Tutorial | How to install Debian 9 | Basic installation

This tutorial shows how to install a Debian 9 (Stretch) basic installation. The purpose of this guide is to provide a basic Debian setup that can be used as the basis for our other Tutorials.

1 Requirements

To install a Debian 9 server system you will need the following:

the Debian Stretch network installation CD, available here:
32Bit: https://cdimage.debian.org/debian-cd/current/i386/iso-cd/debian-9.5.0-i386-netinst.iso (i386) or
64Bit: https://cdimage.debian.org/debian-cd/current/amd64/iso-cd/debian-9.5.0-amd64-netinst.iso (x86_64 / amd64)

I will use the 64Bit installation media here.

The Debian Download links change regularly. If the above links do not work anymore, then go here to fetch the latest Debian netinst image: https://www.debian.org/distrib/netinst.

2 Preliminary Note

In this tutorial, I will use the hostname server.example.com with the IP address and the gateway These settings might differ for you, so you have to replace them where appropriate.

3 The Debian Base System

Insert your Debian 9 (Stretch) network installation CD into your system and boot from it. When you use a virtualization software like VMware or Virtualbox, then select the Debian 9 minimal iso file as source file for the DVD drive of the VM, you don’t have to burn it to a CD or DVD for that first.

Select Install (this will start the text installer – if you prefer a graphical installer, select Graphical install):

Select your language:

Then choose your location:

Choose default locale:

Choose a keyboard layout:

Enter the hostname. In this example, my system is called server.example.com, so I enter server:

Enter your domain name. In this example, this is example.com:

Afterward, give the root user a password:

Confirm that password to avoid typos:

Create a Linux user account, e.g. your name or nickname. For this example installation, I will choose the name “administrator” with the user name administrator (don’t use the user name admin as it is a reserved name on Debian Linux):

Now you have to partition your hard disk. For simplicity’s sake I select Guided – use entire disk – this will create a large partition for the / file system and another one for swap (of course, the partitioning is totally up to you – if you know what you’re doing, you can also set up your partitions manually).

Select the disk that you want to partition:

Then select the partitioning scheme. As mentioned before, I select All files in one partition (recommended for new users) for simplicity’s sake – it’s up to your likings what you choose here:

When you’re finished, select Finish partitioning and write changes to disk:

Select Yes when you’re asked: “Write changes to disk?”:

Afterward, your new partitions are created and formatted. Now the base system is installed:

It might be that the following screens pop’s up, depending on your install media. I will do a network based installation (all additional installation packages get downloaded from the internet), so I choose here to not scan any additional install disks.

Next, you must configure apt. Because we are using the Debian Jessie Netinstall CD, which contains only a minimal set of packages, we must use a network mirror. Select the country where the network mirror that you want to use is located (usually this is the country where your Server system is located):

Then select the mirror you wish to use (e.g. ftp.dk.debian.org):

Unless you use an HTTP proxy, leave the following field empty and hit Continue:

Apt is now updating its packages database:

You can skip the package usage survey by selecting No:

We just select Standard system utilities and SSH server (so that I can immediately connect to the system with an SSH client such as PuTTY after the installation has finished) and hit Continue.

Some might argue that one should not install the Standard System Utilities on a minimal server but in my opinion, you will need most of the standard utilities later anyway so I will install them on this server as part of the base setup.

The required packages are downloaded and installed on the system:

When you’re asked to Install the GRUB boot loader to the master boot record?, select Yes:

The installer might ask you in which partition Grub shall be installed. This server has just one hard disk, so I choose /dev/sda here.

Press enter and the Installer will install Grub and finishes the installation.

The base system installation is now finished. Remove the Debian Netinstall CD from the CD drive and hit Continue to reboot the system:

The first boot of the newly installed Debian 9 server: first you will see the boot screen of the Grub Boot Loader, press enter or wait a few seconds, the boot process will continue automatically.

A few seconds later the login prompt should show up.

Login with username “root” and the root password that you have chosen during installation. When you log in by SSH, then use the username “administrator” as the root user is disabled for remote logins. Then run the command “su”:


To become root user.

On to the next step…

4 Install The SSH Server (Optional)

If you did not install the OpenSSH server during the system installation, you could do it now:

apt-get -y install ssh openssh-server

From now on you can use an SSH client such as PuTTY and connect from your workstation to your Debian Jessie server and follow the remaining steps from this tutorial.


5 Install a shell editor (Optional)

I’ll use nano as my favorite shell text editor, others prefer vi that is not that easy to use for beginners. With the following command I will install both editors:

apt-get -y install vim-nox nano

(You don’t have to do this if you use a different text editor such as joe or the built-in editor from mc).


6 Configure The Network

By default, network tools like ifconfig are not available. install the package with:

apt-get install net-tools

Because the Debian 9 installer has configured our system to get its network settings via DHCP, we have to change that now because a server should have a static IP address. Edit /etc/network/interfaces and adjust it to your needs (in this example setup I will use the IP address (please note that I replace allow-hotplug ens33 with auto ens33; otherwise restarting the network doesn’t work, and we’d have to reboot the whole system):

nano /etc/network/interfaces

The interfaces file with DHCP enabled as created by the apt installer:

# This file describes the network interfaces available on your system
# and how to activate them. For more information, see interfaces(5).

source /etc/network/interfaces.d/*

# The loopback network interface
auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

# The primary network interface
allow-hotplug enp0s3
iface ens33 inet dhcp

And here the edited interfaces file with the static IP configured.

# This file describes the network interfaces available on your system
# and how to activate them. For more information, see interfaces(5).

source /etc/network/interfaces.d/*

# The loopback network interface
auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

# The primary network interface
auto enp0s3
iface enp0s3 inet static

Then restart your network:

service networking restart

Then edit /etc/hosts. Make it look like this:

nano /etc/hosts       localhost.localdomain   localhost   server.example.com     server

# The following lines are desirable for IPv6 capable hosts
::1     localhost ip6-localhost ip6-loopback
ff02::1 ip6-allnodes
ff02::2 ip6-allrouters

Now edit the hostname in case you did not select the final hostname in the installer

nano /etc/hostname

The /etc/hostname file contains the hostname without the domain part, so in our case just “server1”.

Then reboot the server to apply the hostname change:


After you logged in again, run:

hostname -f

To verify that the new hostname is set correctly. The outut should be:

root@server1:/home/administrator# hostname
root@server1:/home/administrator# hostname -f


7 Update Your Debian Installation

First, make sure that your /etc/apt/sources.list contains the stretch/updates repository (this makes sure you always get the newest updates), and that the contrib and non-free repositories are enabled.

nano /etc/apt/sources.list

# deb cdrom:[Debian GNU/Linux testing _Stretch_ - Official Snapshot amd64 NETINST 20170612-06:03]/ stretch main

#deb cdrom:[Debian GNU/Linux testing _Stretch_ - Official Snapshot amd64 NETINST 20170612-06:03]/ stretch main

deb http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian/ stretch main contrib non-free
deb-src http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian/ stretch main contrib non-free

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


apt-get update

to update the apt package database and

apt-get upgrade

to install the latest updates (if there are any).

That’s is, now your ready to start installing your project.


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