Debian is one of the older Linux distributions out there. It’s been around for a long time and sometimes is slow to change. For some, this isn’t very appealing, as it’s not as exciting as something like Arch Linux, where the latest and greatest software is available for users right away. Still, if you’re a Linux power user that would prefer everything always works, Debian is a great operating system to consider. Trouble is, compared to some of the newer operating systems out there, it is a little tricky to install Debian Linux correctly.
SPOILER ALERT: Scroll down and watch the video tutorial at the end of this article.
Debian Installation Disk
Due to how tricky Debian is, we’ll be going over exactly how to get everything installed and working correctly. The first step to install Debian Linux is to create a USB live installation disk. You’ll need to download the latest ISO image of Debian. Though, keep in mind that there are multiple versions of the operating system, as well as different installation ISO images.
Unlike most Linux operating systems, Debian doesn’t give users one installer. They have options. If you prefer to use a live disk to try it out first, they have that. Alternatively, there is a GUI installer ISO with no live session. In this tutorial, we will cover installing the operating system with the net-installer.
After downloading the ISO image, plug in a USB disk (at least 2 GB in size) and download the Etcher USB flashing tool.
Extract the zip archive that the Etcher tool comes in and run the file to open the program.
Start the flashing process by clicking “Select image”. This opens up a dialog that will have the user browse for the ISO image. Find it and click on it to move to the “Select drive” stage.
Under “Select drive” choose the USB flash drive you’ll install Debian with, and then move on to the next step.
Click “Flash!” to start the process. Keep in mind that the USB creation process may take a bit of time. Let Etcher do its thing. It’ll let you know when the USB is ready to use.
Boot Installation Disk
With the Debian USB installer created, the next step is to boot it up. Restart your PC, and load up the BIOS screen for your PC. Inside the BIOS screen, change the boot order so that the USB drive loads before anything else. This will make it so that the Debian installer loads up correctly.
Keep in mind that each BIOS screen is different, and each computer has a different button for accessing it. The best way to figure out the key to press is to refer to your PC’s manual.
When the installer boots up, press the enter key on your keyboard to “Graphical Debian installer”.
Note: to try out Debian with the live disk before installing, select “Debian GNU/Linux Live” at the startup menu
Use the mouse to select your language, country, etc. Then, sit back and let the Debian installer automatically detect your networking card and connect to the internet. Please keep in mind that this Linux distribution doesn’t include proprietary drivers, so your WiFi driver may not work. If this is the case, download the non-free ISO instead.
With network configured, you’ll need to set a hostname. The hostname is what your Debian Linux PC will identify as on the network. Enter anything you’d like (as long as it’s lowercase), then press “continue” to move on.
Skip over the domain configuration area and leave it blank, and move on to the password setup page.
On the password page, the first step is to configure the root password. Write in a secure password, and click continue, so that you can set up the default user account.
During the user account creation process, Debian will first ask for your full name. Write it in. Then, on the next page, it will automatically assign you a user based on that information. Leave it be and click “continue”, or change it to something else.
The next part of the installer asks the user to “configure the clock”. Using the menu, find the correct time zone, and click “continue” to move to the next step.
The Debian installer has several partitioning options available. If you’d like to manually partition, click “Manual”. New to Debian? Select the “Guided – use entire disk” option instead, as it will automatically set everything up for you.
Selecting an option for partitioning tells the installer to select a drive to partition with. Use the menu to select the hard drive you’d like to install Debian Linux on. Once you’ve selected it, click “continue”.
Finally, select “All files in one partition (recommended for new users)” to complete the partitioning portion of the installation.
With all the partitions set, the Debian installer will download and install the base system. Be patient, as this may take a bit of time depending on your network speed, disk speed and etc.
Choosing A Desktop Environment
Now that the base system is installed, we can select the desktop environment to use. Look through the list of desktops to choose from and click the box next to them. Choices available for use are Gnome Shell, Xfce4, KDE Plasma 5, Cinnamon, Mate, and LXDE.
Select the desktop from the list, then click “continue” to install the rest of the system packages. Keep in mind that this will take a lot longer than the base install from earlier.
Note: if you are installing with a Debian Live disk, it is not possible to choose a desktop. The installer will give you the one on the live disk.
When the Debian installer finishes installing your desktop environment of choice, the installation is almost complete. There’s one step left: installing the Grub bootloader. Follow the pop-up on screen, and select “yes” to install it. Using the menu, select the drive (or partition) to install Grub to. When Grub finishes installing, Debian is installed. Reboot your PC to use your new Linux operating system!