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I have been trying to install debian 10 on a friend's notebook. The image file was debian-10.3.0-amd64-netinst.iso so it wants the internet to complete the install. I would have preferred to have installed an image that did not need the internet but it seems that debian needs 3 DVD size images rather than just 1 like ubuntu or mint. The notebook complained during the install that it could not find a wifi driver. Then it complained that it could not find a mirror server. It said that it would create a 'minimum' install. So eventually it finished, and upon reboot there were a few errors about iwlwifi and no gui was launched, just a debian terminal.

I have been trying to remedy the situation in three different ways, but none has worked so far.

On another PC (with linux mint) I downloaded the file firmware-iwlwifi_20190114-2_all.deb to move onto the newly installed debian. I placed the iwlwifi file on a usb stick, plugged it into the debian machine, mounted it, but could not really access the files - I think this minimal install of debian is missing some kind of proprietary driver to access the usb stick (kingston), but won't paste those error messages here for the moment.

Then in the debian terminal following these instructions I could get the machines connected with a lan cable to ping each other. That was unfortunately all I could do with the lan cable. Tried to scp the iwlwifi file into the debian machine but got

ssh: connect to host 10.0.0.20 port 22: Connection refused

I think that the 'minimum install' which debian created lacks the necessary to receive a file via scp. systemctl status sshd on the debian machine returns Unit sshd.service could not be found I think this means it cannot receive that file via scp.

Then I tried to create a network bridge on the mint machine to share its internet through the cable so that I could possibly retrieve that file with curl from the debian machine, or rerun the debian installer with that lan connection to the other notebook. Have been following these instructions to do that on the mint machine. At this point am not sure if I have not done something right on the mint machine or if the debian 'minimal install' lacks something to connect to the other machine's internet. It won't ping 8.8.8.8.

Any ideas how to get out of this catch 22 situation?

Anyway would be good to know what if these observations are because the debian install is too minimal.

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The first DVD is sufficient to install Debian, you don’t need all three.

Your best bet is probably to re-install, using the first DVD image with non-free firmware; that will get you up-and-running with iwlwifi and without requiring the Internet during installation. This image is unofficial but is still built by the Debian CD team and hosted on Debian infrastructure.

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  • Thanks, important information that only the first of the three dvds is needed. I will probably try the first dvd of the official debian and see how that goes. Maybe I'm wrong but intuition says that using the 'non-free' debian is much like using ubuntu.
    – cardamom
    Apr 11, 2020 at 18:42
  • Well the 3.7GB disk 1 worked in that it got as far as letting me install an ssh server (and a gnome desktop) all without an internet connection, then I could scp the iwlwifi into the machine
    – cardamom
    Apr 12, 2020 at 9:28

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