The next screen you’re likely to see is choosing a hostname. Chances are, you can make up whatever you want. If you were in a situation that required a particular hostname, you probably wouldn’t need me to tell you. The same goes for domain name, I usually set mine to josh.lan.
Now it’s time to pick a local mirror. After choosing your country, you’ll be asked which mirror to use. You can’t always tell where they are from the server name, but there are a lot of colleges on there so you might recognize one near you.
Now that we know where the rest of the system is coming from, we can proceed with the install. Enter proxy information on the next screen, if necessary. If you don’t know, then it probably isn’t necessary.
Once it downloads the rest of the installer components, it’ll ask for timezone. The new Lenny installer includes NTP support, so it syncs up online for perfect time right away.
Now comes partitioning. This can be kind of a big topic, a bit too big for this guide. You may want to refer to to partitioning guide before you carry on. In this guide, we’re going to use the whole disk, with encryption. That will wipe out ALL the data on the hard drive it’s going into. If in doubt shut down, unplug any hard drives you don’t plan to wipe and start over.
Then select your hard drive. The installer will then ask you how to partition your drive(s). If you’re not sure, go with All files in one partition. Reminder: if you chose to use the whole disk, all data currently on that disk will be lost.
You may have noticed from the screenshot, I’m installing mine from a virtual machine into a 2 GB virtual partition. For more info on using virtual machines for OS installs, check out Damien Oh’s article, How to Install Windows In Ubuntu Hardy with VirtualBox.
The installer will confirm that you want to write your changes to disk. Once you’re sure you’re doing the right thing, proceed with the install. It will erase all data currently on the drive/partition first. This, on my machine, took a really long time, but that may be because I’m running the installer in an unaccelerated virtual machine on an old desktop. Your mileage may vary. If it takes an outrageously long time, you can cancel this step. It’s mostly a security precaution.
Following the drive erasure, you will be asked to enter an encryption passphrase. As the screen says, longer is better, but make sure you don’t forget it, or you will not be able to access anything on the drive. Next the installer will ask you to confirm your partition scheme. If you chose, as I did, to let the installer do the partitioning for you, then just accept what it has decided.
Continue through the installation screens and, presuming they’re correct, allow the installer’s proposed changes to your disk. Once your disks are partitioned, the installer will download and install the base packages for your system. Once it’s finished you’ll choose your root password. Choose your root password wisely and make sure not to lose/forget it.
Next you’ll set up the user account you’ll actually be using on your system. Pick whatever user/pass combination you like and proceed with the install. You may be asked about (anonymously) participating in the package usage survey. The Debian developers want to know which packages are being used most, so they know where to devote their resources. This is entirely optional. Personally, I participate in it, as it’s another way to help improve Debian.
At this point the installer will ask which package groups to install on your system. This is what has the biggest impact on the time it takes to install, and how much space your finished system will take up. You can remove everything on this list to have a minimal install, or choose the groups you think you’ll want. I want to set up my own desktop environment, so I’m unchecking Desktop environment but leaving Standard system. That will give me just a base set of tools that I can use to construct the rest of the system any way I wish.
Now is the real system installation step. The installer is fetching the packages from the mirror you chose earlier, as well as installing and configuring those packages. This could be very fast or very slow, depending on how much software it’s fetching and the speed of the mirror it’s fetching from.
When everything is finished, we have one last step, installing the bootloader. Debian does a great job of auto-detecting other operating systems currently installed, and will set up the boot loader accordingly. Chances are, you can say Yes without worrying too much about it. And now we’re done with the install!
Go ahead and reboot your system when the installer tells you to. After the first bootloader screen, you’ll be asked for the encryption passphrase you set up earlier. You didn’t forget it, did you?
The next step that we are going to do is to configure it for optimal performance.