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I've been using Linux (Ubuntu) for a couple of months now, and I want to try Debian to see how different it is.

Well, I've already found a couple of differences..

  • The first one that Debian-Live means only-Live.
  • The second difference has stopped me in my tracks. There doesn't seem to be a specific .iso CD to download / install.

I am confronted with a list of 31 CDs ...

debian-506-i386-CD-1.iso
-to-
debian-506-i386-CD-31.iso

What is this all about and which .iso do I need for a vanilla (32 bit) desktop install?

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yep that caused confusion to me as well, they shouldn't have exposed the whole repository via the download page –  phunehehe Oct 26 '10 at 3:31
    
FWIW: it will always be possible to use "normal" GNOME even if Unity becomes the default (just like you can use KDE or XFCE or whatever). –  JanC Oct 26 '10 at 4:00
    
@JanC... Thanks. I thought that might be the case... but taking a "native" look at Debian will tell me what the current differences are... It's all griss to the mill... Unity might be fine (as long as it doesn't remind me of Windows :) –  Peter.O Oct 26 '10 at 5:08

2 Answers 2

up vote 17 down vote accepted

The Debian CD set contains all of the packages in the main repository. Most of this software can easily be downloaded later. According to the Debian wiki:

Although there are over 30 CDs (or 5 DVDs) in a full set, only the first CD is required to install Debian. The additional CDs are optional and include extra packages, that can be downloaded individually during the installation, or later.

Just installing CD-1 will limit what software you can install during the installation process, but after installing with the first CD, other software can be downloaded from the Debian repositories, just as with Ubuntu.

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2  
I would go further and suggest that you use the netinst image (about 140MB). –  bahamat Jun 27 '11 at 23:20
3  
Also, thanks to popularity-contest, the contents of each CD are decreasingly popular packages — so if you absolutely must download a whole CD image, the first few would do just fine. Personally, I download the netinst images and then install the packages I need on demand. No need for pieces of plastic/aluminium. –  Alexios Feb 14 '12 at 17:39
    
The Debian ISOs work on USB drives too. –  jw013 Sep 20 '12 at 13:06
    
And isosticks. –  paraxor Sep 1 '13 at 5:06

Usually many distros provides 'network' installation disk - including Debian. If you have normal broadband connection probably the easiest way is to install via network install as:

  • You download only things you need
  • You (usually - I'm not sure about Debian) don't need to update things right after installation as the newest package is installed with all security patches applied
  • You don't have problems that you downloaded only some of disks while you favourite editor is not included

Network image is as large as 40-120 MB for debian.

PS. Probably you would need standalone router for network installation as I doubt that many drivers for USB routers are included on network disk.

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