March 25, 2019

DistributionWatch Review: Debian GNU/Linux 2.1 - page 8

Introducing Debian GNU/Linux

  • December 22, 1999
  • By Ed Petron

Links to complete installation instructions for Debian 2.1 are available at Debian 2.1 Release Information page. Both release notes and installation instructions are available for all architectures in a variety of document formats and languages. I won't rehash all that here, but I will make a few general comments.

Like most distributions, installing Debian involves several steps:

  • booting the installation system
  • initial system configuration
  • installing the base system
  • booting the newly installed base system
  • installing the rest of the system

If the system hardware supports it, booting of the installation system, initial configuration and installation of the base system can all be accomplished using a CDROM. Some systems may need to boot the installation system from a rescue floppy or from a boot loader running in another operating system.

Once the installation system is booted, the dbootstrap program will guide the user through the initial configuration. After this is completed, dbootstrap will perform the installation of the base system. The base packages can be installed from hard disk, CDROM, NFS or floppy disks.

After booting from the newly installed base system, the rest of the system is installed. This involves installing and configuring the packages the user needs. This can be done through individual selection and installation of packages or through the use of tasks and profiles. A task is a type of work for which the machine will be used, such as "HTML authoring" or "Perl programming." A profile would be a machine classification like "Network server" or "Personal workstation." The user can select multiple tasks but only one profile. The selection of a profile and tasks results in the installation of an assortment of packages. After that, the user can customize his or her installation by adding and/or deleting packages as desired.

The installation process described here may be longer and more complex than with other distributions. It's been years since I've installed Slackware and I've only done one Red Hat installation on a friend's machine, but this is my impression: it offers a greater selection of options and enables upgrades that are much smoother than with other distributions.

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