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 squeeze 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 lenny, please check the release announcements for the squeeze beta and RC releases available from the Debian Installer's news history.

3.1.1. Major changes

Dropped platforms

Support for the Alpha ('alpha'), ARM ('arm') and HP PA-RISC ('hppa') architectures has been dropped from the installer. The 'arm' architecture is obsoleted by the ARM EABI ('armel') port.

Support for kFreeBSD

The installer can be used to install the kFreeBSD instead of the Linux kernel and test the technology preview. To use this feature the appropriate installation image (or CD/DVD set) has to be used.

GRUB 2 is the default bootloader

The bootloader that will be installed by default is grub-pc (GRUB 2).

Help during the installation process

The dialogs presented during the installation process now provide help information. Although not currently used in all dialogs, this feature would be increasingly used in future releases. This will improve the user experience during the installation process, especially for new users.

Installation of Recommended packages

The installation system will install all recommended packages by default throughout the process except for some specific situations in which the general setting gives undesired results.

Automatic installation of hardware-specific packages

The system will automatically select for installation hardware-specific packages when they are appropriate. This is achieved through the use of discover-pkginstall from the discover package.

Support for installation of previous releases

The installation system can be also used for the installation of previous release, such as lenny.

Improved mirror selection

The installation system provides better support for installing both squeeze as well as lenny and older releases (through the use of In addition, it will also check that the selected mirror is consistent and holds the selected release.

Changes in partitioning features

This release of the installer supports the use of the ext4 file system and it also simplifies the creation of RAID, LVM and crypto protected partitioning systems. Support for the reiserfs file system is no longer included by default, although it can be optionally loaded.

Support for loading firmware debs during installation

It is now possible to load firmware package files from the installation media in addition to removable media, allowing the creation of PXE images and CDs/DVDs with included firmware packages.

Starting with Debian 6.0, non-free firmware has been moved out of main. To install Debian on hardware that needs non-free firmware, you can either provide the firmware yourself during installation or use pre-made non-free CDs/DVDs which include the firmware. See the Getting Debian section on the Debian website for more information.

New languages

Thanks to the huge efforts of translators, Debian GNU/Linux can now be installed in 70 languages. This is seven more languages than in lenny. Most languages are available in both the text-based installation user interface and the graphical user interface, while some are only available in the graphical user interface.

Languages added in this release include:

  • Asturian, Estonian, Icelandic, Kazakh and Persian have been added to the graphical and text-based installer.

  • Kannada, Lao, Sinhala and Telugu have been added to the graphical installer.

  • Thai, previously available only in the graphical user interface, is now available also in the text-based installation user interface too.

Due to the lack of translation updates two languages were dropped in this release: Wolof and Welsh.

Improved localisation selection

The selection of localisation-related values (language, location and locale settings) is now less interdependent and more flexible. Users will be able to customize the system to their localisation needs more easily while still make it comfortable to use for users that want to select the locale most common for the country they reside in.

Additionally, the consequences of localisation choices (such as timezone, keymap and mirror selection) are now more obvious to the user.

Live system installation

The installer now supports live systems in two ways. First, an installer included on live system media can use the contents of the live system in place of the regular installation of the base system. Second, the installer may now be launched while running the live system, allowing the user to do other things with the live system during the install. Both features are built into the Debian Live images offered at

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 lenny 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.