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So it downloaded all kinds of things (I think GNOME didn't make it, because I'm doing everything in command line atm). My router is so crappy that it loses its internet connection if I surpass 450 kB/s. I usually prevent this with wondershaper (and at the time I didn't figure to install it before installing anything else), but now the installation stopped around 17%.

So then I skipped that step and finished my installation. Upon rebooting, all I had was tty's, no sign of GNOME. Now I'm wondering what happened with that 17%. Is it just taking up space somewhere on my hard drive? Or did the installation procedure delete that 17% when it realized that step was cancelled?

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All the packages you've already downloaded are in /var/cache/apt/archives. At worst you may have to restart the downloading of the one package that was only partially downloaded (and not even that if your server allows to resume downloads). You don't need to worry about this, it'll just happen automatically.

If you ended up with partially-installed packages because of the incomplete download, run apt-get -f install. Most likely you have no partially-installed packages, but you're missing many useful packages. apt-get -f install will also finish installing packages marked for installation.

If after that you find that you're still missing some packages you want, run apt-get install gnome-desktop-environment or whatever packages you want.

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