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 11 from scratch on the Mini-PC.
- The computer/Mini-PC/NUC… where we are going to install Debian 11.
- A USB flash drive.
- A computer already configured 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 11 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 11, select the image for your machine’s architecture. In my case, 64-bit PC.
Next, download Rufus from its official website. You can also use any other bootable USB software.
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 11
Insert the USB flash drive into the Mini-PC where you are going to install Debian 11, and turn it on.
A screen with an installation menu will appear. Click on Install.
Select the language, location, and keyboard map.
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.
Insert a hostname and a domain name. The domain is usually the same for all devices in the house. In my case I leave it empty by not using this option in my network.
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.
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.
At the moment, RAID, LVM will not be configured… Save.
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
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.
We are almost done. In the next window, the installer will ask us if we want to automatically install security updates on our server. Although the system requires maintenance regarding various updates, by default I activate the automatic installation option to correct serious vulnerabilities without having to be pending.
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.
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.
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.
sudo is not installed in Debian. To install it, log in as
root user or activate super user mode with:
$ su -
$ 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
# 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
non-free to access a larger package collection. In my case,
sources.list looks like this:
# deb cdrom:[Debian GNU/Linux 11.1.0 _Bullseye_ - Official amd64 NETINST 20211009-10:07]/ bullseye main deb http://deb.debian.org/debian/ bullseye main contrib non-free deb-src http://deb.debian.org/debian/ bullseye main contrib non-free deb http://security.debian.org/debian-security bullseye/updates main contrib non-free deb-src http://security.debian.org/debian-security bullseye/updates main contrib non-free # bullseye-updates, previously known as 'volatile' deb http://deb.debian.org/debian/ bullseye-updates main deb-src http://deb.debian.org/debian/ bullseye-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
The computer is configured in a basic way with Debian 11, 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.