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General questions

Q. How to bootstrap from within another Linux distribution?

The Debian Installation Guide has a section on installing Debian from another Linux distribution. See Appendix D.3. Installing Debian GNU/Linux from a Unix/Linux System. Link for amd64:

Q. Where can I download the netinstall CD image for stable/testing/unstable?

A1) The network install images for stable (bookworm) can be found at

A2) The network install images for testing (trixie) can be found at However, unless you want to test the installer for testing the better choice is to use the stable installer to install a minimal stable system and then upgrade to testing by changing your /etc/apt/sources.list file.

A3) There are currently no network install images for unstable. If you want to install unstable, download the image for testing and upgrade to unstable by editing /etc/apt/sources.list. However, unless you want to test the installer for testing, the better choice is to use the stable installer to install a minimal stable system and upgrade to testing and then unstable as described above.

Q. How do I install Gentoo/Redhat/SUSE packages on a Debian based system?

Installing packages from a different Linux distribution, even one that is Debian based like Ubuntu, can break your system but there are safe ways to install software that is not available in Debian's archives. DontBreakDebian has more information on this topic.

Stable questions

Q. Do I need all the ISOs?

A1) No. You can install using only the first ISO and then configure your system to download software and updates from a debian repository. You can also do a network install using a special small ISO image (usually under 100 MB) or using only a handful of floppies.

A2) Downloading all ISOs is massively wasteful of bandwidth. You're highly unlikely to use any software on the last five ISOs. Each of them contains Debian packages, and they're sorted by popularity. The most popular stuff (like X, gcc, KDE, GNOME) is all on the first ISO.

Q. OK, I have an i386 box and Debian CD #1. Now what?

A1) Put the CD in the drive, and tell your BIOS to boot from CD-ROM. The CD should boot and drop you at a boot: prompt. If you read the screen you will see that you should press F1 for help. Please do that, and actually read the help. You must first choose which kernel you will attempt to boot. This kernel is not only used during the installation, but is also installed onto your hard drive, so you will want to choose carefully.

Q. The installer does not run on/detect my hardware. What do I do?

A1) Be sure you have downloaded the installer for your hardware architecture. (The i386 architecture is for both Intel and AMD 32 bit CPUs. The amd64 architecture is for both Intel and AMD 64 bit CPUs.)

A2) Use an updated installer that supports the newest hardware. Should there be any problems after installation you may wish to use the backports repository on your new system to obtain and have security support for a newer kernel to better support your hardware.

A3) Obtain help from IRC or the Debian mailing lists.