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Prepare for a Debian Installation on a Linux Server

Here we cover aspects of the planning process so a Debian installation goes smoothly.
  1. Terminal - Access the Debian Jessie server and take notes in nano.
  2. debian.org - Find the official installation guide so you can learn how to install Linux.
  3. Key points - Review seven considerations, including architecture, firmware, the Debian iso download and a Debian network install.
  4. What's next? - See our next task.
face pic by Paul Alan Davis, CFA
Updated: February 21, 2021
An installation can be tricky, but in the end we will see why so many Data Scientists choose Debian.

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Learn How to Install Debian on a Linux Server


Video Tutorial

Videos can also be accessed from our Full Stack Playlist 1 on YouTube.

Prepare for a Debian Linux installation on a Linux Server (4:59)

Code Examples and Video Script

Welcome. Today's question: How should you prepare for a Debian Linux installation?

I'm Paul, and if you're like me, then you like to do it right the first time, especially when installing a new operating system.

Over the next few videos, I'll show you how I've taken this Lenovo ThinkCentre, that had Windows pre-loaded, wiped it clean and installed Debian version 8.

This is part of a bigger project in Data Science, and we're working on our Linux skills, so first we'll go to the Terminal and take some notes.

Then I'll point you to a specific helpful guide on debian.org, and I'll summarize key points there, then conclude with our next steps.

Step 1 - Terminal

Okay, we just logged in to that same computer, a server, located in my office in California. My client laptop has Windows on it, so I'm using PuTTY and the secure shell (SSH) to interact with this server.

paul@fullstack:~$ lsb_release -a No LSB modules are available. Distributor ID: Debian Description: Debian GNU/Linux 8.6 (jessie) Release: 8.6 Codename: jessie

Using lsb_release -a, we can see that my installation was successful.

Let's change directories to notes, start a new file using nano, and summarize what you should know before the installation.

paul@fullstack:~$ cd notes paul@fullstack:~/notes$ nano video0005.txt

Step 2 - debian.org

Start out by going to the home page at debian.org, acquaint yourself with it, and eventually make your way to this location debian.org/releases/stable/installmanual.

GNU nano 2.2.6 File: video0005.txt Navigate to: debian.org/releases/stable/installmanual Debian Installation Summary - architecture - firmware - installation media - images and disk space - BIOS - text-based or GUI - customization ^G Get Help ^O WriteOut ^R Read File ^Y Prev Page ^K Cut Text ^C Cur Pos ^X Exit ^J Justify ^W Where Is ^V Next Page ^U UnCut Text ^T To Spell

First off, relative to other Linux distributions, to me Debian documentation isn't fancy but it does come in multiple languages and is comprehensive, which is why I created this summary video.

Second, Debian publishes an Installation Guide in PDF, HTML and plain text format. My PDF was 147 pages, so yes, comprehensive.

Step 3 - Key Points

First, on key points, where you start is with the architecture, and Debian supports eight hardware varieties, including those for ARM chips, 32-bit Intel chips, MIPS and Power PC. My architecture is 64-bit with an Intel chip, so I'm using an installation called amd64.

Next, firmware. It's a good idea to take an inventory of all hardware on your computer because you may need to find files to work with your specific hardware, like for a wireless network card, as an example.

Then, installation media. How will you load Debian on the machine? Options include CDs and DVDs, plus a USB flash drive, with more advanced options; including, network install and hard disk installs. You can buy the CDs and DVDs from a vendor or download the images.

Next, those downloaded images. An ISO file is what you might find on an optical drive. And you have two options here, the Small Installation Image ISO is preferred as it will pull additional files after it connects to the Internet. It's less than a couple hundred megabytes. Second, is the Complete Installation Image ISO that's over a gigabyte and is used to install without the Internet.

Next, BIOS, which stands for Basic Input/Output System, often found on PCs, is the first software that runs on startup and here is where you will point the computer to boot your installation media.

You can install text-based Debian (command-line only), or a more resource-hungry graphical user interface, or GUI. Your option there.

Then a whole slew of custom features, like language support, keyboards, monitors, disks and networks can all be set up by the first and most privileged user on the system, called the root user.

So as I save this file, Ctrl-x y Enter, view it using a page-viewer called less.

Navigate to: debian.org/releases/stable/installmanual Debian Installation Summary - architecture - firmware - installation media - images and disk space - BIOS - text-based or GUI - customization video0005.txt (END)

Then exit the Terminal, exit, I'll summarize the direction I'll take in the next few videos. I will download the Small Installation Image ISO on a USB thumb drive and install the text-only operating system.

Step 4 - Next Steps

And this is the stack we're building.

For our journey in Data Science (from Beginner to Advanced).

You are invited to join at any time, and please return for video (tutorial) 6 where I'll answer: "How do you create a Linux bootable flash USB drive?"

Have a nice day.

What's Next?

Continue the journey to Data Science with us. Connect at YouTube, Twitter and at our mailing list.

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