Debian is revered for its adherence to providing free software and stability. If you have been thinking of trying Debian to get a sense of how it works for you, then you may want to consider installing it via the Internet. This method of installation is also known as a network install. If you choose this method, you will benefit from the small OS image size, fast installation time, and low bandwidth usage. With a network install, the OS image contains the minimal amount of software needed to start the installation. In order to install things like a desktop environment, you’ll have to download them from the Internet during the installation process. Follow this detailed guide to learn how to carry out this process below.
Initial Steps (Before Boot)
First, grab the network install variant of the ISO image that suits your processor architecture, then create a bootable disk for the install. We recommend a bootable USB drive. After all, not many computers ship with an optical disk drive these days. Using the ISO file that you downloaded, use Rufus to create your bootable drive. Rufus is a compact utility that allows you to create bootable USB flash drives quickly and easily. To create your bootable USB drive, simply select the USB drive you want to use from under “Device,” then select the ISO file by pressing “SELECT.”
Simply hit Start and let the process run to completion to finish the installation process.
After creating your bootable disk, boot your computer with the disk inserted. When your computer boots up, you will see a screen that says “Debian GNU/Linux installer menu (BIOS mode).”
Debian Network Installer Steps
Select the “Graphical install” option. After a short time, you’ll be able to begin the installation process which starts by asking you to select the default language for your system.
The installer will then go through a couple of checks that include checking your network. You’ll then have to select the hostname for your system. For a personal computer, you can make up something here.
You’ll see a screen that will allow you to enter a domain name if this is relevant to your computer. For a computer on a home network, you can just make something up for this. For more complex setups, please see Debian’s manual on network setup.
After this, you’ll have to set your root password.
You’ll then have to enter the name of the main user of your computer. Following this, you’ll have to input the desired username for this user and a suitable password.
It’s time for the configuration of Debian’s clock. This essentially means you have to set the timezone for your location.
With that out of the way, partitioning your hard drive is next. The “Guided – use entire disk” method will work well in most cases. You also have the option of the “Guided – use entire disk and set up LVM” option if you need logical partitions that can spread across multiple physical disks. The “Guided – use entire disk and set up encrypted LVM” option allows you to set up encrypted logical volumes. The “Manual” option doesn’t provide you with a partitioning wizard. Instead, you have to choose whether you want to set up logical or primary partitions on your hard drives. You also have to manually select the file system.
You’ll be warned that all of your data will be erased if you continue with this process. You’ll also have to select the disk that you want to partition.
During this process, choose whether you want to have a separate home partition. If you have a separate home partition, you’ll be able to reinstall your OS and still keep your settings which the operating system stores on the home partition.
After the partitioning process has been completed, the base system installation will begin. This is the installation of the core Debian files.
Setting Up Package Manager and Debian Archive Mirror
You’ll need to configure the package manager. Start by choosing the country nearest to yours. The goal of this is to choose software that is mirrored in a country as close to yours as possible.
For the next step, choose a Debian archive mirror. Usually, “deb.debian.org” is a good choice.
After choosing the mirror that suits you best, it will be time to enter an HTTP proxy if you need one.
Installing Software Over the Internet, GRUB Bootloader, and Wrapping Up
You can now choose the additional software you want to use. The options include desktop environments, a web server, a print server, an SSH server, and standard system utilities. A solid choice of software would be the Debian desktop environment, a print server, an SSH server, and standard system utilities. The desktop environment is especially important since this provides you with a GUI to interact with when using your system.
After you make your selection, the installer will download and install the necessary files. Next, allow the installer to install the GRUB boot loader.
That’s the final step! You can now do a restart and boot up your new Debian installation! Remember to remove the installation media after the restart.
With broadband access being easily accessible in this day and age, installing Debian via the Internet is one of the more convenient and quick options for carrying out an install. The ISO image is only 349MB, and the installation takes 20 to 30 minutes, even though you have to wait for software to download and install. The only way this method would be unfavorable is if you’re using an unstable internet connection.
If you already have Debian installed, follow this guide to upgrade your Debian instead.
Image credit: hayderctee
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