Installing Debian 10 from scratch

4 minute read

After trying Home Assistant on a Raspberry Pi 2 for several months, it became necessary to buy a Mini-PC in order to expand the services and devices in my home, that is why I have encouraged myself to buy a Medion S22003 MD34639.

Home Assistant Add-ons are quite useful, they allow you to configure new services in a simple way. But many times, they fall short in functionality and not all services are available as Add-on. So I decided to install a Linux-based operating system, Docker and all services as Docker containers. This will ease the task of keeping the settings and data of each “application”, and the quick update and management of each one separately without affecting the rest.

In this list, the first point is to install Debian 10 from scratch on the Mini-PC.

Requirements

  • The computer/Mini-PC/NUC… where we are going to install Debian 10.
  • A USB flash drive.
  • A computer to create an installation image on the USB drive.

Download and burn the image

I have chosen to do an installation with a boot USB containing the Debian 10 image. The first thing to do is download the image and burn it to the USB stick using Rufus.

From the page for obtaining Debian 10, select the image for your machine’s architecture. In my case, 64-bit PC.

Debian 10 image download

Next, download Rufus from its official website. You can also use any other bootable USB software.

Rufus settings

Insert the USB drive into the computer. Open Rufus, load the recently downloaded image into the program, and select the USB. The rest of the options can be left as default.

Click on Start. When are done, close the window and unplug the USB.

Installing Debian 10

Insert the USB flash drive into the Mini-PC where you are going to install Debian 10, and turn it on.

A screen with an installation menu will appear. Click on Install.

Installer menu

Language settings

Select the language, location, and keyboard map.

Language selection

Network configuration

The network settings will then be loaded so that the necessary files can be downloaded during installation. In my case, the computer has a Wi-Fi connection and a network cable. The first one uses a proprietary driver, so during the installation it becomes difficult to configure it, I choose to connect the network cable and configure the device later.

Network hardware error

Insert a hostname and a domain name. The domain is usually the same for all devices in the house.

Hostname

User accounts

In the user account configuration, define a password for the user root (administrator), and for the user account to be used usually with less privileges: full name, username, and password.

root user password

basic user fullname

Disk partition setup

Since the computer will be used exclusively as a server and almost all services will be encapsulated in Docker containers, the hard disk will be configured to use a single disk partition, select the internal hard disk (be careful not to select the USB memory), and indicate that all files will be saved in a single partition.

Guided disk partition

Disk selection

One file partition

At the moment, RAID, LVM will not be configured… Save.

Repositories configuration

Select the Debian mirror country for the package manager, and a Web address of your choice for your country. If you don’t know the nearest mirror Web address, choose deb.debian.org.

One partition for all files

If you have a Proxy to access your network, it can be configured in the next step, usually you have none, so it can be left blank.

Proxy settings

Software selection

Finally, in the software selection window, since at least in my case I don’t want a desktop environment. I only select SSH Server and System Utilities.

Software selection

Finish the installation

Wait a few minutes until the installation is complete. Remove the USB flash drive from the computer and click continue to restart the computer.

Installation complete

By choosing the installation without desktop, when loading the system a console window will be shown asking for a user and its password, you can use root or the user you have created in the user accounts configuration step.

Debian GNU/Linux 10 n-primaryserver tty1

n-primaryserver login: _

Bonus: Install sudo

sudo is a command that used before another command causes that command to be executed with the privileges of another user (usually root). It is widely used to be able to use commands that need privileges without having to change users.

By default, sudo is not installed in Debian. To install it, log in as root user or activate super user mode with:

$ su -

Install sudo executing:

$ apt-get install sudo -y

Gives permissions to use sudo to the current user with:

$ usermod -aG sudo YOURUSER

The next line has yet to be added to the sudoers file, modifying the file with visudo command:

# Allow members of group sudo to execute any command
%sudo   ALL=(ALL:ALL) ALL

Restart the computer to make the changes effective.

Bonus 2: Update sources.list

sources.list is a file that indicates the repositories where Debian will look for firmware, software… It is necessary to update it in order to have resources that by default are not accessible. Execute the command:

$ sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list

This will open a text editor. The idea is to add contrib and non-free to access a larger package collection. In my case, sources.list looks like this:

# deb cdrom:[Debian GNU/Linux 10.4.0 _Buster_ - Official amd64 NETINST 20200509-10:25]/ buster main

deb http://deb.debian.org/debian/ buster main contrib non-free
deb-src http://deb.debian.org/debian/ buster main contrib non-free

deb http://security.debian.org/debian-security buster/updates main contrib non-free
deb-src http://security.debian.org/debian-security buster/updates main contrib non-free

# buster-updates, previously known as 'volatile'
deb http://deb.debian.org/debian/ buster-updates main
deb-src http://deb.debian.org/debian/ buster-updates main

Then save by pressing F3 and exit the editor with F2.

Finally, execute the commands:

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get upgrade
$ sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Conclusion

The computer is configured in a basic way with Debian 10, with the bonus of having available the widely used sudo command and access to a larger catalog of packages. The next steps are to install Docker and the containers we want as services so that our computer becomes a powerful home server.

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