Chapter 3. Installation System

Table of Contents

3.1. What's new in the installation system?
3.1.1. Major changes
3.1.2. Automated installation

The Debian Installer is the official installation system for Debian. It offers a variety of installation methods. Which methods are available to install your system depends on your architecture.

Images of the installer for lenny can be found together with the Installation Guide on the Debian website.

The Installation Guide is also included on the first CD/DVD of the official Debian CD/DVD sets, at:


You may also want to check the errata for debian-installer for a list of known issues.

3.1. What's new in the installation system?

There has been a lot of development on the Debian Installer since its first official release with Debian GNU/Linux 3.1 (sarge) resulting in both improved hardware support and some exciting new features.

In these Release Notes we'll only list the major changes in the installer. If you are interested in an overview of the detailed changes since etch, please check the release announcements for the lenny beta and RC releases available from the Debian Installer's news history.

3.1.1. Major changes

Support for loading firmware during installation

It is now possible to load firmware binary files from removable media when they're provided externally to Debian installation media.

Support for installation from Microsoft Windows

The installation media are now provided with an application that allows preparing the system to install Debian from Microsoft Windows environments.

SATA RAID support

Early upgrade of packages with security fixes

When used with functional network access, the installer will upgrade all packages that have been updated since the initial release of lenny. This upgrade happens during the installation step, before the installed system is booted.

As a consequence, the installed system is less likely to be vulnerable to security issues that were discovered and fixed between the release time of lenny and the installation time.

Support for volatile

The installer can now optionally set up the installed system to use updated packages from This archive hosts packages providing data that needs to be regularly updated over time, such as timezones definitions, anti-virus signature files, etc.

New boot menu for Intel x86 and AMD64

An interactive boot menu was added to make the choice of specific options and boot methods more intuitive for users.

New ports

The armel architecture is now supported. Images for i386 Xen guests are also provided.

Support for hardware speech synthesis devices

Several devices designed to provide hardware speech synthesis are now supported by the installer, therefore improving its accessibility for visually-impaired users.

Support for relatime mount options

The installer can now set up partitions with the relatime mount option, so that access time on files and directories is updated only if the previous access time was earlier than the current modify or change time.

NTP clock synchronization at installation time

The computer clock is now synchronized with NTP servers over the network during installation so that the installed system immediately has an accurate clock.

New languages

Thanks to the huge efforts of translators, Debian can now be installed in 63 languages (50 using the text-based installation user interface and 13 supported only with the graphical user interface). This is five languages more than in etch. Languages added in this release include Amharic, Marathi, Irish, Northern Sami, and Serbian. Due to lack of translation updates, one language has been dropped in this release: Estonian. Another language that was disabled in etch has been reactivated: Welsh.

The languages that can only be selected using the graphical installer as their character sets cannot be presented in a non-graphical environment are: Amharic, Bengali, Dzongkha, Gujarati, Hindi, Georgian, Khmer, Malayalam, Marathi, Nepali, Punjabi, Tamil, and Thai.

Simplified country choice

The country choice list is now grouped by continents, allowing an easier selection of country, when users don't want to pick the ones associated with the chosen language.

3.1.2. Automated installation

Some changes mentioned in the previous section also imply changes in the support in the installer for automated installation using preconfiguration files. This means that if you have existing preconfiguration files that worked with the etch installer, you cannot expect these to work with the new installer without modification.

The Installation Guide has an updated separate appendix with extensive documentation on using preconfiguration.