Almost two years after Etch, Debian is putting the much-anticipated Lenny release on the proverbial shelves. There are some pretty nice new features in this release. In this article, we’re going to cover installation, basic setup, disk encryption, and try out some of Lenny’s new moves.
Before we begin, I’d like to put in a quick word about Debian.
Most operating systems these days come in pre-arranged all-in-one packages. This is true of systems like OSX, Windows, and most Linux distributions like Ubuntu. The analogy I prefer to use is to liken these systems to a toy house. It comes pre-assembled in a ready-to-use package.
Debian, on the other hand, is more like a box of Legos. You get all the pieces you need to build your own toy house any way you like. This can mean more work, and your finished product might not be as shiny as a pre-built toy house, but you get complete control over the end product. You choose the size, number of rooms, the furniture, etc. It’s quite likely that when you’re finished with the setup, your “house” might not look much like the next guy’s. To me, having that flexibility right from the start is one of Debian’s major advantages over pre-built systems. Before I stretch this analogy to the breaking point, let’s get started.
Hard drive installation
There are LOTS of ways to install Debian. The normal would probably be downloading the full 700MB CD and installing everything at once. For this guide, we’re going to do things a little differently and install from a minimal boot CD and download all the packages as needed.
Doing your install from the minimal CD has a few advantages over using the full installation CD/DVD. For starters, you don’t have to wait to download the whole CD, burn the whole CD, then install all the packages, just to download their updates a few minutes later. Instead, you just pull everything as needed from the repositories.
That brings me to the next advantage, you only have to download what you’ll actually use. Personally I don’t use Gnome or KDE, so I see no reason to wait for them to download/burn/install/update. You can get the minimal Lenny iso from here and burn it as an image file to a CD. Reboot onto the CD and you’ll get the standard boot screen. As we’re running this install from the minimal CD, it won’t be nearly as pretty as, for example, a graphical Ubuntu install.
Choose Install and move on to the next screen. Go ahead and pick your language and region. The installer will attempt to detect your hardware, including network interfaces.