Debian-Installer: FAQ


Before attempting an installation or reporting a problem, remember to check the [ errata] page to see if your problem is already well known.

It might also be worthwhile to check [ this page] to see the status of the DebianInstaller on different architectures and with different installation methods.

Finally, if you are experiencing problems with an older version of the installer, please try a more recent version (such as the [ latest release candidate] or [ daily build]), as your problem might already be solved.

List of questions

  1. Hardware is detected at install time but not after reboot.
  2. Why use DHCP automatically?
  3. I don't agree that DHCP should run automatically.
  4. Why not use an existing installer from another distro?
  5. Will there be a graphical installer?
  6. Will there be support for software RAID?
  7. How do I install using LVM?
  8. Is Serial ATA (SATA) hardware supported?
  9. How can I add support for a driver for which I have the sources?
  10. Is the 2.6 version of the Linux kernel supported?
  11. How to install with boot floppies + netinst.iso mounted as a loop device in the ramdisk from a ext2 partition?
  12. How can I create boot iso with my own set of packages?
  13. How can I build the DebianInstaller

  14. After installation, my machine just keeps rebooting!
  15. Problems with ide-scsi module
  16. Why do I have to choose twice which mirror to use?
  17. Why doesn't the installer automatically choose an optimized kernel?
  18. How about SMP support?
  19. Why isn't the installed system configured to use the language I chose during installation?
  20. Why isn't X configured to use the keyboard I chose during installation?
  21. When I run the DebianInstaller, my keyboard doesn't work!

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

  23. There seems to be errors reading the CD!
  24. How can I install sid (unstable) with DebianInstaller?

  25. How do I copy d-i (log)files to a remote host?
  26. How do I use netinst over ppp(oe)?
  27. What do I do if I can no longer boot Windows after installing Debian?
  28. Can I use d-i as a rescue systems ? What pitfalls are there ?

Question 1: The installer detects my ethernet card and loads the proper modules for it, but when I reboot, no drivers are loaded (the card doesn't work).

Answer: This is most probably a known problem with discover-data. The problem will go away once discover-data is upgraded to a more recent version. This should have already happened now, so if you see the problem, let us know.

Question 2: Why does DebianInstaller always use DHCP? I want a static address!

Answer: 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.
  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).

Question 3: But DHCP shouldn't run automatically, it breaks on my system/gets the wrong information/is not what I want.

Answer: 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.)

Question 4: Why are you doing this? Why not use Anaconda/PGI/whatever? Why reinvent the wheel?

Answer: 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 easy installs on Intel clones booting from CD (and USB sticks). And many more; all the currenly targeted installation methods are listed [ here].

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

Question 5: Is the DebianInstaller going to be graphical in nature? / Is there any prebuilt/downloadable graphical DebianInstaller?

Answer: The DebianInstaller will not be graphical by nature, but modularity is a key in its design. It would allow the use of different kinds of frontends, including those of a graphical nature.

There is a project underway to create a GTK frontend to the installer. For more information on the current status of this frontend see [ here]. Unfortunately the project hasn't seen much activity lately.

sarge will not ship with any kind of graphical installer; the project is simply way too unfinished. The main reason for this is that creating a graphical installer around DebianInstaller's current design is inherently very hard; just adding GTK+ or Qt widgets on top of cdebconf will not produce a friendlier installer than what is already available from the newt front end. In order to make a user-friendly graphical installer, one will have to do a lot of thinking as of how to combine multiple questions into one screen, do partitioning etc. most effectively in a graphical setting while still working well with the rest of the installer. This is definitely something that will not be done for sarge, but any help for future releases would be greatly appriciated.

Question 6: Will the DebianInstaller support creating and installing to software RAID devices?

Answer: ["RC2"] is known to have RAID 0, 1, 5, but won't work for boot now with grub unpatched ([http:''/ #251905]).

Question 7: How do I install using LVM? Is there any more information about using the LVM installer? LVM installation doesn't work!

Answer: As of beta3 or later, 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 [ 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.

On ["RC2"] partman will let you build an LVM on top of a RAID device even for root. Nevertheless Grub has still some troubles ([ #251905]).

Question 8: Is installation on SATA harddrives supported by DebianInstaller?

Answer: There are currently three options for SATA users:

  1. Get the [wiki:?["RC2"]] or [ daily build] of the DebianInstaller, the 2.4.27 kernel includes some support for SATA.

  2. Install using the Linux 2.6 kernel which should 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 "Compability mode" (might be labeled differently)

For a list of supported chipsets and their status of support you may want to be assisted by []

If you have a Gigabyte GA-["K8NS"] Pro or similar mainboard, you may want to take a look at [ #281843] (for i386 installation) or [ #281839] (for ["AMD64"] installation).

Question 9: 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? Do the steps include the phrase, "Assume you have kernel-headers?" Do you think you'll be able to include kernel-headers for the installer's kernel image(s) in the CD image, so we don't have to sneaker-net them around?

Answer: 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 (do not forget to add lspci -v output).

Question 10: Will there be support for Linux 2.6 kernels?

Answer: Boot with "linux26". Note that 2.6 is the default for at least powerpc installs, is not yet available for all architectures, and is not available when booting i386 from floppies.

Question 11: How to install with boot floppies + netinst.iso mounted as a loop device in the ramdisk from a ext2 partition?

Answer: 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

Question 12: How can I create boot iso with my own set of packages?

Answer: see ?DebianInstallerModify

Question 13: How can I build the DebianInstaller?

Answer: see ?DebianInstallerBuild

Question 14: Why after installer tells me its finished and reboot it ejects the cdrom and then after the machine start up, it enters the welcome debian screen, but then it keep rebooting?

Answer: This [ bug #249600 against hotplug] should be fixed now. Please let us know if not.

Question 15: Why does the installer ask for the ide-scsi module to install the system, when it clearly can use the normal ide-cd module to do this? Why is the ide-scsi module not included on the cd install, and where can we get it (I have tried the cd drivers boot floppy, no good)?

Answer: Please file an installation report with the details if you see this; we never have encountered such a problem. The installer does not know about, or need the ide-scsi hack.

Question 16: Why do I have to choose twice which mirror to use (at installation and later when base-config is performed)?

Answer: This is a known bug and it's being worked on (see bug number [ 220269] for the current status).

Question 17: Why doesn't the installer automatically choose the appropriate kernel to install (for example an i686 kernel instead of the generic i386)?

Answer: This is bug [ 237529] and it should be fixed by now. If you still see this problem in a recent installer, please reopen that bug and include the content of /proc/cpuinfo and which kernel version should be installed for your processor.

Note: 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.

Question 18: What about SMP support?

Answer: 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).

There is currently a bug filed against the DebianInstaller, requesting this feature. You can see it's current status by looking at [ the bug report].

Question 19: Why isn't the installed system configured to use the language I chose during installation?

Answer: This problem will likely remain until bugs [ 237387] and [ 244475] are fixed. If you still experince problems with an installer version which is released after these two are fixed, please reopen the appropriate bug.

Question 20: Why isn't X configured to use the keyboard I chose during installation?

Answer: This is a known problem, to check if it has been fixed or to track it's progress, see bug report [ 238778].

Question 21: When I run the DebianInstaller, my keyboard doesn't work!

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

Question 22: Why isn't my NIC supported by DebianInstaller, I know the "tg3" driver supports it!

Answer: 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 [ here] and [ 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.

Question 23: There seems to be errors reading the CD!

Answer: First of all, check that the ["MD5"]-sum of the ISO file you downloaded is correct. If you are positive that the CD is correct, it could be that the CD-ROM is old and/or flaky when using DMA. Try disabling DMA for the CD-ROM (by booting with "linux ide=nodma"), unfortunately this boot option is currently broken (see bug [ 226057]).

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

Question 24: How can I install sid (unstable) with DebianInstaller?

Answer: Install testing and upgrade. Other methods are possible, but are not supported.

Question 25: How do I copy d-i (log)files to a remote host?

Note: Both methods described below will only work after you have configured a network interface.

Answer 1: Use netcat (included in busybox):

  1. Make sure you have netcat installed on the remote system.
  2. On the remote system: start a shell, cd to a directory where you wish to save the files, and run nc -l -p 1234 >syslog. This will make the remote system listen on port 1234 for a connection from another netcat process.

  3. On the system you are installing: go to ["VT2"] and run /'nc <remote_system> 1234 <var><remote_system> by the name or ip address of the remote system.

Answer 2: Use the open-ssh-client installer module:

  1. Start the installer in expert mode (or medium priority).
  2. At Load installer components select open-ssh-client-udeb from the list.

  3. From the system you are installing, you should now be able to use scp to copy files to a remote system using e.g. /'scp /var/log/syslog <username>@<remote_system>:, again replacing <remote_system>/ by the name or ip address of the remote system.

  4. By default the file will be copied to the home directory of <username> on the remote system; optionally a path can be added after the ':'.

In the examples above I've used /var/log/syslog as the file to be transferred and, for netcat, 1234 as the port to be used for the transfer; both can of course be changed.

Both methods can also be used to copy files from a remote system to the system being installed. This is left as an exercise to the reader.

Question 26: How do I use netinst over ppp(oe)?

Don't know the answer to "netinst over ppp", maybe someone can help out ?

Network configuration is not automatic for machines using ["PPPoE"] for their ADSL connexion. It it possible to setup an ADSL/["PPPoE"] connexion with the Debian-Installer but there isn't any menu item for it in the installer yet. This will be addressed soon. In the meanwhile the workaround is, at the beginning of the second phase (after the reboot done by the installer), to switch to a virtual console (Ctrl-Alt-Functionkey) and then run pppoeconf from here.

Network configuration fails for computers using router modems like Alcatel ?SpeedTouch 530, that is some DSL modems which provide both DHCP and PPP services. Using Debian-Installer with such a configuration is still possible but not automated yet. The manual workaround is described in the bug report.

Question 27: What do I do if I can no longer boot Windows after installing Debian? If all goes well, Debian Installer should automatically add a menu item for an existing Windows installation. Currently there are two known issues that may result you not being able to boot into Windows after the installation.

Issue 1: There is no menu item in the bootloader If you decided to select a mountpoint for your Windows partition during partitioning, the installer may have been unable to find Windows due to bug [ #251794]. You can fix this by manually adding the Windows partition to your bootloader configuration.

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.

Issue 2: 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 issue 1 for some pointers.

If you installed using the 2.6 kernel, another cause may be that the hard disk geometry as reported in the partition table was altered during installation. See [ this article] in LWN for a good explanation of this issue and information on how to rectify it.

Question 28: Can I use d-i as a rescue systems ? What pitfalls are there ?

Yes, you can use d-i to mount your hard-discs 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 but from hard-disc anymore. you cannot use the d-i menu-item "install boot-loader" because the menu systems uses dependencies which requiere a debian-install (on a clean partition...) which you don't want.

List of changes

  • h01ger -- 2004-Dec-14
    • added entry about rescue system
  • h01ger -- 2004-Dec-13
    • Answered question 26 (copied from debian-boot) on the pppoe part
  • ATLF -- 2004-Dec-09
    • Changed "hd(0,0)" to "(hd0,0)"
  • FJP -- 2004-Dec-06
    • Added question 27 on Windows boot problems
    • Added info on Gigabyte GA-["K8NS"] Pro mainboards to question 8
  • Mars ?DeLapp -- 2004-Nov-02

    • Added info on CD read errors
  • FJP -- 2004-Oct-31
    • reverted to version 1.99, which is the last properly formatted version
  • FJP -- 2004-Oct-06
    • Modified info on copying files to a remote system
  • Sesse -- 2004-Aug-27
    • Added more information on why we don't have a graphical installer in sarge
  • ?TheOrb -- 2004-Aug-10

    • Added link to bug and more info on how to work around it to question 14.
  • FJP -- 2004-July-12
    • Added info on copying files using ssh
  • Osamu -- 2004-June-18
    • Added info on DHCP/FIX IP issue
  • AlexeyS -- 2004-June-06
    • Added question 26 about ru_RU
  • DavidH -- 2004-05-09
    • Answered sid question
  • DavidH -- 2004-05-06
    • Added CD-ROM read errors question
  • DavidH -- 2004-05-05
    • Added X keyboard question
    • Added dead keyboard question
    • Added missing tg3 driver question
    • Corrected question numbering
  • DavidH -- 2004-05-03
    • Added more information to LVM question
    • Added 3 more questions (locales, SMP, auto-kernel selection)
    • Changed layout a bit, added more text to initial Note