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Update: recent netinst images also included the 686 flavor of the kernel. Update: recent netinst images also include the 686 flavor of the kernel.



Before attempting an installation or reporting a problem, remember to check the [http://www.debian.org/devel/debian-installer/errata errata] page to see if your problem is already well known.

If you are experiencing problems with an older version of the installer, please try a more recent version from the [http://www.debian.org/devel/debian-installer/ Debian-Installer home page], as your problem might already be solved.

Please don't edit this page to ask new questions here! This page is only for frequently asked questions. Please do edit this page to add questions that you know are frequently asked, or to improve the answers.

Q: Why does DebianInstaller always use DHCP? I want a static address!

A: There are currently two different ways of configuring a static IP setup:

  1. Run in normal mode and wait when the DHCP step is performed, if it fails you are given the option of configuring a static setup. You can also cancel the dhcp probe using recent versions of the installer.
  2. Boot the installer in expert mode ("boot: expert"), and you will be able to configure a static address, and many other things besides. (Press F2 in boot screen for more information.)

Besides you may set your dhcpd to serve a fixed address to your chosen network card (identified by its mac).

Q: But DHCP shouldn't run automatically, it breaks on my system/gets the wrong information/is not what I want.

A: DebianInstaller is targeting a larger base of users than have historically installed Debian, including users who don't know what DHCP or static IP addresses are. Thus default behavior is chosen to use DHCP.

You can force static network configuration by providing boot parameter netcfg/disable_dhcp=true at the boot prompt. (Press F7 in boot screen for more information.)

Q: Why are you doing this? Why not use Anaconda/PGI/whatever? Why reinvent the wheel?

A: We're doing this because it's time. Debian has been burdened with a sub-par installer for a full decade, and it's time to change all that. Debian's installer needs to work on more platforms and more types of install media than any other. We need to support installs to S/390 mainframes that have only a teletype console. We need to support installs to m68k boxes that boot from floppies, as well as to netbooting Sun hardware.

And yes, we want to support flashy and easy installs on Intel clones booting from CD (and USB sticks). And many more. All the currently targeted installation methods are listed [http://www.debian.org/devel/debian-installer/ports-status here].

Also installs for experienced users with higher control using the same installer are a must.

PGI can't do this. Anaconda can't do this. Only a system designed from the ground up to be completely modular and highly flexible can do so. DebianInstaller is that installer.

Q: Is the DebianInstaller going to be graphical in nature? / Is there any prebuilt/downloadable graphical DebianInstaller?

A: The DebianInstaller is not graphical by nature, but modularity is a key in its design and allows the use of different kinds of frontends, including a graphical one.

Sarge didn't ship with any kind of graphical installer because, at the moment of its release, its developement was still in early stages but actually a GTK+ based graphical frontend is being actively developed and instalation ISOs are already available for testing ( see ["DebianInstaller/GUI"] ).

For Etch, using a graphical version of the installer will be optional for i386 and amd64. For most installation images you can start the graphical installer by booting with installgui. For powerpc the graphical installer will only be available as a separate, experimental image. See the Installation Guide for further information.

Q: Will the DebianInstaller support creating and installing to software RAID devices?

A: The installer supports software RAID 0, 1, and 5. Note that if you use RAID for /boot, you will be forced to use lilo since grub doesn't support RAID. ([http://bugs.debian.org/251905 #251905]).

[http://linux.yyz.us/sata/faq-sata-raid.html SATA RAID] chipsets or PCI/PCIe-card with software RAID are currently not supported by the installer, or not completely. See also dmraid [http://lists.debian.org/debian-boot/2005/11/msg00297.html 1] [http://packages.debian.org/dmraid 2].

If you do not need to dual boot to MS Windows installed on such a RAID system, please use the DebianInstaller default (software) RAID manager ([http://packages.debian.org/mdadm mdadm]) as listed above: it is far better tested and seems equally fast.

Q: How do I install using LVM? Is there any more information about using the LVM installer? LVM installation doesn't work!

A: LVM is fairly straightforward to configure using the menu item in the partitioner titled "Configure the Logical Volume Manager". Please note that it will probably help a lot if you know some [http://www.tldp.org/HOWTO/LVM-HOWTO/ LVM terminology] - it's recommended that you know the following three concepts: volume group (VG), physical volume (PV) and logical volume (LV) and how these relate to each other.

You can even build an LVM on top of a RAID device even for root. Nevertheless Grub has still some troubles ([http://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=251905 #251905]).

Recent versions of the installer can also set up LVM as part of the guided partitioning process.

Q: Is installation on SATA harddrives supported by DebianInstaller?

A: The Sarge version of the installer has very limited support for SATA. The versions available for Etch use more recent kernels that have very much improved SATA support. So if you don't really need Sarge your best option is to use the Etch version of the installer and install Etch.

If you do really want to install Sarge, there are four options for SATA users:

  1. You can try the 2.4.27 kernel which is default in the Sarge installer. This kernel includes some support for SATA.
  2. Install using the Linux 2.6 kernel which should somewhat have better support for your SATA hardware (boot the installer with "linux26").
  3. See if you can change your SATA settings in the BIOS from something like "Native mode" to "Compatibility mode" (might be labeled differently)
  4. Use an unofficial version of the Sarge installer that uses a backported more recent kernel, like the one created by Kenshi Muto available from DebianInstaller/CustomImages.

For a list of supported chipsets and their status of support you may want to be assisted by [http://www.linuxmafia.com/faq/Hardware/sata.html]

If you have a Gigabyte GA-["K8NS"] Pro or similar mainboard, you may want to take a look at [http://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=281843 #281843] (for i386 installation) or [http://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=281839 #281839] (for ["AMD64"] installation).

Q: DebianInstaller does not include a driver for my xyz network card, but I have (tarball) driver sources. What are the steps for building that driver?

A: It's possible to do this, but we do not yet have good end-user docs explaining how to do so. We're waiting for an end user to accomplish it and write them from experience. We're glad to help you through the process when you mail us at debian-boot@lists.debian.org (do not forget to add lspci -v output).

See also DebianInstaller/NetInstWithThirdPartyNetworkDriver for a lengthy manual procedure of re-packaging netinst with a regular Debian kernel and the third party driver compiled against it. That procedure should give way to the install-time compilation of the driver against the installer's and the target kernels, a la module-assistant.

Q: Will there be support for Linux 2.6 kernels?

A: For the Sarge version of the installer, boot with "linux26". Note that 2.6 is the default for amd64 and powerpc installs, is not yet available for all architectures, and is not available when booting i386 from floppies.

For Etch, 2.6 is the only supported kernel version for all architectures.

Q: How to install with boot floppies + netinst.iso mounted as a loop device in the ramdisk from a ext2 partition?

A: You can boot the installer directly from a hard disk using LILO or GRUB, and the hd-media initrd will find your netinst.iso. See the ["InstallationHOWTO"] for details

Q: How can I create boot iso with my own set of packages?

A: see ["DebianInstaller/Modify"]

Q: How can I build the DebianInstaller?

A: see ["DebianInstaller/Build"]

Q: Why do I have to choose twice which mirror to use (at installation and later when base-config is performed)?

A: This is fixed in the Etch version of the installer, which remove the second stage of the installation process entirely.

Q: Why doesn't the installer automatically choose the appropriate kernel to install (for example an i686 kernel instead of the generic i386)?

A: The netinst CD image includes only the generic i386 kernel, so if you're using that you will always have install the proper kernel for your system manually after the installation if you want an optimized version. Including all the kernels on the netinst CD would use too much space.

If using any other installation method than the netinst CD you should get a kernel installed that is optimized for your hardware.

Update: recent netinst images also include the 686 flavor of the kernel.

Q: What about SMP support?

A: The installer itself does not need any SMP support and will not boot with an SMP enabled kernel since it merely needs to install the system to your machine.

When the system is being installed, it would be nice if SMP was automatically detected and the appropriate kernel was chosen though (which would mean that SMP was enabled when you boot into your newly installed Debian system). The installer attempts to do this. If it fails to notice that it needs a SMP kernel on your machine, please file a detailed installation report.

For Etch, some architectures (including i386 and amd64) will automatically detect if more than one processor is present and enable SMP as needed ("SMP-alternatives").

Q: Why isn't the installed system configured to use the language I chose during installation?

A: This problem has been fixed, so if you see it using any current image, please let us know.

Q: Why isn't X configured to use the keyboard I chose during installation?

A: This is a known problem, to check if it has been fixed or to track its progress, see bug report [http://bugs.debian.org/238778 238778].

Q: When I run the DebianInstaller, my keyboard doesn't work!

A: This seems to be especially common on laptops. Try booting with no APIC and no local APIC support ("boot: linux noapic nolapic").

Q: Why isn't my NIC supported by DebianInstaller, I know the "tg3" driver supports it!

A: As tg3 contains firmware which does not seem to meet the requirements of DFSG (the Debian Free Software Guidelines), a decision was made to remove the driver from debian packaged kernels (more information [http://lists.debian.org/debian-devel/2004/04/msg00405.html here] and [http://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=239952 here]). Now this has mostly been resolved with a version of the driver that does not contain such firmware and should work with most cards. You should not have problems with the latest version of the installer.

Q: There seem to be errors reading the CD!

A: First of all, check that the ["MD5"]-sum of the ISO file you downloaded is correct; the md5sum for each of the ["ISOs"] is available in the same directory as the ISO download. After booting the installer you can also check the CD-ROM: use the <go back> button to back up to the main menu and select the option to check the CD-ROM's integrity.

If you are positive that the CD is correct, it could be that the CD-ROM is old and/or flaky when using DMA. You can try disabling DMA for the CD-ROM (by booting with "linux ide=nodma"); unfortunately this boot option is currently broken (see bug [http://bugs.debian.org/226057 226057]).

You can also disable DMA using the following procedure.

  • switch to VT2 (using alt-F2)
  • cd /proc/ide/hdX (X varies depending on where your CD drive is connected)

  • cat settings

  • check the current setting for using_dma
  • change it using the command echo "using_dma:0" >settings (or ":1")

  • switch back to VT1 (using alt-F1)

A tightly folded IDE cable can also cause read errors, try repositioning the cable.

Q: How can I install sid (unstable) with DebianInstaller?

A: Start an installation in expert mode. Before||||After choosing the mirror you will be asked which distribution to install: stable, testing or unstable. We recommend using a daily build of the installer to install testing or unstable.

You cannot install sid from a netinst or full CD, only etch. Use the netboot installation method, a businesscard CD image, or floppy images (with the net-driver floppies).

Q: How do I copy d-i logfiles to a remote host?

A: Use the included mini web server. This method requires a newer version of the installer than shipped with sarge, but it is the easiest way.

  1. Get to the main menu and choose the "Save debug logs" menu item.
  2. Tell it to start up the web server, and follow the prompts to download the logs from the web server to your other computer. If your other computer runs a version of debian after sarge, you can also use "apt-get install installation-report reportbug; reportbug installation-report" and follow the prompts to let it download the log files for you and produce a nice installation report.

Q: How do I use netinst over ppp(oe)?

A: You can't use PPP or PPPoE with the businesscard CD-ROM image! That's because these packages are not included in it. With the netinst CD-ROM image, or a full CD or DVD, you can set up PPP or PPPoE after the system is installed.

PPP configuration is provided by pppconfig. Be aware that so called winmodems are not supported yet!

["PPPoE"] configuration is provided by pppoeconf.

Q: What do I do if I can no longer boot Windows after installing Debian?

A: If all goes well, DebianInstaller should automatically add a working menu item for an existing Windows installation.

If no menu item was added, please file a detailed installation report. If you are using GRUB as your bootloader, add the following lines at the end of the file /boot/grub/menu.lst:

  title           Windows
  root            (hd0,0)
  chainloader     +1

You should change (hd0,0) to refer to the correct partition: (hd0,0) is Grub's notation for the first partition on the first harddisk (/dev/hda1 or /dev/sda1); (hd1,3) is the fourth partition on the second harddisk (/dev/hdb4). If you are using LILO as your bootloader, add the following lines at the end of the file /etc/lilo.conf:


Again, change /dev/hda1 to refer to your Windows partition. After updating this file, you will need to run 'lilo' as root.

If there is a menu entry, but you get errors when you try to boot Windows There could be different reasons for this. First you should check that the configuration of your bootloader is correct. See above for some pointers.

Q: Can I use d-i as a rescue system? What pitfalls are there?

A: Yes, you can use d-i to mount your hard disks and fix /etc/shadow if you forgot your password.

And you can also use d-i to boot your system to chroot into your installation and execute your boot-loader (grub, lilo, yaboot, ...) if you cannot boot from hard disk any more.

If you have a version of the installer that is later than that released in sarge, proper rescue support is included, just boot the installer with "rescue" and follow the prompts until it mounts your hard disk and gives you a shell chrooted into your system.

Otherwise, just boot the installation system as if you were starting a new installation, proceed to the point where you get to partitioning harddisks and stop there. Next switch to ["VT2"] (using alt-F2) or back out to the menu and start a shell from there. Create a directory /target, manually mount the partition(s) where you installed Debian on /target and execute chroot /target. Note: the installer uses devfs, so you will find your harddisks under /dev/discs. You cannot use the d-i menu item "install boot-loader" because the menu systems uses dependencies which require a Debian install (on a clean partition...) which you don't want.

Q: How to use preseeding? How to use network console with preseeding?

A: see ["DebianInstaller/Preseed"] and DebianInstaller/NetworkConsole

Q: How to shrink an existing windows installation?

A: Please see the Installation Guide, chapter 6.3.2. Basically, you need to select the item displaying the size of the partition to change the size. Please make sure that you check the partition for correctness before (best with chkdsk), and that you have a backup of your data, and also are able to re-install Windows (or forget about it totally) in case something breaks.

Q: What types of media are available? What versions are available? Where to download?

A: See http://www.debian.org/devel/debian-installer/

Q: Your amd64 CD does not boot. I downloaded it from http://someplace/foo/ia64/bar

A: The ia64 architecture is not the same as the amd64 achitecture and you downloaded the wrong CD image.