How to install Debian Linux – Complete Guide

Today, I’ll show you how to download and install Debian Linux, simply follow each step or watch the video guide further below.

About Debian

Debian Linux, aka “The Universal Operating System”, is a Linux distribution created by Ian Murdock in 1993 that has since become one of the most widely deployed Linux distro’s in the world. Debian has a massive repository of 50,000+ software packages, supports a huge range of CPU architectures including x86, x64, ARM, mips, PowerPC, and has become extremely popular in web server environments using the standard LAMP stack. Debian is also the engine behind more well-known Linux distro’s like Ubuntu, Knoppix and many more.

Fun Fact: The name “Debian” is a combination of Ian’s first name and his then-girlfriend Debra Lynn’s first name.

Download Debian

Before downloading Debian, you need to know if your target machine is x86 or x64 architecture. If you’re unsure, download the x86 (i386) version, otherwise download the x64 version if your hardware supports it. Remember by installing Debian you will lose all data on the target machine’s hard drive, that includes personal files, music, video, everything unless you have previously backed up to an external device. Once you’re sure you’ve backed up your data (if necessary) follow the steps below:

Download via BitTorrent

  1. Download qBittorrent and install
  2. You’ll only need to download the first CD/DVD because you can download other software as required
  3. For server installations (no desktop), download either i368 (x86) or amd64 (x64)
    • x64 choose the CD-1 .torrent file, ie debian-X.X.X-amd64-xfce-CD-1.iso.torrent
    • x86 choose the CD-1 .torrent file, ie debian-X.X.X-i386-xfce-CD-1.iso.torrent
  4. For full desktop installations, download either i386 (x86) or amd64 (x64)
    • x64 choose the DVD-1 .torrent file, ie debian-X.X.X-amd64-DVD-1.iso.torrent
    • x86 choose the DVD-1 .torrent file, ie debian-X.X.X-i386-DVD-1.iso.torrent
  5. Take note of the download location (most of the time it will default to your Downloads folder)

Create bootable USB drive

The best way to install Debian is using a bootable USB drive, but you can still burn the ISO image to DVD using ISO Recorder.

  1. Download Rufus
  2. Insert a USB drive (minimum 4GB) making sure there’s no files on it you don’t need
  3. Open Rufus and select your USB drive for the Device option
  4. For Boot Selection, browse and select the Debian ISO image you downloaded earlier
  5. Leave everything at defaults and click START (Rufus may alert you to certain issues, just follow the recommendations)
  6. Rufus will begin burning the ISO image to your USB drive, should take about 15 minutes

Installing Debian Linux

Adjusting boot settings

Insert the USB drive into target computer, then boot up making sure you choose the Boot Options key (usually F12, F2, F10 or Esc keys) just after switching on, then choose your USB drive to boot.

TIP: Boot up your target computer and wait for the first screen, look at the bottom which should show which key is the Boot Options key. Press and hold power button to turn off. Insert USB drive and boot up pressing the Boot Options key repeatedly, then select your USB drive from the list.

Begin installation

1. After booting up Debian, select Graphical Install (default) using the up and down arrow keys

Language, Location and Network

2. Select the Language you want to install as default.

3. Select your Location. Debian will set clocks, download mirrors and other settings based on this selection.

4. Select your Keyboard Language (American English is most common).

5. Debian will now configure network and other settings.

6. Enter a Hostname for your computer, something short and descriptive (i.e. david-office).

7. Choose a Domain Name. If you’re on a home network, this can be anything (e.i. For corporate networks ask your Network Administrator.

Users, Passwords and Timezone

8. Enter a Root Password. This is for the Debian root account, not user account (that’s next).

9. Enter your Name. Usually just your first name will do.

10. Enter a Username or leave at Debian’s suggestion (recommended).

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I was a musician till the age of 30 with a keen interest in technology. I did a short web design course which sparked my interest in programming and in 2009 I launched Ricmedia Guitar, then Ricmedia PC Help. I now publish tech articles and tutorials on the main domain.

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