How do I convert an old Windows PC to a Network Connected Server with Ubuntu?

Drew D November 11, 2013
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I’ve got an old PC with Windows XP installed on it that I intend to convert into a network connected server.

My initial thought was to wipe the drive, reinstall Windows and use Tonido to set it up. However, I can’t remember the administrator password to log onto the computer (it’s been years since I’ve used it). I’ve tried multiple workarounds, trying to boot into safe mode, trying to open system admin tools, etc. but still can’t get in to the computer.

My next thought was to install Ubuntu onto the computer or use a USB installer like the one from PenDriveLinux.

Ideally, I’d like to wipe the drive (or just replace it) and boot from the USB flash drive. Problem is, I’ve got a Mac with which I’ve downloaded Ubuntu and the USB installer and can’t figure out how to set up the installer and boot disk on the flash drive so that it will load on the old PC since it is an .EXE file that won’t load on my Mac.

Can anyone advise or point me to an article or previously written answer for help on this?

  1. dragonmouth
    November 17, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    If you intend to wipe the drive clean or to install a new O/S on it, you need not worry about any old passwords. They will be wiped out during a reformat or Ubuntu install.

    You will need the admin password only if you intend to keep XP. If you need to recover your forgotten XP password, go to and download their recovery software.

  2. Drew D
    November 12, 2013 at 2:34 am

    Thank you!

  3. Bruce E
    November 11, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    You can create a bootable flash drive using these instructions on the Ubuntu site. The instructions talk about downloading Ubuntu Desktop, but the same process works for any version including Server provided the flash device is large enough to hold the image. Then boot the old PC with this flash drive telling it to use the entire hard drive (wiping out anything else that is there) during the installation.

    If you want to use this as a server, I would recommend using the server-specific version of Ubuntu and not one of the Desktop editions.