How to install Debian (with images)

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How to install Debian (with images)
How to install Debian (with images)

Debian is a Linux operating system with a distribution containing many GNU / Linux packages. Like all Linux operating systems, Debian is free and its code can be edited by anyone. Debian can be installed on a personal computer as well as on a server. It also kind of gave birth to the Ubuntu operating system. Debian is developed and distributed by a non-profit organization and can therefore be downloaded free of charge from its website. The installation of the Debian operating system is not very complicated: you just need an Internet connection, digital media burning software and a blank CD-ROM or an empty USB stick.


Method 1 of 2: Install Debian from CD-ROM

Install Debian Step 1

Step 1. Back up all your important files

Like any installation of a new operating system, installing Debian will overwrite everything on your hard drive. This is the result of reformatting the drive, the first step of the installation. This is why you must back up all the data you want to keep (folders, files, applications) to an external medium.

Install Debian Step 2

Step 2. Go to the Debian website

The Debian operating system is available on the Internet at this address and files are available at this address.

Install Debian Step 3

Step 3. Download the Debian installation image

Download the version of Debian that matches your computer's processor. If you do not know the type of processor of your computer, choose the netinst iso 32-bit PC image file, it is compatible with all 32-bit processors from Intel and AMD.

Install Debian Step 4

Step 4. Burn the installation image to CD-ROM or DVD

Once you've downloaded the image file, which has an.iso extension, burn it to a disc with burning software. Normally you should have one by default, otherwise download one from the internet. Your optical burner drive must accept CD-ROMs or recordable DVDs (CD-Rs and DVD-Rs). You can also burn the ISO image to a USB flash drive, provided your computer can boot from it.

Install Debian Step 5

Step 5. Restart your computer from the burned media

The ISO file is now mounted on your digital disk, leave it in the drive, and restart your computer. The computer will then restart from the disk and you will be taken directly to the Debian installation wizard.

Install Debian Step 6

Step 6. Run Debian Live directly from the removable disk

Debian includes a feature that allows it to boot directly from the disk without installation or configuration: nothing is written on the hard disk of your computer, this is the originality of Debian Live. Choose this option during installation if you want to test Debian first before installing it permanently (if you are happy with this system, of course). Be aware in advance that this Debian configuration will be slightly slower than the classic installation.

Install Debian Step 7

Step 7. Install the Debian operating system

Let yourself be guided by the installation wizard, which will display various instructions. You will have the possibility during this installation to divide your hard drive in two (dual installation), one of the partitions will be used to install Debian, the other will house your previous operating system, for example Windows.

Method 2 of 2: Install Debian from a USB stick

Install Debian Step 8

Step 1. Back up all your important files

The installation of a new operating system necessarily involves the erasure of all existing data on a hard disk. This is the reason why you must back up in a safe place (external hard drive, online storage space) all the data that you deem important. Once Debian is in place, you can safely reinstall these files on your hard drive.

Install Debian Step 9

Step 2. Recover a USB drive

Take a new one or empty one. On it, you will save the Debian installer. Since everything will be erased on the stick, if it already contains data, you should save its contents elsewhere, in a safe place.

To accommodate the installer, your USB key must have a minimum storage capacity of 2 GB

Install Debian Step 10

Step 3. Get a bootable USB drive maker program

There are plenty of utilities out there, but to name just one, UNetBootin stands out from the crowd and is available for those who work on Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux. This is the one we'll use here.

If you take another bootable USB drive creation utility than UNetBootin, the instructions given here are generally valid

Install Debian Step 11

Step 4. Download an installation image

On the Get Debian page of the Debian site, you will see that there are two installation images, one called "small", the other called "full". Read what is listed under each link and choose the one that suits you.

  • Choose the reduced version if your computer can connect to the Internet.
  • Choose the full version if you plan to install Debian on a machine without internet access. This image contains many more packages, which makes it easier to install the Debian system.

    In this case, the download will necessarily take longer, so it will be faster to download it with a torrent file, but this is only possible if you have a BitTorrent client installed on your computer

Install Debian Step 12

Step 5. Launch the bootable USB drive creator

In Windows, open the menu To start up, and then type UNetBootin. In Mac OS X, open the Spotlight internal search engine, then type UNetBootin. You will be asked to enter the administrator password: this is normal! You are entering the heart of the machine.

Install Debian Step 13

Step 6. Open the disk image

Click on the radio button DiskImage. Expand the list and choose the format ISO, then click the button on the far right with the ellipsis to choose the file concerned. In this window, locate the previously downloaded ISO file, then open it.

Install Debian Step 14

Step 7. Load the installer onto the USB stick

At the bottom of the window, verify that the drop-down list titled Type (left) is of course Usb reader and that on the right, the list Reader is on the correct medium. These two checks are essential, otherwise you risk formatting the USB drive, worse your hard drive, which is not really the point. To finish, click on OK, the USB key is ready to do its job.

The operation takes a few minutes. Beforehand, it would be wise to save everything you were doing and close the running applications: in fact, you will have to restart your computer at some point

Install Debian Step 15

Step 8. Restart your computer

Go to the start menu. Once you have saved everything that was in progress, restart your computer. After the welcome screen, locate at the bottom of the screen the function key that allows you to access the start menu: simply press this key.

  • If this access is not present on the screen, it is quite simply that it is still in the BIOS. Look at the bottom of the screen and press the key to access it. Finally, click on the tab Boot Menu (Start menu).
  • If you cannot access the boot menu or BIOS, then go on the Internet with the references of your configuration and see which keys allow you to enter these menus. Usually, you have to restart by holding down a certain key (F1, F2 or F10) or by tapping the Delete key.
  • Once in the start menu, your USB key will be identifiable by its registered trademark (Lexar, SanDisk…) or by a mention of Debian, in general the name of the version and its number. Select the key in question using the navigation arrows
Install Debian Step 16

Step 9. Follow the instructions given by the installation wizard

During this somewhat lengthy installation, it is preferable to connect your computer to your router with an Ethernet cable so as not to lose the connection along the way. Enter the information requested at each step. If you want to have two operating systems in parallel (dual), Debian and Windows, you will need to partition your hard drive, which is done at the end of the installation.


  • If for some reason you cannot download or mount the installation image, be aware that you can purchase a ready-to-use installation disc from the Debian site which will refer you to some distributors (Get Linux, for example).
  • Debian installation is a bit long, so plan to do something else during this time.

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