posted by Clinton De Young on Sun 27th Oct 2002 18:15 UTC
IconAfter reading many of the posts regarding the recent OSNews story, "An Unbiased Review of Debian 3.0", I thought this article may be useful to those who would like to try Debian, but are a little intimidated by its installer. Several of the posts to the above mentioned story indicated that Debian's installer was a huge hurtle for many people, who would otherwise like to try it. I have found Debian to be the most useful flavor of Linux, so I wanted to write an easy, though somewhat long, walkthrough in the hopes of allowing a wider audience to experience first hand this stable and unique Linux distribution.

This walkthrough does not cover every last facet of installing Debian, but it is quite thorough, and even painfully detailed. I wrote this with somebody completely new to Linux and Debian, but somewhat familiar with their computers, in mind. I hope people new to Debian find it useful.

Some people complain about the Debian installer not being easy, user friendly, graphical, and so on. This tutorial does not attempt to debate those views, but rather attempts to walk people new to Debian through the installation process; a hand-holding into the world of Debian if you will.

A couple of the things I won't cover in this tutorial are configuring a USB mouse and installing KDE (the tutorial is long enough as it is). Also, this tutorial is geared more towards people with either high-speed internet connections through a network card in their machine, or people who access the internet via a LAN. I do point modem users in the right direction I think, but I don't go into much detail regarding modems (mainly since I don't own one).

I have tried to maintain a standard style throughout this document, but since it is my first tutorial of this magnitude, I may have varied slightly here and there. For the most part, whenever I am discussing commands that need to be typed or selected from a list, I have put them in quotation marks. Please don't type the "" marks when entering commands at the prompt. If I have varied from this, I apologize in advanced.

Finally, if you follow my instructions, what you will end up with is a very trim installation of Debian; meaning Debian minus all the redundant applications. You will end up with Debian itself, Xfree86, WindowMaker, Synaptic and Mozilla installed and that is it. However, you will also be armed with the knowledge and ability to install whatever else you want to; allowing you to make your Debian system exactly what you want it to be.

Having said all that, let's get started.

Getting Debian

The first step to installing Debian is to obtain Debian CDs. While you can buy Debian CDs from places like Linux Central or Cheapbytes for around $15.00 US, if you have access to a high-speed internet connection and a CD burner, it is quicker and cheaper to get them off the internet at has seven CDs listed for installing Debian, but you only need the first one. If you want to spend the time downloading the entire CD collection, that is okay, but this walkthrough will only make use of the first disk; "Debian GNU/Linux - Disk 1 Generic boot (US)".

Table of contents
  1. "Introduction and how to get hold of Debian"
  2. "Getting to the main installation"
  3. "Going through the main installation cycle - Part I"
  4. "Going through the main installation cycle - Part II"
  5. "Going through the main installation cycle - Part III"
  6. "Going through the main installation cycle - Part IV"
  7. "System Configuration - Part I"
  8. "System Configuration - Part II"
  9. "Installing XFree86 - Part I"
  10. "Installing XFree86 - Part II"
  11. "Synaptic, Mozilla, Conclusion"
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