Install Process - Linux

Booting from DVD

Boot from the Debian DVD (or CD-ROM). My DVD had the source on one side and the binaries on the other. Note that the side that says source has the source on that side. Hence, you want this side facing upwards.

You are given several different boot methods. I chose to use bf24. I wanted a 2.4.x kernel, and I also wanted support for ext3. Using the normal linux option will not allow you to format the Linux partition as ext3. Caveat: If you boot up only using the kernel image name, then you will not get to see everything - some stuff is off the bottom of the screen. You need to specify an value for the vga device. I'm not sure why this is the case but I found a value that worked and have stuck with it - a Linux expert might be able to tell you more. Hence, you should type bf24 vga=0x300 at the boot prompt.

Debian Installation Program

Step through the installation stages. If anything appears of the bottom of the screen, then either you didn't provide the 0x300 value for vga, or your machine is different to mine. The following sections will pick out points of interest, where the choice you take might not be a chicken peck (just choosing from a menu and hitting return).

Swap Partition

A swap partition should almost certainly be created, 256MB isn't enough to be sure that you won't run out. The swap parition should be created on /dev/hda (but this should be the only option offered). You don't need to worry about any LILO limitations or ResierFS space requirements.

You are presented with a curses based fdisk. Yes, you can truly knacker your partitions with this program, but that's unlikely if you carefully consider everything you're doing.

cfdisk is currently showing you that you have two partitions, an NTFS one, and a FAT32 one. It is also showing you that you have some free space. Move the highlight bar down to the free space, and select New. Make a primary partition 128Mb large at the beginning of the free space. Make sure that the type of this partition is 0x82 (Linux Swap). It is intially listed as Linux in the display, but changing the type brings up 0x82 automatically.

Once you have created the partition, go on to Write it. This will update the entries on the hard disk. Make sure that you do not alter the Windows settings. You can then quit cfdisk.

Root Partition

The main, root partition is created in a similar way to the swap. However, it should take up the remainder of the disk, and should have type 0x83 for Linux. I personally wanted ext3, so that is how I had it initialized after the partition was created.

Kernel Modules

At this stage, I selected nothing extra. I will be compiling a Kernel at a later stage, and the basic kernel provided by Debian has more than enough stuff in it.

Make System Bootable

Install LILO into the MBR. This is going to be replaced by GRUB shortly so it is only a temporary measure. There is no need to make a boot floppy at this stage. The Debian DVD can always be used as an emergency rescue disk should it ever be needed. Put all of the partitions into the menu.


Now, once you reboot, you should find that LILO gives you some options. We want the Linux option, but don't forget that we need to provide a value for vga, so type Linux vga=768 at the prompt. LILO doesn't understand hex values, so we need to use decimal. Once the system has rebooted, step through the choices.

Tasksel and dselect

I choose not to run either of these tools at this stage. This means that you get a very, very basic system up and running very quickly.

Base Package Configuration

By default, exim will be installed. I opted for option 5, to configure it later.