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I am trying to do a Debian install with no X, print server, etc. I only want to install the "standard system utilities" tasksel. But if I wanted to install certain packages like network-manager, firmware-linux-nonfree, and wireless-tools, how would I do this from within the Debian installer? (Once I reboot into fresh install, I have no network connection, no wireless-tools, etc and can't install anything without downloading .deb files and using dpkg). So I want to find a way to get to a terminal and manually install files while I do have a network connection, during the installer.

How do I install packages from the Debian install CD, once the tasksel portion of the installer has completed fetching and installing standard utilities? For instance, if I wanted to install network-manager from the Debian installer, how would I do that?

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I talked to some folks on IRC and got a workable solution. Unfortunately, there is no simple way to select specific packages to install from within the Debian installer (which would be a nice feature to see in future releases of debian installer instead of having tasksel be the only option for choosing packages). But you can do it by dropping to a command line, mounting and chrooting into the /target filesystem, and installing the packages manually using apt.

After the tasksel step, where I installed the "standard system utilities", I waited for the packages to finish installing and for the grub installation prompt to load up. Before installing grub, I switched to a terminal by pressing ALT+F2. Once at the terminal, I typed in the following:

mount -o bind /sys /target/sys
mount -o bind /dev /target/dev
chroot /target

Now that the environment is set up correctly, edit /etc/apt/sources.list to add the contrib and non-free repositories if you need to install packages from there.

Next, run apt-get update and then you can install whatever packages you need using apt. For instance, to install network-manager and linux-firmware-nonfree, I just did apt-get install network-manager linux-firmware-nonfree and it correctly installed both into the target environment.

To get back to the installer, type "exit" to leave the chroot environment, and then press ALT+F1. From there you can continue with grub installation as usual.

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