I won’t waste any time so here we go.
First thing you need to do is head to http://www.debian.org/CD/ and download the stable release i386 version of CD1. The disc image I’m using in this guide is debian-6.0.4-i386-cd-1.iso. There are many newer versions, which you could use as well, once you install it a few times, everything is very similar even in newer and other versions of Linux.
Using your disc burning software, burn the .iso you downloaded to a CD or DVD.
Before you go any further, ensure all important data is backed up in case of data loss on your drives. This guide assumes you have media backups of your hard drives and you are safe to proceed.
***Warning: Installing another operating system without first ensuring you have backups of your current files and operating system is a big risk. If you have no data to lose or you’ve backed up important data, you’re ready to proceed. YOU are responsible if you lose data. For those of you using Windows, and installing Linux for the first time I recommend you either use a separate hard disk that does not contain the Windows OS, or create a partition big enough for Linux within Windows using Disk Management in the Administrative Tools menu of the control panel. 20 Gigabytes is more then enough to play with.
Make sure you have a network cable connected, restart your computer, and boot from the CD drive.
When it boots up, you’ll be presented by the following box:
Using the arrow keys on your keyboard select the “graphical install” and hit enter.
The installer will then load up and initialize the graphical install environment, after a short while you will be presented with the following box:
Select your language you want to use and click “continue.”
The next screen you will see is “select your location,” as below:
Select your location and click “continue.”
You will now be greeted by the next screen to select your keyboard locale, as below:
Choose the keyboard layout for your region. The default is usually automatically highlighted according to your region and language chosen. If you are not sure, leave the default selected. Then click “continue.”
The installer will then load more packages from the CD in order to progress with the installation of Debian. Once complete it will begin with the configuration of your network, starting with the hostname as below:
Either leave the default of “debian” or change the name to suit whatever you would like to name your computer on the network. For most home users you can enter any value here. For those installing Linux to integrate with existing commercial networks consult your Systems Administrator for further clarification.
Once you have entered the name you wish to use, select “continue.”
The domain name in most cases for home users can safely be ignored. Leave the box blank, and select “continue” to proceed to the next step. The network will then automatically configure and verify the connection before proceeding.
The installer will then move on to the “set up users and passwords” part of the installation of Debian, as below:
Enter the password you would like to use for the root account, and click “continue.”
Tip: The admin password is not the same as the user password. This password is used in order to elevate user permissions in order to perform certain tasks as the administrator in Debian. Even in a single user installation of Linux this password should be unique and not used by another user account for security reasons. Having a user password, grants you access only to that users environment. If anything happens, per say a virus or a corruption of the user profile, unlike windows, you can still log into the Admin environment and possibly fix the problem.
The installer will then ask you to create the first user account for your Linux installation.
Enter the “real name” of the first user and click “continue.” The installer will then load the next screen asking what username you would like to use for the first user account.
The installer will have filled in the value for your first name. This can of course be changed to whatever you prefer. Once you are happy with the username click “continue” to move onto the password selection for the new user account.
Tip: The user’s name in Linux is case sensitive, so for this reason it is considered best practice to type the username in lowercase, with no leading uppercase letter. e.g. blaine, not Blaine.
Type the password for the user account, and then re-enter it in the second box to verify it and click “continue” to move on to the next stage of the Debian installation.
The installation will then move onto the “partition disks” stage of the installation, as below:
For this tutorial we’re going to go with the first option, “guided — use entire disk. So select this and then click “continue” to move to the next step, at which point you’ll be presented with the following window.
****TIP: if you understand partitions, you can set it up how you want.
For those installing Debian Linux on a computer with more than one physical hard disk, you will see multiple hard disks in the above window. Select the correct one you wish to use, and then click “continue” to proceed.
You will now have three choices:
1. All files in one partition — Linux uses one partition for all the essential directories during installation.
2. Separate /home partition — This method will create a root partition (/) and a separate /home partition for your personal files and user settings.
3. Separate /home, /usr, /var, and /tmp partitions — This method creates multiple partitions as well as a root partition.
Having separate partitions is worthwhile for those that will be regularly upgrading or migrating between Linux distributions. I recommend you select the second option, to create a partition for /home to keep your personal files and user settings separate from the root partition.
Choose the option you want to use, and then click “continue” and the installer will then automatically provision the partitions you selected based on your total available storage. Once complete, the installer will then ask you to view these changes, as below.
So to re-cap what is above:
Partition #1 is your new root (/) partition.
Partition #2 is your swap partition.
Partition #3 is your /home partition.
Double check you’re happy with the changes about to be made, then click the “yes” button, and click “continue” to write them to disk. At this point the partitions will be written, and any data contained on the disk selected will be erased. Ensure you have backups before you click “continue.”
Double check the partitions have been created according to the option you selected and then click “continue” to proceed.
The installer will now begin to copy the base install files to the hard disk partitions you have created in the last steps.
Once this is complete you will be presented with the following option:
The following screen will give you the option to scan for additional packages that might be included on additional media.
This option is not needed for the type of installation you are performing, so select “no” and then click “continue” to proceed.
****TIP: It is advisable to select “yes” for this option so the installer can install additional packages, as well as newer versions. Once you have chosen the option, select “continue” to proceed to the next step.
You’ll then be presented with the screen to select the network mirror.
Ensure the correct option is selected, above you will see the correct (and default UK) selection has been automatically made for me based on my location selected earlier in the installation. Then click “continue” to proceed.
You will then be presented with a list of available mirrors for your locale.
The first option is preferred, but you can use any of the listed locations as your Debian archive mirror. Once selected, click “continue” to move onto the next step.
You will now be greeted by the following “HTTP Proxy” screen, as below.
Unless you have any specific proxy requirements you can safely ignore this step. Leave the text box blank and select “continue” to proceed to the next step.
The next screen you will see will ask you if you wish to submit your computer and installation information to Debian.
No personally identifiable information is sent to the developers and it is purely used for statistical purposes. If you choose to participate, your computer will automatically send statistics on a weekly basis that among other things is used to identify which packages are used more frequently and should be included on the first distro CD (the one we’re using now to install Debian). Select whichever option you prefer, and then click “continue” to proceed to the next step.
The next menu you will give you the options to install various software “groups” as seen below.
Select the “Graphical desktop environment” check box and ensure “Standard system utilities” is also selected. You can also select any other required services to suit your installation requirements. Laptop users are also advised to select the “laptop” option as well. Once you have selected the required options click “continue” to proceed with their installation.
The default Desktop Environment used by Debian CD1 is Gnome 2.30. Although other options are available by those wishing to manually install them, it is beyond the scope of this guide.
The installer will then retrieve and install the required packages for the options you selected in the last step.
This stage can take some time, and depends solely on the speed of your internet connection and available hardware resources.
You will now be presented with the following screen for the installation of GRUB.
GRUB is the boot loader used to “hand over” the booting of the operating system after BIOS passes over to the hard disks. Traditionally it is installed to the Master Boot Record (MBR) on the first physical disk started by BIOS once checks are completed. If you are dual booting with another operating system it should be listed here, and will be added to GRUB so you can select each OS at boot time.
Check “yes” is selected then click “continue” to write the boot loader to your MBR.
You will now be presented with the following screen, indicating that the installation of Debian is complete.
Click “continue” to reboot into your new installation of Debian. If prompted, remove the CD and hit enter to finish the reboot sequence.
If you have multiple operating systems these will be shown in the list below. The highlighted entry will automatically load in a few seconds, but you can click enter to immediately proceed.
You will then be presented with Debian’s login screen, as shown below.
Select your username and then fill it your password to proceed to the desktop. Once the desktop environment has loaded you’ll be presented with a desktop like below.
Now you can enjoy your new Linux OS and begin exploring its features.
Thank you for taking the time to read this guide and hopefully you will gain greater insight into the options of different operating systems.