Debian Installers:

Table of Contents:
("There's more than one way to do it.")

Introduction and Explanation

"The Debian installer sucks!" People saying this are astonished to hear me reply "Which one?" Such commentators usually want a naive-user-friendly, preferably graphical installer that aggressively probe hardware (which they know little about), and don't give a damn about non-i386 architectures. They don't value network installs, broad choice of journaling filesystems (XFS, JFS), flexibility, small installer images, or sparse initial installs.

All of that means they might hate the Official Debian installer, but would be fine using Ubuntu Linux, Xandros Desktop OS, or maybe even Knoppix. But they use the wrong installer, complain, are advised of their error, and then complain that they had no way to know better. Please let them know of this page.

The standard Debian installer fits a very broad set of needs: flexible installs on multiple architectures from a range of media with minimal assumptions as to graphical support, modular, usable over any and all network transports and other console access mechanisms, and resistant to hardware problems.

Other installers serve different needs: E.g., if you love the XFS filesystem and don't want to install onto it the hard way, you need an unofficial installer image. Or you're building a severely locked-down firewall — or seeking a feature-packed run-from-CD system with optional hard drive install. Guess what? Every one of the installers builds a Debian system.

Note: The categories below are a bit fluid. E.g., many of the "desktop variants" are fine ways to start a standard Debian system; most of the run-from-CD variants include hard drive installers.

Pointers ("[notable]") indicate installation options known to be excellent of their kind.

Desktop / New-User Friendly Installers (see also Knoppix and similar)

Run-from-CD Variants

Unofficial (or Beta) Installer Images for Debian

The Official Debian Installer

Specialised Variants

Chroot Installation

User-Mode Linux Installation

PXE Installation

Installation from MS-Windows or MS-DOS

Installation from a USB memory stick

Non-Interactive Installers (for building clusters, etc.)

Roll Your Own

Acknowledgement: This page owes much to