Migration to Debian linux from Windows Vista – Day 1

Since I have started developing web applications, it was my dream to migrate to Linux OS some day. But due to the lack of knowledge and to avoid the pain of configuring and installing everything, I avoided this shift, or you can say that I am afraid of moving to Linux.

But now after working as a developer for 10 years (actually more than that), I thought that this is the time I am ready to make the switch. I am running a Dell Inspiron 64 bit Core2Duo desktop with 4GB of RAM, and ample of disk space. So I thought to give it a shot and make my machine dual boot to try it out. Then as many of us do, I started researching on the best linux distros available today from a programmers and learners point of view.

I came to know many of the unheard names like Slackware (one of the oldest linux distros) and Arch Linux, the best recommended for learning linux. In the beginning my first choice was Arch Linux but when I reviewed more about the software and installation then I thought that I am not ready for this one. Then after some more research I found that “Debian” GNU/Linux, will be best one for me.

Then came the question, wheater to install 64 bit version or 32 bit. As I have a 64 bit machine I preferred to go with the 64 bit version. Although I found some user comments about non availability of packaged software for 64 bit Linux OS. I thought that it would not be difficult to compile the software from source for my version. But what happened next is the topic of next post in this series.

I have downloaded the net-installable amd64 version of Debian Lenny. Ran the setup.exe from windows, it installed the Debian installer and asked to restart the machine to start the setup. So I did the restart and I felt good to see a graphical setup program like we are used to in Windows. Although there are many options to chose like – Expert Install, Graphical, Text based etc. Along with option to select many parameters before beginning the installation.

The first few screens were usual time, location and keyboard settings. Then came the partition options. I chose ti resize my windows partition to get the space for Linux partition. Now to resize the partition on my 500GB hard disk with around 150GB of content took more than 2 hours. Yes… it is a very long time.

After that I selected the option to auto-create the required partitions and Debian Installer created a root partition and a swap partition assigning around 5% percent of whole space for the Linux partition.

Now came the next big step and a little confusing one – Select the source mirror to fetch the software for installation. I am India so obviously I selected India as my country (but actually this is not always a good choice, as the program window already suggested), it gave me two options and I chose one.

Then is started downloading the software packages list. Believe me I have made wrong choice above and it took more than 45 minutes to complete the download only to tell me that – the list is not fetched completely and there is no software available for installation. But it was a great option in the installer that at any step you can go back to any previous step and change your settings.

I went back and select US as country and from the list of mirrors selected the one with domain name as “mit”. Then it again started to download the list of software packages and now this completed within 15 minutes and successfully.  From the software select and install option i chose to install Standard System and Desktop environment.

Now it began the software download which was around 800 files (799 to be exact). This took more than 4 hours to download the complete software packages on my 512kbps BSNL unlimited broadband connection. And yes I went to bed in the morning, as then I was not sure how much time it is going to take.

This was I have ended my first day with Linux installation.

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