I have a laptop motherboard, relatively modern (Core2Duo, DDR2). The catch? The chipset's burnt - neither USB nor PCI-E work. What does work? A 19V/3A input for power, VGA output for a monitor, keyboard, touchpad, 3 SATA ports (HDD, ODD and eSATA), FireWire and a SD/MS card reader (PCI-connected). Not much, and lack of USB is a big problem.
I also need some kind of dedicated computer for working on SATA drives - backups, duplication, formatting, checking for bad blocks. This should fit the bill! I can have a good command-line UI using the monitor/keyboard/touchpad, 3 SATA ports (booting from one of them), networking over FireWire (with a PC next to me acting as a gateway). It will all go in a lasercut case - like EEE Keyboard. Also, might add pyLCI or ZPUI to it, with screen/buttons connected to the I2C ports available on the VGA socket. As for lack of USB... I guess that'll just make it all more fun!
Since there are no USB ports available, I can't exactly do a LiveUSB boot or something. Fortunately, I had an old SATA HDD with a Debian Jessie install on it, from an old server of mine. Long story short, that's how I booted this motherboard up.
You also need network, don't you? I have a desktop computer with a free PCI slot and a PCI FireWire card. The card is good, but one of the SMD capacitors broke off... Let me fix that.
You also need a cable. Fortunately, I bought one a couple of weeks ago, one like this:
Connect my desktop and this laptop (both running Linux), load proper kernel modules, do some "ip addr" commands on both to set up static IPs, add routes (+disable an old firewall that was on the HDD install I reused):