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   Linux FAQ > 8. How To Do This or Find Out That...
Question:  8.2. Installing Linux Using FTP.

Most distributions are too large and complex to make FTP installation practical. Installing a basic Linux system that doesn't have a GUI or major applications is possible with FTP, however. The main non-commercial distribution in use is Debian GNU/Linux, and this answer describes an installation of a basic Debian system, to which you can add other Linux applications and commercial software as necessary.

This answer describes installation on IBM-compatible machines with an Intel x86 or Pentium processor. You will need a machine with at least a 80386 processor, 8 Mb of memory, and about 100 Mb of disk space. More memory and a larger disk is necessary however, for practical everyday use.

For other hardware, substitute "-arm," "-ppc," "-m68k," or other abbreviation in directory names for "-i386."

For detailed and hardware-specific information refer to:

  • Connect using anonymous FTP to and cd to the pub/debian/dists/stable/main/disks-i386/current/ subdirectory.

  • Retrieve the binary image files for the rescue disk, and the drivers disk. Depending on the floppy drive installed on your machine, retrieve either the diskette images with "1200" in the names if you have a 1.2 Mb, 5.25-in. floppy, or the disks with "1440" in the name if the computer has a 3.25-in., 1.44 Mb floppy. Then retrieve the base system diskettes. Note that there are 7 base system images in the 1.44-Mb set (which have a "14" in their names) , and 9 in the 1.2-Mb set of images (which have a "12" in their names). You will use these to create the basic installation diskettes. If you have a Linux machine, you can use dd to write the images to the diskettes. If you are creating the installation diskettes on a MS-DOS machine, also download the RAWRITE.EXE MS-DOS utility, which will copy the raw binary images to floppy disks. Also download the install.en.txt document, which contains the detailed installation instructions.

  • Create the installation disk set on floppies using either dd under Linux (e.g.: "dd if=resc1440.bin of=/dev/fd0"), or the RAWRITE.EXE utility under MS-DOS. Be sure to label each installation diskette.

  • Insert the rescue diskette into the floppy drive and reboot the computer. If all goes well, the Linux kernel will boot, and you will be able start the installation program by pressing Enter at the boot: prompt.

  • Follow the on-screen instructions for partitioning the hard disk, installing device drivers, the basic system software, and the Linux kernel. If the machine is connected to a local network, enter the network information when the system asks for it.

  • To install additional software over the Internet, be sure that you have installed the ppp module during the installation process, and run (as root) the /usr/sbin/pppconfig utility. You will need to provide your user name with your ISP, your password, the ISP's dial-up phone number, the address(es) of the ISP's Domain Name Service, and the serial port that your modem is connected to, /dev/ttyS0/dev/ttyS3. Be sure also to specify the defaultroute option to the PPP system, so the computer knows to use the PPP connection for remote Internet addresses.

  • You may have to perform additional configuration on the PPP scripts in the /etc/ppp subdirectory, and in particular, the ISP-specific script in the /etc/ppp/peers subdirectory. There are basic instructions in each script. For detailed information, refer to the Debian/GNU Linux installation instructions that you downloaded, the pppd manual page (type man pppd), and the PPP HOWTO from the Linux Documentation project,

  • Once you have a PPP connection established with your ISP (it will be displayed in the output of ifconfig), use the dselect program to specify which additional software you want to install. Use the apt [A]ccess option to retrieve packages via anonymous FTP, and make sure to use the [U]pdate option to retrieve a current list of packages from the FTP archive.

This FAQ is from Linux Frequently Asked Questions with Answers, maintained by Robert Kiesling

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