'Installation' no longer a Debian feature?
I recently decided to go back to Linux as my main OS, mainly because I just want to learn how to use it and also because I honestly think that once I'm comfortable with it it will serve me better than any Windows version ever could. After lots of hassle with Mandrake 10.0 that I won't go into, I thought I'd give Debian a go since it always seemed like a nice distro, and one that would make me use the command line once every so often and so help me get used to how Linux 'really' works. I knew the installer woldn't be easy but I live with somebody far more familiar with Linux than me, so I thought I'd be OK.
I downloaded the first four ISOs of the latest unstable build, 'sid', and after burning them booted up with CD 1. After a few basic configuration screens, I became stumped. I had the following menu options available to me:
Worryingly, 'install base system', 'partition hard drive' or 'begin installation' are all very much not on that list. Now, I'm assuming that there is some secret command I must type in at the shell in order to actually start the installation, since the alternative is that the makers of Debian forgot to make this build installable. And if they've managed to do that then I might as well try Fedora, in the hopes that there is at least one recent Linux distro that will install on my machine.
At which point were you in the process? i.e. have you configured the keyboard, country? If you haven't started those then start at the beginning. In my opinion you are not wise to start with Sid. It is cutting edge and problems do occur and you may well find you are totally out of your depth. I suggest getting the new installer which you will find here and perhaps use Woody for a while until you get used to the systems (use the bf24 option which installs the 2.4.18 kernel). If you feel brave install Sarge (testing).
I prefer using the old stable Woody installer. I know how it works and it is reliable and works every time. When done I simply upgrade to Sarge (testing) since that's what I prefer to run. The installer may not be the prettiest but like I said, it's reliable. Just choose the item at the top all the time for the quickest way to a running Debian system.
The installer in Sid is Debian-Installer which is still in beta. Sid in itself should be considered Alpha - not suitable for production computers, and errors are to be expected. That's what Sid is all about, so if you use Sid (or Sarge) make sure you actually participate and file bug reports and followups.
or you could try out progeny's debian iso images, they feature red hat's anaconda as installer
get them here
the old installer is just too fine and the beta installer isn't well tested enough...
The only reason I went with SID is that I would like to use a distro with the 2.6 kernel. I know that I can install any distro and just upgrade, but I guess I've been using Windows for too long, as that doesn't feel 'right' to me, it seems like things wouldn't be 'integrated' enough.
I'm still confused as to what exactly you're supposed to do after booting from a SID CD, if you can't install the OS with it?
Re the new installer, I used the Beta3 about 2 weeks ago and found it excellent. I installed sarge with it and have the 2.6.3 kernel so it is possible to have the 2.63 kernel. After doing the install just apt-get install the 2.6.3 kernel and its done. In regard to Sid it's definitlely not a newbie flavour and its not intended or advised for any newbie to Linux. I have been using Debian for 18 months and don't really feel confident enough to work through possible problems. I have found Sarge very good and only found one glitch with Mozilla freezing up when a certain page loads or refuses to load but that may be a mozilla problem and have nothing to do with Debian.
These are just some notes I made when I last installed Debian using a snapshot of beta 3 Sarge Debian-installer (dated about 2 weeks ago):
First you need to boot from the 'Sarge' Debian-installer CD:
1. Press ENTER to boot.
2. Choose language [fi_FI in my case to get Finnish language settings; later you can run 'dpkg-reconfigure locales' to change this]
3. Choose keyboardmap [fi-latin1 in my case; later you can run 'dpkg-reconfigure console-data' to change this]
4. Choose module for ethernet card ['none' in my case; pcnet_cs would have been accurate for my PCMCIA NIC but Debian refused to load it -- had to 'modprobe pcnet_cs' after installation]
5. Debian-installer Main Menu: Partition disks
[I had already made room for Debian partition by running QtParted from SystemRescueCD and shrinking my WinXP NTFS partition; also Knoppix has QtParted (but no GAG)]
-- detect hardware
-- partition disks: - swap, -ReiserFS (mount point /)
-- Write changes to disk: <YES>
6. Install GRUB to master boot record [I use GAG (from SystemRescueCD) boot loader, so I said NO here]
-- Device for boot loader installation [In my case, Debian is in hard disk 1, partition 6, which translates to GRUB as (hd0,5), because GRUB starts counting from number 0]
-- Fatal error [I needed to install GRUB again to make it work]
7. Debian-installer Main Menu: Install the GRUB boot loader
-- again asks me if I want to install GRUB to master boot record [NO again; success]
8. Finish the installation [Continue]
After this basic installation I rebooted to my new system and went through the after-installation procedure.
Next I configured the network:
-- DNS in /etc/resolv.conf
-- loopback interface & NIC in /etc/network/interfaces
[I have PCMCIA NIC so I didn't make 'auto' entry for my NIC]
-- made the proper ftp entry in /etc/apt/sources.list [this can be made by running 'apt-setup']
-- then I modprobed my NIC that wasn't configured during installation. [You quite probably don't need to do this.]
-- I had to reboot to make my system work; If you are successful in configuring your network during the installation, you can continue by launching 'aptitude', updating APT, and installing the programs you want to.
[I suggest you start by installing 'x-window-system-core', 'mdetect', 'read-edid', 'mc', 'aterm', and 'fluxbox' to get you started. 'mdetect' tries to auto-configure your mouse and 'read-edid' does the same for your monitor. Better yet, get these specs from Knoppix.]
Then run 'nano .xinitrc' and write 'exec fluxbox' to make it possible to start fluxbox by writing 'startx' from the command line.
If X refuses to launch, you need to run 'dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xfree86' again and give the proper values for your hardware.
[If you've got a PCMCIA NIC, rename /etc/rc2.d/S20pcmcia to /etc/rc2.d/S12pcmcia in order to make sure that your NIC is properly configured before the network connection is started.] [I also use Firestarter so I renamed the firestarter firewall script from /etc/rc2.d/S20firestarter to /etc/rc2.d/S30firestarter so that the network is properly configured before my firewall script starts.]
[These are just my notes for an installation for this particular hardware. Hope they help someone, though.]
PS. the address for the Sarge Debian-installer is:
and the actual procedure of installation is very much likely to be much easier for you than it was for me. I have PCMCIA NIC in one box and PPPoE ADSL connection in another, which makes things more difficult for me than they usually are.
Or boot with the old Woody images and just use 'bf24 verbose' and then pick unstable when downloading packages. That's what I do and it works every time, but I do like the new Sarge installer....
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