Debian Installation Checklist

After Googling and ogling a lot of documentation about installing Debian in a chroot environment, I decided to put together this quick checklist, mostly for my own purposes, so that I wouldn't have to search around so much the next time I install Debian. Feel free to use it if you wish.

Pre-installation steps

  1. Partition the hard drive as you wish and create filesystems of your choice on the partitions to use. Make sure to have at least a root directory and a swap partition.
  2. Set the system time and date, if necessary.

Main procedure

  1. Get and install debootstrap. The Debian package can be fetched from /debian/pool/main/d/debootstrap on your preferred Debian mirror, such as
  2. Run debootstrap to bootstrap the base system. Quick command:
    debootstrap --arch amd64 jessie /mnt/debian
  3. Mount /proc in Debian's prefix.
  4. Chroot into the bootstrapped system.
  5. Set the timezone by either symlinking the correct tz file into /etc or by running dpkg-reconfigure tzdata.
  6. Set up /etc/fstab.
  7. Add LANG="en_US.UTF-8" or similar to /etc/default/locale.
  8. Set up network information in /etc/hostname, /etc/hosts and /etc/network/interfaces. A rather standard configuration for the last would be as follows:
    auto lo eth0
    iface lo inet loopback
    iface eth0 inet dhcp
    debootstrap should have gotten /etc/resolv.conf right, but it is wise to check to be sure.
  9. Set up /etc/apt/sources.list. The following is a rather sane default configuration for a stable system:
    deb jessie main contrib
    deb-src jessie main contrib
    deb jessie/updates main contrib
    deb-src jessie/updates main contrib
    Remember to run apt-get update afterwards.
  10. Set the root password.
  11. Set APT::Install-Recommends "0"; in /etc/apt/apt.conf.
  12. Install the locales-all package.
  13. Install the console-data, unicode-data and kbd packages.
  14. Install a kernel, such as linux-image-amd64. It is probably a good idea to set up a /etc/kernel-img.conf first, as well. Sample contents:
    do_symlinks = Yes
    do_initrd = Yes
    link_in_boot = Yes
  15. Install sysvinit-core and remove systemd.
  16. Install and set up GRUB. Note that the package from GRUB 2 is grub-pc, not grub. Sample config:
    set timeout=10
    set default=0
    menuentry "Debian Wheezy" {
    	insmod gzio
    	set root=(hd0,msdos1)
    	linux /boot/vmlinuz ro root=/dev/sda1
    	initrd /boot/initrd.img
    Note, in particular, that the initrd requires a root filesystem on LVM to be specified as /dev/mapper/$VG-$LV, not as /dev/$VG/$LV.
  17. You can now boot into your Debian system, if you wish.

Post-installation goodies

You may want to run tasksel to get some common packages (for example, the standard set).

Useful extra packages

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Author: Fredrik Tolf <>
Last changed: Tue Feb 23 05:39:14 2016