Personal Notes on Setting Up Debian on my Laptop
I’ve been running Debian 9 on my laptop for the past few days and it works great! This was my first time booting Linux onto a laptop and it was not too bad. I definitely made some first-time mistakes, but after getting set up the machine has been stable and smooth.
Here are some personal notes on my experience and things I wish I knew before starting.
- Dell-specific debian wiki pages, especially good for getting wifi driver
- Eric Mill’s setup guide is pretty great. Follow it.
- How to prepare a USB drive on OSX for booting an ISO image
- Arch Linux also tends to have a lot of useful resources
- Choose LTS: Following a guide, I wound up with a test version of Debian. I shrugged at this fact at the time, but the biggest issue with it is that the primary package management sources
/etc/apt/sources.listends up being not the same as what everyone else has, and is a pain to debug and hard to find resources on. You want your package manager to work; it’s one of the nicest parts of having a linux machine. Have a plan for editing BIOS settings. You should know exactly what you’re going to change, and why you’re going to change it. I probably had 3 or 4 false starts from fiddling too much with them and it can add a lot of time onto the setup.
- When booting from USB, don’t pull out the USB. dd is a dangerous command, but you’re going to have to use it to set up your USB. Fortunately I was careful here and didn’t wipe my girlfriend’s hard drive (hi Nidya!). On a Mac, use the diskutil utilitity for everything and tread lightly.
- Do the non-graphical install (there’s probably something to this but it’s the only one I could make work). USB drives are slightly difficult to run down! CVS carries them at the counter.
- For some reason, the BIOS menu never found the right-hand-side USB but could boot from the left-hand-side. If having trouble here try to round-robin the inputs.