This section will help you determine which different media types you can use to install Debian. For example, if you have a floppy disk drive on your machine, it can be used to install Debian. There is a whole chapter devoted media, Chapter 4, Obtaining System Installation Media, which lists the advantages and disadvantages of each media type. You may want to refer back to this page once you reach that section.
Whenever you see “CD-ROM” in this manual, it applies to both CD-ROMs and DVD-ROMs, because both technologies are really the same from the operating system's point of view, except for some very old nonstandard CD-ROM drives which are neither SCSI nor IDE/ATAPI.
CD-ROM based installation is supported for some architectures. On machines which support bootable CD-ROMs, you should be able to do a completely floppy-less installation. Even if your system doesn't support booting from a CD-ROM, you can use the CD-ROM in conjunction with the other techniques to install your system, once you've booted up by other means; see Chapter 5, Booting the Installation System.
On SGI machines, booting from CD-ROM requires a SCSI CD-ROM drive capable of working with a logical blocksize of 512 bytes. Many of the SCSI CD-DROM drives sold for the PC market do not have this capability. If your CD-ROM drive has a jumper labeled “Unix/PC” or “512/2048”, place it in the “Unix” or “512” position. To start the install, simply choose the “System installation” entry in the firmware. The Broadcom BCM91250A supports standard IDE devices, including CD-ROM drives, but CD images for this platform are currently not provided because the firmware doesn't recognize CD drives.
Booting the installation system directly from a hard disk is another option for many architectures. This will require some other operating system to load the installer onto the hard disk.
You can also boot your system over the network. This is the preferred installation technique for Mips.
Diskless installation, using network booting from a local area network and NFS-mounting of all local filesystems, is another option.
After the operating system kernel is installed, you can install the rest of your system via any sort of network connection (including PPP after installation of the base system), via FTP or HTTP.
If you are running another Unix-like system, you could use it to install
Debian GNU/Linux without using the
debian-installer described in the rest of the
manual. This kind of install may be useful for users with otherwise
unsupported hardware or on hosts which can't afford downtime. If you
are interested in this technique, skip to the Section C.4, “Installing Debian GNU/Linux from a Unix/Linux System”.
The Debian boot disks contain a kernel which is built to maximize the number of systems it runs on. Unfortunately, this makes for a larger kernel, which includes many drivers that won't be used for your machine (see Section 8.4, “Compiling a New Kernel” to learn how to build your own kernel). Support for the widest possible range of devices is desirable in general, to ensure that Debian can be installed on the widest array of hardware.
Any storage system supported by the Linux kernel is also supported by the boot system.