November 5, 2004

How to Install Debian Linux on a desktop computer

Tarun Agnani writes "For those unfamiliar with Debian, all I can say is I've tried and used a lot of distributions, but nothing comes close to Debian. Debian is the old grandfather of Linux and was one of the first Linux distributions out there.

It was certainly the first distribution with package management. Besides having a rich history, Debian is reputed to be rock-solid, has excellent package management system and to go along about 15,000+ packages (as of today). It is completely free in spirit and in cost.

So why isn't everyone using this wonderful distribution? Critics have come up with several reasons. They say Debian isn't user friendly enough. They say the installer is too archaic. They say the packages are too outdated. And it's all true to some degree...but only if you choose the Debian Stable branch.

Now for a little explanation about the branches. Debian is divided into three branches: stable, testing, and unstable. Debian Stable contains packages which have passed their rigorous testing procedures. The "Testing" branch contains tested packages that aren't considered stable. But it is the "Unstable" branch that interests us. It's the one that contains more recent packages and is perfect for desktop use. "Unstable!" I hear you say. Why would you use anything called unstable? Well, you've got to take the name with a grain of salt. After all, Debian creates the most stable Linux ever created. Their idea of unstable is in regards to server use and is perfectly suited for desktop users. If you don't like the name, Debian Unstable also goes by "Sid".

Interested yet? Before we begin I must warn you that Debian requires you to have some Linux knowledge, but by no means do you have to be a elite hacker to run Debian.

You must be able to:
- Be comfortable with building kernels, loading and unloading modules
- Have a decent knowledge of your computer's hardware (model names and numbers), in case you need it
- Edit configuration files and read documentation

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