As you initially install Debian, there are several steps that you shall undergo, in order:
Each step may have multiple methods. Note that different platforms will have different methods available to it; this document only describes the methods available for Intel x86.
Booting the Debian installation system, the first step, can be accomplished with the following media:
These different choices are described in Choosing Initial Boot Media, Section 5.1.1. The first boot is sometimes the hardest, depending on your hardware. It is described in it's own section, Booting the Installation System, Chapter 6.
Once you've booted into Linux, the
will launch and guide you through the second step, the initial system
configuration. This step is described in detail in Using
dbootstrap for Initial System
Configuration, Chapter 7.
The ``Debian base system'' is a core set of packages which are
required to run Debian in a minimal, stand-alone fashion. Once you
have configured and installed the base system, your machine can
``stand on its own''. The Debian base system can be installed from
the following media: floppies, hard disk, CD-ROM, or from an NFS
dbootstrap will perform this installation; it is
described in ``Install the Base System'', Section 7.14.
The final step is the installation of the remainder of the Debian
system. This would include the applications and documents that you
actually use on your computer, such as the X Window System, editors,
shells, and development environments. The rest of the Debian system
can be installed from CD-ROM or any mirror of the Debian archive (on
or off the Internet, via HTTP, FTP, or NFS). At this point, you'll be
using the standard Debian package management tools, such as
apt-get. This step is described
in Installing the Rest of Your System, Section 7.26.
Note that the media you use for one step and the media used for another step do not need to be the same. That is, you can boot from the Rescue Floppy, install the base system from NFS, and then install the remainder of the system from the Internet. If you're downloading the system from the archive, you'll generally boot and install the base system from floppies, installing the complete Debian system from the Internet.
Below you will find a description of the different installation methods, and a description of files which might be required for installation. Which files you use, and what steps you have to take to prepare your installation media, will vary with the method that you select to install Debian.
First, choose the media to use to boot the installation system. Next, choose the method you will use to install the base system. As discussed above, these decisions can be made independently.
To boot the installation system, you have the following choices: floppies, bootable CD-ROM, or a non-Linux boot loader.
Booting from floppies is supported for most platforms. Floppy booting is described in Booting from Floppies, Section 5.6.1.
CD-ROM booting is one of the easiest ways to install. If you're unlucky and the kernel on the CD-ROM doesn't work for you, you'll have to fall back to another technique. Installing from CD-ROM is described in Installing from a CD-ROM, Section 5.4.
Booting from an existing operating system is often a convenient option; for some systems it is the only supported method of installation. This method is described in Installing from a Hard Disk, Section 5.3.
The base system can be installed in the following ways: from floppies (Installing Base from Floppies, Section 5.7.1), from a CD-ROM (Installing from a CD-ROM, Section 5.4), from an NFS server (Installing from NFS, Section 5.5), or from a local hard disk (Installing from a Hard Disk, Section 5.3). You should choose whatever method matches the media you have, and whatever is the most convenient.
This section contains an annotated list of files you will find in the
disks-i386 directory. You may not need to
download these at all; it all depends on the booting and base
system installation media you have chosen.
Most files are floppy disk images; that is, a single file which can be written to a disk to create the necessary floppy disk. These images are, obviously, dependent on the size of the target floppy, such as 1.4MB, 1.2MB, or 720KB. Which sizes are available depends on your platform (i.e., 720KB drives are Atari-specific). The images for 1.4MB drives have `14' embedded in their filenames, 1.2MB images have `12' somewhere in their filename, 720KB drives have `72' in their filename.
If you are using a web browser on a networked computer to read this
document, you can probably retrieve the files by selecting their names
in your web browser. Depending on your browser you may need to take
special action to download directly to a file, in raw binary mode. For
example, in Netscape you need to hold the shift key when clicking on
the URL to retrieve the file. Files can be downloaded from the URLs
in this document, or you can retrieve them from
ftp://ftp.debian.org/debian/dists/slink/main/disks-i386/current/, or the corresponding directory on any of
Debian mirror sites.
resc1200.bin-- the Rescue Floppy images
If you have a 5.25 inch floppy drive, use the image with
`1200' in the name; otherwise, use the image with `1440' in the name.
You'll also need
root.bin, described below.
The `tecra' images are an alternate kernel for people who have problems with the standard disks.
drv1200.bin-- the Drivers Floppy images
If you used a special Rescue Floppy image, you need to use the corresponding Drivers Floppy image.
base12-9.bin-- the base system images
base2_1.tgzfile is for installation from non-floppy media, i.e., CD-ROM, harddisk, or NFS.
root.bin-- Root image
It is also used in cases where the root filesystem cannot fit on the
Rescue Floppy for whatever reason.
For instance, if booting from 5.25 floppies, you'll need
lowmem.bin-- Low Memory Boot Image
lowmemrd.bin-- Low Memory Root Filesystem Image
lowmem.bindoesn't fit within that disk capacity.
loadlin.exe-- Linux boot loader
linux-- kernel image
install.html-- Installation Manual
md5sumprogram, you can ensure that your files are not corrupt by running md5sum -v -c md5sum.txt.
In some cases, you may wish to boot from an existing operating system. You can also boot into the installation system using other means, but install the base system from disk.
It is possible to install Debian from an already installed DOS partition on the same machine. You have two alternatives: either try the floppy-less installation, or boot from the Rescue Floppy but install base from the local disk.
To try floppyless booting, follow these directions:
install.batfrom that directory in DOS.
If you want to boot from floppies, but install base from a DOS
partition, then simply download and create the Rescue Floppy and
Drivers Floppy as described in Creating Floppies from Disk Images, Section 5.8. Download
base2_1.tgz and place that file somewhere on a DOS
You can install Debian from an ext2fs partition or from a Minix partition. This installation technique may be appropriate if you are completely replacing your current Linux system with Debian, for instance.
Note that the partition you are installing from should not be
the same as the partitions you are installing Debian to
/, /usr, /lib, and all that).
To install from an already existing Linux partition, follow these instructions.
If you have a CD which is bootable, and if your architecture and system supports booting from a CD-ROM, you don't need any floppies. Configure your hardware as indicated in Boot Device Selection, Section 3.3.2. Then put the CD-ROM into the drive, and reboot. If you have a system which requires ``tecra'' boot images, place the second CD-ROM rather than the first one into the drive, and reboot. Now you can skip down to Booting the Installation System, Chapter 6.
If your hardware does not support bootable CD-ROMs, you should boot
into DOS, and execute the
boot.bat file which is located
\boot directory on your CD. Then, skip down to
dbootstrap for Initial System
Configuration, Chapter 7.
Even if you cannot boot from CD-ROM, you can install the base Debian system from CD-ROM. Simply boot using one of the other installation techniques; when it is time to install the base system and any additional packages, just point your installation system at the CD-ROM drive as described in ``Install the Base System'', Section 7.14.
Due to the nature of this method of installation, only the base system
can be installed via NFS. You will need to have the rescue disk and
the driver disk available locally using one of the above methods. To
install the base system via NFS, you'll have to go through the regular
installation as explained in Using
dbootstrap for Initial System
Configuration, Chapter 7. Do not
forget to insert the module (driver) for your ethernet card, and the
file system module for NFS.
dbootstrap asks you where the base system is located
(``Install the Base System'', Section 7.14), you should choose NFS, and follow the
Installation from floppies, if supported on your system, is a nice fallback to have, althought it is generally not the more preferred or the fastest way to install. There are different degrees to which you can install from floppies, which are described below.
To boot from floppies, simply download the Rescue Floppy image and the Drivers Floppy image. In some cases you may be required to decide which flavor of the disk images to use, as discussed in Description of Installation System Files, Section 5.2. Information in that section should help you choose which floppy images to use. Create these floppies from images as described in Creating Floppies from Disk Images, Section 5.8.
If you need to, you can also modify the Rescue Floppy; see Replacing the Rescue Floppy Kernel, Section 9.3.
If your system has less than 5MB of memory, you will
need to boot from a special low-memory boot disk image,
In all, you will need three floppies:
Write the corresponding disk images to floppies as described in Creating Floppies from Disk Images, Section 5.8. If you have only a 5.25 inch floppy drive, use
the Low Memory Root Disk,
lowmemrd.bin, instead of the boot
floppy. Boot from the Rescue Floppy and insert the Low Memory Root
Disk when asked for a root disk.
Otherwise, you will boot from the Low Memory Boot Floppy first, so put that floppy in your primary floppy drive and reboot. Jump down to Booting the Installation System, Chapter 6 for help on booting the system, if needed. Once your kernel comes up, you should automatically be asked to run the special low memory pre-installation steps, as described in Booting Low-Memory Systems, Section 6.3.
NOTE: This is not a recommended way of installing Debian, because floppies are generally the least reliable type of media. This is only recommended if you have no extra, pre-existing filesystems on any of the hard drives on your system.
Complete these steps:
Disk images are files containing the complete contents of a floppy
disk in raw form. Disk images, such as
resc1440.bin, cannot simply be copied to floppy drives.
A special program is used to write the image files to floppy disk in
raw mode. This is required because these images are raw
representations of the disk; it is required to do a sector
copy of the data from the file onto the floppy.
There are different techniques for creating floppies from disk images, which depend on your platform. This section describes how to create floppies from disk images for different platforms.
No matter which method you use to create your floppies, you should remember to flip the tab on the floppies once you have written them, to ensure they are not damaged unintentionally.
To write the floppy disk image files to the floppy disks, you will probably need root access to the system. Place a good, blank floppy in the floppy drive. Next, use the command
dd if=file of=/dev/fd0 bs=512 conv=sync ; sync
where file is one of the floppy disk image
/dev/fd0 is a commonly used name of the floppy disk
device, it may be different on your workstation (on Solaris, it is
/dev/fd/0). The command may return to the prompt before Unix
has finished writing the floppy disk, so look for the disk-in-use
light on the floppy drive and be sure that the light is out and the
disk has stopped revolving before you remove it from the drive. On
some systems, you'll have to run a command to eject the floppy from
the drive (on Solaris, use
eject, see the manual page).
Some systems attempt to automatically mount a floppy disk when you
place it in the drive. You might have to disable this feature before
the workstation will allow you to write a floppy in raw mode.
Unfortunately, how to accomplish this will vary based on your
operating system. On Solaris, make sure
vold isn't running.
On other systems, ask your system administrator.
You'll find the
rawrite2.exe program in the same
directory as the floppy disk images. There's also a
rawrite2.txt file containing instructions for using
To write the floppy disk image files to the floppy disks, first make
sure that you are booted into DOS. Many problems have been reported
when trying to use
rawrite2 from within a DOS box from
within Windows. Double-clicking on
rawrite2 from within
the Windows Explorer is also reported to not work. If you don't know
how to boot into DOS, just hit F8 while booting.
Once you've booted into plain DOS, use the command
rawrite2 -f file -d drive
where file is one of the floppy disk image files, and drive is either `a:' or `b:', depending on which floppy drive you are writing to.
The biggest problem for people installing Debian for the first time seems to be floppy disk reliability.
The Rescue Floppy is the floppy with the worst problems, because it is read by the hardware directly, before Linux boots. Often, the hardware doesn't read as reliably as the Linux floppy disk driver, and may just stop without printing an error message if it reads incorrect data. There can also be failures in the Drivers Floppy and the base floppies, most of which indicate themselves with a flood of messages about disk I/O errors.
If you are having the installation stall at a particular floppy, the first thing you should do is re-download the floppy disk image and write it to a different floppy. Simply reformatting the old floppy may not be sufficient, even if it appears that the floppy was reformatted and written with no errors. It is sometimes useful to try writing the floppy on a different system.
One user reports he had to write the images to floppy three times before one worked, and then everything was fine with the third floppy.
Other users have reported that simply rebooting a few times with the same floppy in the floppy drive can lead to a successful boot. This is all due to buggy hardware or firmware floppy drivers.