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.

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 use the LVM installer?
  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. What is the difference between the different DHCP clients?
  12. After installation, my machine just keeps rebooting!
  13. Problems with ide-scsi module
  14. Why do I have to choose twice which mirror to use?
  15. Why doesn't the installer automatically choose an optimized kernel?
  16. How about SMP support?

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.

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.

We understand that the default behavior is annoying if you're a sysadmin installing a server on a network with DHCP, but need to use a static IP, but you're in a fairly small category of users, and really, expert mode was designed just for you.

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.

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

Answer: Paul Fleischer implemented a test image, whose support will be soon merged. Take a look at his [ list posting] from debian-boot.

Question 7: Is there any more information about using the LVM installer - it doesn't seem to work/make much sense to me!

Answer: Yes, as of beta 3 this is fairly straightforward to do, using the menu item in the partitioner titled "Configure the Logical Volume Manager".

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

Answer: There are currently three options for SATA users:

  1. Get at least Beta4 of the installer (or a more recent nightly build), the 2.4.25 kernel includes some support for SATA. This is expected to improve later as the kernel package in the installer is updated to 2.4.26-2 or later where the SATA drivers have been included (as announced [ here]).

  2. Install using the Linux 2.6 kernel which should have support for your SATA hardware (boot the installer with "linux26").
  3. See if you can change your SATA settings in the BIOS from somethink like "Native mode" to "Compability mode" (might be labeled differently)

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" for rather experimental support.

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

Answer: ??

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

Answer: see ?DebianInstallerModify

Question: How can I build the DebianInstaller?

Answer: see ?DebianInstallerBuild

Question 11: What's the difference between dhcp-client and dhcpcd ?

Context: I'm testing beta 3 of the Debian-Installer .

When I install debian on a fresh machine and select "testing" and, inside tasksel, choose only

  [*] Broadband internet connection

, then it removes "dhcp-client" and installs "dhcpcd".

Why ? "dhcp-client" was working fine during the previous net-install.

Answer: Well dhcpcd conflicts with dhcp-client .. you might want to fill a wishlist bug for tasksel to better include already provided dhcp-client: [ bug tracking system]

Question 12: 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: ???

Question 13: 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: ???

Question 14: 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 15: 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.

Question 16: 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].