Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 “etch” Installation

Installation prerequisites

Debian LogoIt is said that the installation of Debian Linux is know as one of the hardest among all Linux Distributions. In this article we will see that this is just a myth, in fact it is very easy, even for beginners. All you need is basic understanding of disk partitioning techniques and a downloaded/burned netinstall image which suits the hardware architecture you intend to install onto Debian Linux, and a internet connection. Of course there are other requirements, such as a working PC with a CD-ROM drive and free/unpartitioned space on your hard disk. :”’NOTE:”’ Do not download all Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 installation disks! You only need the first CD or go to netinstall CD.




Beginning of the installation

Make sure you set your BIOS to boot from the CD-ROM. Once you boot Debian, it will welcome you with an Introductory Screen similar to the one below.

Debian Etch Introductory Screen

At this stage you can navigate with the function keys F1-F10:

  • Help index.
  • Prerequisites for installing Debian.
  • Boot methods for special ways of using this CD-ROM.
  • Additional boot methods; rescue mode.
  • Special boot parameters, overview.
  • Special boot parameters for special machines.
  • Special boot parameters for selected disk controllers.
  • Special boot parameters for the install systems. * How to get help. * Copyrights and warranties.

Feel free to navigate through all ten screens. Once you are ready press F3 which allows you to choose from 4 different types of Boot methods. See picture below:

Debian Boot Methods

Just to keep things simple, you should start the installation in text mode; so type “install” and press enter. Let your PC boot and start installer. Here you can choose preferred language, country and keyboard:

Debian Preferred Language

Hardware Detection

This part of installation is pretty much automatic and does not require your interaction with Debian installer. Debian installer loads all required components and detects your hardware.

Debian Hardware Detection

Configuring Network Interface Card

It is time to connect your network card to your LAN and consequently to the Internet. If there is a DHCP server available on you Local Area Network you do not need to interact with installer. However, if no DHCP server is available you will be asked to manually configure your networks interface. Choose “Configure network manually” and press ENTER. Then supply Debian installer with information such us:

  • IP address
  • network mask
  • gateway
  • name server

Network Interface Configuration

Type your preferred hostname, your hostname can be changed anytime after installation, so just pick something quickly and continue installation.

Hostname Settings

Hard Disk Partitioning

This part of installation can be considered as the hardest. It require a basic understanding of partitioning techniques. Make sure you know what you are doing before its to late.

Guided Partitioning

Debian Guided Partitioning

Here you can choose which hard disk to use.

Partition Disks - entire disk

Here we can choose partitioning type according our needs.

Partition Disks - Warning

Partitions are ready to use.

Partition Disks are ready - Guided Partitioning

Manual Partitioning

Create ext3 partitions

Manual Partitioning
Select free space
Create new partition
Partition size
Type of partition
Location of partition
root of partition
Feel free to create more partitions according your needs. If you intent to create more than 4 partition keep in mind that 4th partition needs to be an extended partition. To do this, simply create a logical partition after your 3rd primary partition.

Create swap partition

Do NOT forget about swap partition!! Swap partition type
Select Swap partition type

Creation of User Accounts

This part of installation is very simple. You will be asked to enter a root password and create a user for you new system.
Setup Users and Passwords

Core System Installation

Automatic installation of all core packages. No interaction with Debian installer is required. Installing the Base System

APT tool setup

If you configured your network interface correctly you can now add some mirrors for package manager to use which can serve as a supplement for software which is not available on CD. Because we used the netinstall cd this step is pretty much compulsory.
Configure the package manager

Choose a mirror which is closest to you.

Apt Mirror Selection

Select packages to install

Since you would like to have clean installation and just necessary packages, remove all selections and all options: dselect install

Boot Loader Installation

This part of Debian installation is very important. Debian installer attempts to detect other installed operating systems. If Debian installer finds other operating systems it will give you an option to install grub on some other partition rather than MBR, which is in many cases a good choice. Make sure you set a boot flag on your partition where you have installed GRUB. Debian installer will prompt you to make this partition bootable(active). If you do not have any other operating systems installed feel free to install GRUB in the Master Boot Record (MBR).

Install GRUB loader

Installation Complete

What you just installed is the bare minimum, at this stage you can use apt-get tool to install the rest.
Debian Installation Complete


This installation of Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 contains the bare minimum in regards to packages required to run this system. Do not despair! You can use apt-get tool to help you customize your system to fit your needs.
Ready to login
Disk space usage after installation