Installing Debian 4 on a PC will prove to pretty straight forward and simple. This is an online user’s guide, providing assistance with basic installation, configuration and setup of a Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 (etch) on a PC.

Before you begin, please understand this guide has to assume you have a fundamental skill set in Computer Use, Linux/Unix Operating Systems, Command Line/Shell Utilities and a basic understanding of the differences between operating systems (I.E. Windows, Apple/Macintosh, DOS, Unix/Linux and others!) and some hardware understanding.

Even if you are well educated in the areas from above, we highly recommended you read this ENTIRE guide before performing any of the steps on your system. As you read through the first time, create a list of questions or concerns you will need to be addressed, before starting work on your own system. Do not start installation or setup on your own system until you have addressed all the questions and/or concerns you have on your list.

Next, you will need to verify the computer you are going to use has hardware which is compatible with Debian GNU/Linux. You can get a better idea of hardware compatibility by reading the “Linux Hardware Compatibility HOW-TO” by Steven Pritchard. The HOW-TO is found at

There are a couple of things you will want to have available to you during the steps you are about to follow. Your Debian GNU/Linux machine may need an available internet connection. It is best to make sure an “ALWAYS ON” and/or “HIGH-SPEED” internet connection is available and capable of working with the system you are about to modify, before starting. You may also want a second machine with an active internet connection so that you can reference this article or other websites as you got through these steps.

At the time this guide was put together, the steps in our guide were verified multiple times on the “STABLE” release of Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 (etch) w/ KDE 3.5.5 GUI. Current Document Version: 1.0.0.alpha (Document Version) Now, to the grindstone!

  1. Download the KDE ISO package to your desktop from (This will take some time, so start this when you have other things you can be doing.) For this guide I use the Debian GNU/Linux KDE image.
  2. Burn the Debian KDE ISO to a CD/DVD. (I’m not going to cover the steps to burn an .ISO to a CD/DVD at this time. Realistically, if you don’t know how to do this already, you may want to re-evaluate your computer abilities as it relates to using linux.)
  3. Insert the new BOOTABLE Debian KDE installation disk into the system you are going to be converting to a Debian Server.
  4. Configure your BIOS to boot from CD (Some newer PCs will give you the option to hit F12 for a boot menu. From here you can choose to boot to IDE/SCSI/USB CD/DVD-ROM.) Once you have successfully booted to the Debian installation Disk, you will start to see onscreen prompts which you will need to follow. The first one says “Press [enter] to boot into Debian Setup” so you will need to start there!
  5. Once the Debian Setup has loaded, you will simply select the configuration options as you are asked for them. Select the answers that apply to you. You will be prompted in the following order…
    1. Configuration:
      Language: English
    2. Configuration:
      Territory: United States
    3. Configuration:
      Keymap to use: American English
    4. Configuration:
      Primary Network Interface: Eth1:BroadcomCorp...
      Make sure you select a Network Interface card which is able to be used on the network. Many times a WiFi card may be selected by default, but can’t be used without some additional configuration. I do not recommend selecting a WiFi card for the initial installation!
    5. Configuration:
      Hostname: MyDebianPC
      This is what Micro$oft Windoz users would call the computer name.
    6. Configuration:
      Domain Name:
      If you are using your system on a domain, you will need to enter the domain name here. If you don’t have a domain, enter a fake one followed by .com/.net/.org or etc.
    7. Configuration:
      Partitioning Method: Guided-use entire disk
    8. Configuration:
      Select Disk to Partition: IDE master (hda) - 80.0 GB hitachi...
      Make sure you select the drive you want Debian installed on. The disk you choose will be wiped clean and the data on that disk will be lost.
    9. Configuration:
      Partitioning Scheme: All files in one partition
    10. Configuration:
      Write Changes to Partition: yes
    11. Configuration:
      Finish partitioning and write changes to disk:
    12. Configuration:
      Write the changes to disk: yes
    13. Configuration:
      Select your timezone: Central
    14. Configuration:
      Root Password:
      Enter a password for the su (super user) account.
    15. Configuration:
      Confirm Root Password:
      Re-enter the same password you entered for the su (super user) account.
    16. Configuration:
      Full name for new user: Full Name
      Enter the name you wish to use on your system.
    17. Configuration:
      Username for new user: Username
      Enter the username you wish to use on your system.
    18. Configuration:
      password for user account:
      Enter a password for the new user.
    19. Configuration:
      Confirm user password:
      Re-enter the same password you entered for the new user.
    20. Configuration:
      Use network mirror: yes
      Using a network mirror will download all the latest and most up to date software packages. You must have a correctly configured Network Interface for this to work. (You can skip this if it doesn’t work, and do it later!)
    21. Configuration:
      Debian archive mirror country: US
      It is a good practice to select the country your system will be used in.
    22. Configuration:
      Debian archive mirror:
      It is a good practice to select a mirror as close to you as possible, although this doesn’t always ensure the fastest connection or download speed.
    23. Configuration:
      Most people will leave this blank. Only you will know if you need to use a proxy. If you do, you will enter the proxy settings here.
    24. Configuration:
      Participate in package usage survey: yes
      I always recommend that you participate in the Debian package usage survey. This survey only sends information related to your computer’s hardware and the packages you download, to the Debian Developer Base, to aid in future development. This helps make Debian better. The survey does not send identifiable personal information to Debian.
      After this selection, all the selections you have made to this point will be applied and the software packages will be installed. This may take some time, so don’t be alarmed.
    25. Configuration:
      Install the Grub boot loader: yes
      If Debian is the only OS (Operating System) you will be using on this machine, at one time, you will select to Install the Grub boot loader. If you are running multiple Operating Systems on this machine, you will have to do some additional configuration here, not supported by this particular user guide.
      The installation will now complete. This can take a little while as well. When it is finished you will be prompted to…
    26. Configuration:
      un-mount/eject cd
      At this time your CD/DVD Drive should open, allowing you to remove the CD. Then you will select the option to reboot your machine.

Congratulations, you have completed the Debian Installation/Setup Process. You can now begin using Debian. Are you ready to use it for the first time?

First Time Logging in to Debian

At this point, we just need to verify that your system is usable and works correctly. This section will walk you through logging in as the “$USER” you created when installing Debian GNU/Linux to your system.

  1. At the Debian/GNU w/ KDE Welcome Screen, (this point forward identified as the “Welcome Screen”) log in to the GUI. To identify the “Welcome” Screen, you should see a screen displayed in shades of blue. In the middle of the screen you should see a box which states “Welcome to $HOSTNAME” with a place to type in the Username and Password. This is what you will be using to access the GUI [Graphical User Interface], similar to logging into Windows with a Username and Password. (You should also see the date displayed in the lower right-hand corner of this screen, along with “Session Type” and a “Menu” in the lower left-hand corner of the screen.)
  2. Type in the Username of the personal user you created when setting up your Debian system “$USER”.
  3. Type in the Password of the “$USER” and hit the [enter] key.
  4. At this point the KPersonalizer will launch. The default settings are ok, so just hit the enter key to advance. (You will hit this key 5 times. Wait on the next screen before you hit the key each additional time.)
  5. Once the KPersonalizer has closed you will see the Useful Tips – KTip Screen. Again, just hit the CLOSE button.
  6. Hit the “K” menu button in the lower left-hand corner. (Similar to the Windows START Menu, but with a lot of items you will most likely not recognize.)
  7. Select the “Run Command” option from the “K” menu. This will launch a command screen, with a box for you to type a Command to be run.
  8. In that box type: “konsole” and hit the [enter] key. This will launch a Debian/GNU w/ KDE “Shell – Konsole” session. You should see a curser on command line/text interface waiting at the command prompt ($USER@HOSTNAME:~$ ) for your input.
  9. With your mouse, left click once inside that program, to activate that window.
  10. Then type: “exit” and hit the [enter] key. This will close the “Shell – Konsole” session.
  11. Next, Hit the “K” menu button in the lower left-hand corner.
  12. Select the “Log Out” option. You will get a screen titled; End Session for “$USER” and you will select the “End Current Session” option. This will take you back to the Debian/GNU w/ KDE Welcome Screen.

This is a “BEST EFFORT” document in that those involved in writing it have done the very best to update and maintain this document for accuracy and ease of use. However, because of all the variations and flavors of Linux/Unix we do not guarantee these steps for anyone or on any system.

UPDATE: This post is old and has been modified for use in new WordPress Theme Designs. In some cases, Categories, Tags and/or the actual Content has been modified. Content found in this post may be dated and irrelevant and should be used with caution. This post may be original to this site or may have come from one of many other WordPress-powered websites I’ve run since 2008. All previous websites have been shuttered; though new ones may pop up in the future.