How to Install Debian 11 from Scratch on PC using a USB Flash Drive
The Debian distribution is the result of an attempt by Ian Murdock in 1993 to encourage software developers to contribute their ideas on issues related to the separation and distribution of free software from nonfree software.
Known as the original distribution of Linux, Debian also has thousands of developers worldwide. Developed almost flawlessly, this distribution also pioneered new distributions such as Ubuntu.
You can start experiencing the Debian operating system by installing it on your host computer or a virtual machine. However, we recommend that users with basic knowledge use this distribution in a VM first. Users who develop themselves above the average can install this distribution on their personal computers.
When you compare Windows and Linux distributions, you can see that there is a big difference in performance between them. Since Linux uses fewer hardware resources, it may be preferred in terms of performance, but you may not be able to install some of your frequently used Windows software.
In order to build the Debian Linux system on a PC, you need to download the ISO image file according to your processor architecture from the official website. To prepare the installation media, you can burn the ISO file to a CD/DVD media or burn it to your flash drive using a 3rd party program such as Rufus.
How to Download the Debian ISO File
You can download Debian installation media from different platforms, but downloading it from the official website is important for file reliability. That’s why we recommend downloading images of Debian or other Linux distributions from their official community websites.
To download the Full Debian AMD64 (64 Bit) ISO image for your PC with 64 Bit architecture, visit the website https://www.debian.org/ and click the Download button under THE OPERATING SYSTEM title.
For 64 Bit PCs, you can download the ISO file, which does not include software or packages, directly from this website.
However, if you plan to install this distribution on computers in locations with a slow Internet connection or no infrastructure, we recommend that you download the Complete ISO image, which includes all software and packages.
Click the Getting Debian link under the Other Installers title to download the installation media for systems without an internet connection.
Click the Complete Installation Image link on the Getting Debian website.
Click the Download CD/DVD Images using HTTP link to get the image file using a web browser.
You can download both CD and DVD installation media on the Official CD/DVD Images of The “Stable” Release website. You need to download the appropriate image file according to a CD or DVD writer hardware type on your computer.
Click on the amd64 link for your 64 Bit PC from the options listed in the DVD title.
Scroll down the ISO DVD website a little bit and click on the link debian-11.3.0-am64-DVD-1-iso and download the file to your computer.
How to Create a Bootable USB Installation Media with Rufus
After you download Debian DVD media to your disk, you can burn it to a blank DVD with the Nero program. But in our article, we will use the Rufus program, since we will prepare a bootable flash memory.
To download the Rufus program, visit https://rufus.ie/ and download the Portable or Setup file to your computer.
Plug a USB flash drive into your computer and run Rufus. Select the downloaded ISO file by clicking the SELECT button from the Rufus driver options.
After checking the ISO file name and Partition Scheme settings in the Boot Selection section, click START to start the burning process.
Check ISO Image Mode in the options for burning the image file and click OK. Rufus software needs a Syslinux file because you prepared Linux installation media. If a new version of this file is available, click Yes to download it.
Finally, click OK again to delete all the data in the contents of the USB disk you inserted into your PC and start copying the system files.
After the Debian system files have been copied and prepared to your flash disk, close Rufus.
How to Set Up Debian Linux Step by Step
After preparing the USB media, you need to insert it into one of the empty USB ports of your computer and boot your system from your flash memory.
Opening the boot menu may differ depending on the brand and model of the computer you are using. So check your PC’s manufacturer website or user manual.
To boot a PC with a USB stick, you can usually do this from the BIOS or the Boot Menu. However, you can try one of the F2, F8, F10, F11, or ESC keys from your keyboard while restarting your PC.
After accessing the boot menu of your computer, boot your system with your USB by pressing Enter on the name of your flash memory or Removable Devices options.
When the Debian GNU/Linux Installer Menu opens, that is, when you boot your PC with a flash disk, press Enter in the Graphical Install option.
To set the default system language that you want to use during the installation process, select your language in the Select a language window and click Continue.
The location you select in the Select your location window will be used both for your system time and to help you based on your location. It will be more advantageous to choose this location as the country you live in.
For your Debian system, choose a compatible layout according to your computer’s keyboard layout.
If there are other computers on your current network, type a hostname different from other devices. The hostname selected by default is Debian, but you can change this name as you wish.
If your network has a mail server or active directory, type an appropriate domain name depending on your structure. If you don’t have it, you can leave this option blank and continue with the installation.
System administrators need a root account to make more advanced settings on the Debian system. Therefore, create a strong password for your root account that will be created during installation.
Type the full name of the user account to be created instead of the root account required for non-administrative operations.
Type your username in lowercase letters for your new account and continue.
Create a strong password for your newly created user account.
Select an appropriate time zone for your system clock according to your location.
Since we will install a clean Linux system on your computer from scratch, choose Guided – Use Entire Disk for the basic level at this stage and continue.
Select your SATA or NVMe physical disk to be partitioned.
Select the All Files In One Partition option recommended for new users.
Review the Debian disk configuration and click Continue to complete the partition process.
After checking the partition table, select Yes to confirm writing the changes to the disk.
Select Yes if you want other additional media to be scanned in Package Manager edit because you downloaded the full ISO image, or No if you don’t.
If one of the software you will install on your system is not included in the existing ISO media, you may need to use a network mirror. Therefore, select Yes to add a network mirror to the package manager.
You can download packages faster by selecting the archive country closest to your network. Therefore, select the country you live in as the archive source.
Select deb.debian.org as the source for the Debian archive mirror, which is usually a good choice.
If you are using a proxy server in your network environment, you can type your address in the relevant field. If you do not want to use a proxy server while accessing the Internet, leave this field blank.
You can choose to support the better development of the system by sending the logs of the errors you encounter on your system or the hardware and other information of your PC you use to the Debian distribution developers.
However, if you prefer to research the Package Usage Survey feature further and participate later, select No and continue.
Up to this point, only the core of the Debian system has been installed. That is, you can use your computer through the console, but it will not be a desktop environment.
If you prefer to use the predefined default Debian desktop environment, select GNOME or one of the other environments in the Software Selection window and click Continue.
If the new system you installed on your computer is a single system, it will be safe to install the GRUB Boot Loader on the primary partition.
To make your newly installed system bootable, select the disk you want to install the GRUB menu.
After installing your new system on your computer, remove the installation media and restart your system.
As your computer restarts, you will see the GNU GRUB menu. Here you can start your system directly by pressing Enter in Debian GNU/Linux option.
Since you will be logging into your system with the user account you created instead of the root account, type your password and press Enter.
After logging into your Debian system, you will be greeted with the GNOME desktop environment.
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