Install CentOS in your HP MediaSmart EX470

hp mediamart ex470I have been using the HP MediaSmart EX470 home server for few years and it was quite a nice experience. Unfortunately HP decided to stop supporting these devices which means not getting any updates or fixes. I then decided it may be a good time to park the built-in Windows Home Server and switch to CentOS. I have chosen this Linux distribution because this is the one I’m most used to (it’s extensively used in corporate environments). Ubuntu could also serve this purpose but I still preferred CentOS since it comes with the minimum basic packages and allows you to keep growing it per your needs instead of shipping lot of features you don’t really need.

You will need:

  • VGA cable for the MediaSmart devices. These servers do not come with a built-in video port, so you will need to install one (you can either build it yourself or buy it from eBay).
  • Physical keyboard.
  • USB storage device.

The installation is pretty simple, although there are few tricky steps to take into account:

  1. Backup all the data you want to keep from the installed hard disks (the process will delete it!)
  2. Shut down your server.
  3. Connect the USB storage device where you have copied the CentOS installation files to the BOTTOM USB IN THE REAR PART. This is the only USB port that will work when booting up from an external disk.
  4. Connect the keyboard to any other USB port.
  5. Turn on the server.
  6. Press the DEL key to enter the BIOS and disable the option to suppress the boot selection. It’s located under the Advanced BIOS settings.
  7. Save the BIOS settings and when system boots up again press F12 to select the boot device.
  8. Chose the option ‘USB-CDROM’.
  9. Install CentOS normally.

Bonus pack, if you want to have a GUI. You will need to install the VGA drivers manually:

Enable the Ethernet connection (remember CentOS has it disabled by default):

ifup eth

You probably want to also have your ethernet connection enabled automatically when booting up:

vim /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth0

Change the line:




You can skip the 2 next steps if you are using an HP MediaSmart EX470, but I have listed them in case they help people with other systems.

Install pciutils in order to have the lspci command and list which VGA driver you need:

yum -y install pciutils

Check your VGA device:

lspci | grep VGA

Install the VESA drivers for XORG:

 yum -y install xorg-x11-drv-vesa

Install the evdev drivers for the mouse and keyboard to work properly with XORG:

yum -y install xorg-x11-drv-evdev

You are ready to go. Just type ‘startx’ on the command line and you should be able to enjoy the GUI.