I know you people don't like to hear this, but there is no substitute for reading.
debian.org >documentation >manuals > apt-howto
use Hilux to install woody, comes with kernel 2.4.26 and a bunch of upgraded stuff.
to install use the directions from:
The Very Verbose Debian 3.0 Installation Walkthrough
forget about Tasksel, Deselect, Framebuffer, use only apt-get.
After you are done, installing, you'll have a lean machine, with Synaptic, x-window-system, fluxbox (if you want instead of wmaker)
apt-get install locales, vim or other favorite editor.
change stable for testing or unstable in the /etc/apt/sources.list with your favorite editor
and then you are on Sarge or Sid. They both have Gnome 2.6, Do:
apt-get install gnome
now you have gnome and fluxbox.
I only use fluxbox or icewm; everything else imho, is a waste of resources, better allocate those resources to speed.
Once you are in Sarge or Sid:
apt-get install guarddog
in the protocols flap, choose what you need, 5 minutes later, you got your firewall running. If you don't know what to choose, post your questions.
how do you get to this point? reading!