How to install Debian GNU/Linux on your computer

Published on November 30, 2004

NOTE: This is an ancient post, written in 2004. I left it here for archival purposes. Please find the newer blog post for installing Debian GNU/Linux here.

I installed Debian Sarge (testing) on my office computer a few days ago. Though Debian is not new to me, it was fun renewed.

Here are the steps involved in installing Debian Linux on your computer. Some steps may vary because of lack of support for different hardware, but most of it should hold for your computer.

1. Download and do the base install

You need only the first Debian ISO file for your install. I downloaded mine from's BitTorrent section.

Burn the ISO image to a CD using k3g on Linux or Nero on Windows. Then to be on the safe side, burn a CD with Knoppix so that you will know which hardware is supported by Linux. Also, Knoppix has an excellent hardware detection, you will observe which kernel modules are loaded.

Boot off the Debian installer CD and just go with the installer. If you find this installer hard to use, you probably need to install Mandrake Linux to get the initial feel of Linux.

In case you get any messages like "No ethernet card found!!" or any of your hardware is not being detected, just proceed till you finish the base system install.

When you are at the partitioning stage, you'll find only Ext2 as the existing file system for Debian. That is fine with us for now - we can upgrade it to Ext3 later. Make sure you have at least 2 partitions, one for the system+home files and the other for swap. Set the swap space to twice the amount of RAM, and limit the swap space to a maximum of 512 MB. Let the Linux system partition be set as a primary partition because we will boot off it later.

Allow Grub to be the new default bootloader, unless you want to keep the old bootloader which could be the Windows bootloader!

Over here right now, I have Debian running on /dev/hda4 and the swap at /dev/hda5. (Windows has the /dev/hda1 partition)

When you are at the apt configuration stage, set as your Debian mirror, or whichever mirror is geographically closest to you.

Anytime you wish to go back to the menu, just type base-config

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Published on November 30, 2004