Debian Installation

Step 1: Booting and Starting the Installer.

For a standard installation, you only need to choose “Install” or “Graphical install” (with the arrow keys), then press the Enter key to initiate the installation process.

Step 2: Selecting the language

The installation program begins in English, but the first step allows the user to choose the language that will be used in the rest of the process.

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Step 3: Selecting the country

The second step consists in choosing your country. Combined with the language, this information enables the program to offer the most appropriate keyboard layout. This will also influence the configuration of the time zone.

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Step 4: Selecting the keyboard layout

The proposed “American English” keyboard corresponds to the usual QWERTY layout.

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Step 5: Detecting Hardware

This step is completely automatic in the vast majority of cases. The installer detects your hardware, and tries to identify the CD-ROM drive used in order to access its content. It loads the modules corresponding to the various hardware components detected, and then “mounts” the CD-ROM in order to read it. The previous steps were completely contained in the boot image included on the CD, a file of limited size and loaded into memory by the BIOS when booting from the CD.

Step 6: Loading Components

With the contents of the CD now available, the installer loads all the files necessary to continue with its work. This includes additional drivers for the remaining hardware (especially the network card), as well as all the components of the installation program.

Step 7. Detecting Network Hardware

This automatic step tries to identify the network card and load the corresponding module. If automatic detection fails, you can manually select the module to load. If no module works, it is possible to load a specific module from a removable device. This last solution is usually only needed if the appropriate driver is not included in the standard Linux kernel, but available elsewhere, such as the manufacturer’s website.

This step must absolutely be successful for netinst installations, since the Debian packages must be loaded from the network.

Step 8: Configuring the Network

In order to automate the process as much as possible, the installer attempts an automatic network configuration by DHCP (for IPv4) and by IPv6 network discovery. If this fails, it offers more choices: try again with a normal DHCP configuration, attempt DHCP configuration by declaring the name of the machine, or set up a static network configuration.

This last option requires an IP address, a subnet mask, an IP address for a potential gateway, a machine name, and a domain name.

Step 9 : Administrator Password

The super-user root account, reserved for the machine’s administrator, is automatically created during installation; this is why a password is requested. The installer also asks for a confirmation of the password to prevent any input error which would later be difficult to amend.

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Step 10: Creating the First User

Debian also imposes the creation of a standard user account so that the administrator doesn’t get into the bad habit of working as root. The precautionary principle essentially means that each task is performed with the minimum required rights, in order to limit the damage caused by human error. This is why the installer will ask for the complete name of this first user, their username, and their password (twice, to prevent the risk of erroneous input).

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Step 11: Configuring the Clock

If the network is available, the system’s internal clock is updated (in a one-shot way) from an NTP server. This way the timestamps on logs will be correct from the first boot. For them to remain consistently precise over time, an NTP daemon needs to be set up after initial installation.

Step 12: Detecting Disks and Other Devices

This step automatically detects the hard drives on which Debian may be installed. They will be presented in the next step: partitioning.

Step 13: Starting the Partitioning Tool

The partitioning step is traditionally difficult for new users. It is necessary to define the various portions of the disks (or “partitions”) on which the Linux filesystems and virtual memory (swap) will be stored. This task is complicated if another operating system that you want to keep is already on the machine. Indeed, you will then have to make sure that you do not alter its partitions (or that you resize them without causing damage).

Fortunately, the partitioning software has a “guided” mode which recommends partitions for the user to make -in most cases, you can simply validate the software’s suggestions.

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Choice of partitioning mode

No Internet ConnectionGuided partitioning

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After choosing the type of partition, the software calculates a suggestion, and describes it on the screen; the user can then modify it if needed. You can, in particular, choose another file system if the standard choice (ext4) isn’t appropriate. In most cases, however, the proposed partitioning is reasonable and it can be accepted by selecting the “Finish partitioning and write changes to disk” entry.

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Step 14 : Installing the Base System

This step, which doesn’t require any user interaction, installs the Debian “base system” packages. This includes the dpkgand apt tools, which manage Debian packages, as well as the utilities necessary to boot the system and start using it.

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Step 15: Configuring the Package Manager (apt)

In order to be able to install additional software, APT needs to be configured and told where to find Debian packages. This step is as automated as possible. It starts with a question asking if it must use a network source for packages, or if it should only look for packages on the CD-ROM.

If getting packages from the network is requested, the next two questions allow to choose a server from which to download these packages, by choosing first a country, then a mirror available in that country (a mirror is a public server hosting copies of all the files of the Debian master archive).

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Step 16: Debian Package Popularity Contest

The Debian system contains a package called popularity-contest, whose purpose is to compile package usage statistics.

 In particular, the most “popular” packages will be included in the installation CD-ROM, which will facilitate their access for users who do not wish to download them or to purchase a complete set.

This package is only activated on demand, out of respect for the confidentiality of users’ usage.

Step 17. Selecting Packages for Installation

The following step allows you to choose the purpose of the machine in very broad terms; the ten suggested tasks correspond to lists of packages to be installed. The list of the packages that will actually be installed will be fine-tuned and completed later on, but this provides a good starting point in a simple manner.

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Step 18: Installing the GRUB Bootloader

The bootloader is the first program started by the BIOS. This program loads the Linux kernel into memory and then executes it. It often offers a menu that allows the user to choose the kernel to load and/or the operating system to boot.

Step 19: Finishing the Installation and Rebooting

The installation is now complete, the program invites you to remove the CD-ROM from the reader and to restart the computer.

After the First Boot

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The user that has already been created can then log in and begin working immediately.