositories somewhere in your sources.list:

    deb lucid main

  4. Then wget the repository key and install it:

    sudo apt-key add

  5. Then update your apt repositories:

    sudo apt-get update

  6. Then install Plex itself:

    sudo apt-get install plexmediaserver

  7. Then connect to Plex through a browser:


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9 Responses to “Installing Ubuntu Server 12.04 from USB key on HP Proliant Microserver n54l”

  1. Aideen 11. Aug, 2013 at 5:30 am #

    Thanks – very useful information! Getting my MicroServer up and running was subsequently painless.

  2. Reisender 20. Oct, 2013 at 7:12 am #

    Hi, which apps do u use on ipad/iphone to access the ubuntu server resp. N54l?
    Thanks for the useful information

  3. J S 02. Feb, 2014 at 6:14 pm #

    Hi, On iOS I use zaTelnet (for SSH login) and for SFTP I use iTransfer. On Android I use VX ConnectBot . Glad it was useful.

  4. AS 02. Feb, 2014 at 6:15 pm #


    I’ve read about your experience with the HP Proliant Microserver N54L and Ubuntu, and decided to contact you regarding some questions I have, since I’m considering to acquire one of these as well.

    I intend to use mine for the following:

    1 – host PostgreSQL databases that I can access from other laptops/desktops (Windows and OS X);

    Is there something I should be aware of, since I want to connect to these databases using different OS’s, when the server will be runing Ubuntu?
    Would there be any issues with having 2 users from different computers editing and reading the same database simultaneously?

    2 – store files (Word, Excel, PDF, images, videos, create/delete folders, etc);

    How would I go for this scenario?
    Would this have to be a partition for itself?
    How could I have these folders/files available to be accessed from other laptops/computers when not on the same network? (While traveling, for instance)
    I’m thinking of some kind of login interface, but not quite aware how to get there… Or how to control the user names/passwords…

    I have quite a few other questions, and a lot more related to Linux/Ubuntu and software needed, since I’m quite new in the Linux world.

    I would like to thank you in advance for any help that you are able/willing to give me.

  5. J S 02. Feb, 2014 at 6:22 pm #

    re: 1) PostgreSQL…

    Yes, you can install PostgreSQL using apt-get following these instructions. No firewall is enabled by default on the ubuntu server so you should be able to connect to PostgreSQL from your Windows/OSx clients by specifying either a direct connection or by using SSH credentials first, then connecting to localhost. The latter is preferred and secure.

    re: Would there be any issues with having 2 users from different computers editing and reading the same database simultaneously?

    No, it’s a database server. Of course if you both modify the table structure simultaneously you may get denied, but that’s something you manage between the people potentially editing the structure.

    2 – store files (Word, Excel, PDF, images, videos, create/delete folders, etc);

    There are lots of options. Read about SAMBA or Netatalk (if you need to support OSX) for simple file sharing on network drives. Or take a look at OwnCloud if you want a drop-box like system that’s user friendly from multiple clients.

  6. sab 20. Feb, 2014 at 8:12 am #

    Do you have any issue running ubuntu? I heard only supported os are RedHat, Vmware and Windows. Hence when iddle under debian fan speed is around 40% whereas it is around 7% with esxi. If I can avoid to install a VM I would prefer, can you confirm wether or not you have issue with the fan speed under ubuntu?
    Thank you in advance

  7. Pino 28. Feb, 2014 at 1:00 am #

    It doen’t work with RAID1 (2x250Gb)… after successful installation, Grub doen’t start the OS…. (Grub Rescue> )!!!!!
    tried with ubuntu server 12.04.04 and Debian…

  8. J S 05. Mar, 2014 at 10:08 pm #

    I’ve not had any problems with running Ubuntu. If I were to do it again, I might try ESXi (for presumably better VM performance) or CentOS because I like it. As for fan speed, I can’t say objectively how fast the fan is running, it is audible though all the time. I keep it on a bookshelf behind a sofa though so it doesn’t bother me. I know that there is a lot of discussion about the power supply fan being really noisy, and there are various mods to change that fan (see

  9. Vince85 12. Sep, 2014 at 11:13 pm #

    I have installed ESXI and xpenology on a VM but know i would like to install Linux desktop and in another VM windows 8. Could you tell me how can i do ? I have not found any tuto describing this. Thanks for your help.

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