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C.4. Installing Debian GNU/Linux from a Unix/Linux System

This section explains how to install Debian GNU/Linux from an existing Unix or Linux system, without using the menu-driven installer as explained in the rest of the manual. This “cross-install” HOWTO has been requested by users switching to Debian GNU/Linux from Red Hat, Mandrake, and SUSE. In this section some familiarity with entering *nix commands and navigating the file system is assumed. In this section, $ symbolizes a command to be entered in the user's current system, while # refers to a command entered in the Debian chroot.

Once you've got the new Debian system configured to your preference, you can migrate your existing user data (if any) to it, and keep on rolling. This is therefore a “zero downtime” Debian GNU/Linux install. It's also a clever way for dealing with hardware that otherwise doesn't play friendly with various boot or installation media.

C.4.1. Getting Started

With your current *nix partitioning tools, repartition the hard drive as needed, creating at least one filesystem plus swap. You need at least 150MB of space available for a console only install, or at least 300MB if you plan to install X.

To create file systems on your partitions. For example, to create an ext3 file system on partition /dev/hda6 (that's our example root partition):

# mke2fs -j /dev/hda6

To create an ext2 file system instead, omit -j.

Initialize and activate swap (substitute the partition number for your intended Debian swap partition):

# mkswap /dev/hda5
# sync; sync; sync
# swapon /dev/hda5

Mount one partition as /mnt/debinst (the installation point, to be the root (/) filesystem on your new system). The mount point name is strictly arbitrary, it is referenced later below.

# mkdir /mnt/debinst
# mount /dev/hda6 /mnt/debinst

Note

If you want to have parts of the filesystem (e.g. /usr) mounted on separate partitions, you will need to create and mount these directories manually before proceding with the next stage.

C.4.2. Install debootstrap

The tool that the Debian installer uses, which is recognized as the official way to install a Debian base system, is debootstrap. It uses wget and ar, but otherwise depends only on /bin/sh. Install wget and ar if they aren't already on your current system, then download and install debootstrap.

If you have an rpm-based system, you can use alien to convert the .deb into .rpm, or download an rpm-ized version at https://people.debian.org/~blade/install/debootstrap

Or, you can use the following procedure to install it manually. Make a work folder for extracting the .deb into:

# mkdir work
# cd work

The debootstrap binary is located in the Debian archive (be sure to select the proper file for your architecture). Download the debootstrap .deb from the pool, copy the package to the work folder, and extract the binary files from it. You will need to have root privileges to install the binaries.

# ar -x debootstrap_0.X.X_arch.deb
# cd /
# zcat /full-path-to-work/work/data.tar.gz | tar xv

Note that running debootstrap may require you to have a minimal version of glibc installed (currently GLIBC_2.3). debootstrap itself is a shell script, but it calls various utilities that require glibc.

C.4.3. Run debootstrap

debootstrap can download the needed files directly from the archive when you run it. You can substitute any Debian archive mirror for http.us.debian.org/debian in the command example below, preferably a mirror close to you network-wise. Mirrors are listed at https://www.debian.org/misc/README.mirrors.

If you have a sarge Debian GNU/Linux CD mounted at /cdrom, you could substitute a file URL instead of the http URL: file:/cdrom/debian/

Substitute one of the following for ARCH in the debootstrap command: alpha, arm, hppa, i386, ia64, m68k, mips, mipsel, powerpc, s390, or sparc.

# /usr/sbin/debootstrap --arch ARCH sarge \
     /mnt/debinst https://http.us.debian.org/debian

C.4.4. Configure The Base System

Now you've got a real Debian system, though rather lean, on disk. Chroot into it:

# LANG= chroot /mnt/debinst /bin/bash

C.4.4.1. Mount Partitions

You need to create /etc/fstab.

# editor /etc/fstab

Here is a sample you can modify to suit:

# /etc/fstab: static file system information.
#
# file system    mount point   type    options                  dump pass
/dev/XXX         /             ext3    defaults                 0    1
/dev/XXX         /boot         ext3    ro,nosuid,nodev          0    2

/dev/XXX         none          swap    sw                       0    0
proc             /proc         proc    defaults                 0    0

/dev/fd0         /mnt/floppy   auto    noauto,rw,sync,user,exec 0    0
/dev/cdrom       /mnt/cdrom    iso9660 noauto,ro,user,exec      0    0

/dev/XXX         /tmp          ext3    rw,nosuid,nodev          0    2
/dev/XXX         /var          ext3    rw,nosuid,nodev          0    2
/dev/XXX         /usr          ext3    rw,nodev                 0    2
/dev/XXX         /home         ext3    rw,nosuid,nodev          0    2

Use mount -a to mount all the file systems you have specified in your /etc/fstab, or to mount file systems individually use:

# mount /path   # e.g.: mount /usr

You can mount the proc file system multiple times and to arbitrary locations, though /proc is customary. If you didn't use mount -a, be sure to mount proc before continuing:

# mount -t proc proc /proc

The command ls /proc should now show a non-empty directory. Should this fail, you may be able to mount proc from outside the chroot:

# mount -t proc proc /mnt/debinst/proc

C.4.4.2. Configure Keyboard

To configure your keyboard:

# dpkg-reconfigure console-data

Note that the keyboard cannot be set while in the chroot, but will be configured for the next reboot.

C.4.4.3. Configure Networking

To configure networking, edit /etc/network/interfaces, /etc/resolv.conf, and /etc/hostname.

# editor /etc/network/interfaces

Here are some simple examples from /usr/share/doc/ifupdown/examples:

######################################################################
# /etc/network/interfaces -- configuration file for ifup(8), ifdown(8)
# See the interfaces(5) manpage for information on what options are
# available.
######################################################################

# We always want the loopback interface.
#
auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

# To use dhcp:
#
# auto eth0
# iface eth0 inet dhcp

# An example static IP setup: (broadcast and gateway are optional)
#
# auto eth0
# iface eth0 inet static
#     address 192.168.0.42
#     network 192.168.0.0
#     netmask 255.255.255.0
#     broadcast 192.168.0.255
#     gateway 192.168.0.1

Enter your nameserver(s) and search directives in /etc/resolv.conf:

# editor /etc/resolv.conf

A simple /etc/resolv.conf:

search hqdom.local\000
nameserver 10.1.1.36
nameserver 192.168.9.100

Enter your system's host name (2 to 63 characters):

# echo DebianHostName > /etc/hostname

If you have multiple network cards, you should arrange the names of driver modules in the /etc/modules file into the desired order. Then during boot, each card will be associated with the interface name (eth0, eth1, etc.) that you expect.

C.4.4.4. Configure Timezone, Users, and APT

Set your timezone, add a normal user, and choose your apt sources by running

# /usr/sbin/base-config new

C.4.4.5. Configure Locales

To configure your locale settings to use a language other than English, install the locales support package and configure it:

# apt-get install locales
# dpkg-reconfigure locales

NOTE: Apt must be configured before, ie. during the base-config phase. Before using locales with character sets other than ASCII or latin1, please consult the appropriate localization HOWTO.

C.4.5. Install a Kernel

If you intend to boot this system, you probably want a Linux kernel and a boot loader. Identify available pre-packaged kernels with

# apt-cache search kernel-image

Then install your choice using its package name.

# apt-get install kernel-image-2.X.X-arch-etc

C.4.6. Set up the Boot Loader

To make your Debian GNU/Linux system bootable, set up your boot loader to load the installed kernel with your new root partition. Note that debootstrap does not install a boot loader, though you can use apt-get inside your Debian chroot to do so.

Check info grub or man lilo.conf for instructions on setting up the bootloader. If you are keeping the system you used to install Debian, just add an entry for the Debian install to your existing grub menu.lst or lilo.conf. For lilo.conf, you could also copy it to the new system and edit it there. After you are done editing, call lilo (remember it will use lilo.conf relative to the system you call it from).

Here is a basic /etc/lilo.conf as an example:

boot=/dev/hda6
root=/dev/hda6
install=menu
delay=20
lba32
image=/vmlinuz
label=Debian

 
 
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