Definition

headless system

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

A headless system is a computer that operates without a monitor, graphical user interface (GUI) or peripheral devices, such as keyboard and mouse

Headless computers are usually embedded systems in various devices or servers in multi-server data center environments. Industrial machines, automobiles, medical equipment, cameras, household appliances, airplanes, vending machines and toys are among the myriad possible hosts of embedded systems. The variety of device types makes embedded systems programming complex because software must be created specific to the special-purpose  functions of each one.

Headless servers are the rule rather than the exception in any environment where there are a lot of servers, such as enterprise data centers and cloud provider environments. The servers may completely lack interfaces or may be ordinary computers run remotely in headless mode.

This was last updated in June 2014

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