10. The number one cause of computer problems is computer solutions. - Murphy's Laws of Computing

Installing Debian Sarge

Friday 30th September 2005

Categories: Guides, GNU/Linux, FLOSS

Basic Installation

Next you should be asked:

Choose a language:

I use English, so, oddly enough, I select English. (Just for future reference - use the arrow keys and Tab to move around, the Enter key for when you need to select one item, and the space bar for when you need to select items from a list, in similar fashion to tick boxes). Next is our location; the screen should say:

Based on your language, you are probably located in one of these countries or regions.

Choose a country, territory or area:

That's the United Kingdom for me - so far, fairly easy! Next is the keyboard layout, with the screen stating:

Keymap to use:

Again, a relatively simple choice. The installer will suggest the one that makes the most sense, so it selected British English for me. Next, we have some network configuration. The instructions make good sense to begin with, so I'll just type them out again:

Please enter the hostname for this system.

The hostname is a single word that identifies your system to the network. If you don't know what your hostname should be, consult your network administrator. If you are setting up your own home network, you can make something up here.

See? Fairly sensible advice. I went for the wonderfully original name of penguin - I hope you can come up with something better! Next is the disk partitioning - the screen should read:

This installer can guide you through partitioning a disk for use by Debian, or if you prefer, you can do it manually. If you do choose to use the guided partitioning tool, you will still have a chance to see the results, customise it, and even undo the partitioning if you do not like it.

Now you can decide where to install Debian. Due to my already full disk, I have the choice of manual editing or erasing my entire hard disk. If you have some free space, you should also get the choice of using the free space. If you didn't choose manual editing, you should be guided through the process. The main two ways I normally install a system is either to lump it all into a single big partition, or as a 'Desktop machine'. For my own systems, I normally choose a Desktop machine. What this means is that the /home directories are kept separately from the rest of the system. The result is, if you decide to reinstall, you can keep all of your documents and most of your settings (at least the ones set on the user level). If you're still not sure, then having all the files on one partition is fine.

Next, you should be shown how the installer has distributed the space. You can change it around, although the installer tends to decide the spaces quite sensibly. I often leave far too much space for the root filesystem - about 10GB. This is to make sure I don't run out of room, especially since I barely use any in my home directory, but less than that is still plenty.

You can play around the different partitions - once you're happy, you can hit Finish partitioning and save changes to disk and you should get a screen that starts:

If you continue, the changes listed below will be written to the disks.

WARNING: This will destroy all data on any partitions you have removed as well as on the partitions that are going to be formatted.

That's your last chance to go back! Once you select Yes, you can wave goodbye to whatever was on your hard disk (assuming you're formatting over another installation).

Now the installer will ask:

Install the GRUB boot loader to the master boot record?

The message beforehand will vary as to whether you have another operating system on the system. If you do have another operating system, it should be listed. If it isn't, then you might want to stop here since you won't be able to get back into the operating system easily. Otherwise, hit Yes, and the installation will continue. You'll be asked to take your CD out, which you don't really need to do if you just change the boot order so that it boots from the hard disk rather than the CD drive. The next thing that should happen is... a reboot!