Apt Configuration For Debian Installation

Apt is the main component in the Debian package-management system. The apt tools enable packages to get installed from a variety of sources, manage the package archive sources, maintain a record of what you have installed and are used to install and remove packages for your systems.

From here, you set the initial configuration for the system. Once initially set, you can always make changes later. After the CD is scanned for all the packages that it contains, you will be asked if you want to scan another CD.

The options for configuring Apt are cdrom, http, ftp, filesystem, and edit sources list by hand. Unless you want to choose another installation location, insert the installation CD in the CD-ROM drive, and press Enter while cdrom is selected on the screen.

As mentioned, you can configure Apt to use several means of installing packages— CDs, the Internet, or other file systems. If you intend to install Debian over the network or Internet, you will need to select the network source at this time.

There are several mirrors to pick from all around the world. Finding one near you will not be difficult. Once the information from the media is configured for Apt, the next dialog box asks you how you want to install the packages. You have two options: simple or advanced.

I recommend using the simple option. The advanced option takes you directly into the package selection tool, where you pick exactly what packages you want installed. If you are not familiar with these packages, this can be overwhelming. The simple option opens a list of tasks.

Each task includes those packages needed to operate the system appropriately. You can navigate the list using the up and down arrows. To select a task, highlight it and press the spacebar, which marks the task with an asterisk (*). Systems that will use a modem to connect to the Internet should select the Dialup task.

Laptop systems need the corresponding Laptop task. Other systems require a graphical interface. For beginning users, here is a list of tasks that are recommended for you to install:

  • Dial-up—Dial-up utilities (for modem users only)
  • Gnome apps—Applications and utilities
  • Gnome desktop—The Gnome desktop environment
  • Gnome Net—Network applications
  • Laptop—Selection of tools for laptop users
  • X Window system—Complete X Window system

After you have selected all the tasks that you want, tab to the Finish button and press Enter. The next dialog box asks whether you want to attempt to autodetect your PCI video hardware. Some of the questions you might be asked can be answered using the inventory you did at the beginning of this adventure.

You are now ready to install the packages onto your system. Be sure that the CD is in the drive before you begin. Shortly after the process begins, the CD will be scanned for packages. Another dialog box may appear asking if you have sound hardware installed. Answer appropriately to continue the installation.

The installation time will vary depending the speed of your system (approximately 25 to 30 minutes). After the packages are extracted to your system, the configuration process begins. Some applications require a little interaction to complete the configuration, such as exim, the mail tool.

As other dialog boxes appear (based on what task components are installed), continue to do your best to answer the questions based on the help text. The majority of the packages include help text to assist you to correctly answer the questions. At the end, you will be asked whether you want to erase the .deb files.

Because they are on the CD, they cannot be erased; therefore, it doesn’t matter what you answer. You will then get a dialog box indicating that the installation is complete. Press Enter and you are ready to log in to a virtual terminal. If you install over an HTTP or FTP connection, the files get placed on your local drive before being installed.

In that case, answering No could take up considerable drive space. (The local cache file for downloaded packages is at /var/cache/apt/archives.) Use the root account to log in for the first time. Once you get a prompt, type dselect, and then press Enter. From the menu that appears, scroll to Select and press Enter.

Press the spacebar to continue to the list of applications, and then press Enter once to return to the main menu. Make sure that Install is selected, and then press Enter. In some cases, not all of the applications will have been installed on the first pass. This process will pick up any stragglers and install them.

Again, answer any questions during the configuration phase. With all the files now installed, you are ready to start using your new Debian GNU/Linux system.