(also headless computer, headless server)
Headless system definition
A headless system is a computer or device that operates without a traditional user interface, such as a monitor, keyboard, or mouse. It is designed to function remotely or be controlled through other devices or interfaces. A headless system works without a screen or direct user interaction and can be controlled or accessed from another device like a smartphone, laptop, or server. It is often used in server environments, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, or situations where direct user interaction is not necessary or practical.
Real-life headless system examples
- Smart home automation. Smart thermostats, smart lighting systems, or smart locks can be controlled through mobile apps or voice assistants without a physical interface.
- Streaming media players. Streaming devices such as Chromecast, Apple TV, or Roku can be controlled using a smartphone, tablet, or computer as a remote control, eliminating the need for a dedicated on-screen interface.
- Home servers/NAS. Network-attached storage (NAS) systems or home servers allow users to store and access their files and media from various devices without a direct interface. They can be managed through a web interface or specialized software.
- Virtual private servers (VPS). Virtual private servers hosted in the cloud or remote data centers can be accessed and managed remotely through command-line interfaces or remote desktop protocols without physical interaction.
- Digital voice assistants. Voice-activated smart speakers like Amazon Echo or Google Home function as headless systems. Users interact with them by voice commands, and the processing and responses happen behind the scenes without a visual interface.