Installing Linux Using FTP

Most distributions are too large and complex to make FTP installation
practical. Installing a basic Linux system that doesn't have a GUI or
major applications is possible with FTP, however. The main
non-commercial distribution in use is Debian GNU/Linux, and this
answer describes an installation of a basic Debian system, to which
you can add other Linux applications and commercial software as

This answer describes installation on IBM-compatible machines with an
Intel x86 or Pentium processor. You will need a machine with at least
a 80386 processor, 8 Mb of memory, and about 100 Mb of disk space.
More memory and a larger disk is necessary however, for practical
everyday use.

For other hardware, substitute "-arm," "-ppc," "-m68k," or other
abbreviation in directory names for "-i386."

For detailed and hardware-specific information refer to:

* Connect using anonymous FTP to and cd to the
pub/debian/dists/stable/main/disks-i386/current/ subdirectory.
* Retrieve the binary image files for the rescue disk, and the
drivers disk. Depending on the floppy drive installed on your
machine, retrieve either the diskette images with "1200" in the
names if you have a 1.2 Mb, 5.25-in. floppy, or the disks with
"1440" in the name if the computer has a 3.25-in., 1.44 Mb floppy.
Then retrieve the base system diskettes. Note that there are 7
base system images in the 1.44-Mb set (which have a "14" in their
names) , and 9 in the 1.2-Mb set of images (which have a "12" in
their names). You will use these to create the basic installation
diskettes. If you have a Linux machine, you can use dd to write
the images to the diskettes. If you are creating the installation
diskettes on a MS-DOS machine, also download the RAWRITE.EXE
MS-DOS utility, which will copy the raw binary images to floppy
disks. Also download the install.en.txt document, which contains
the detailed installation instructions.
* Create the installation disk set on floppies using either dd under
Linux (e.g.: "dd if=resc1440.bin of=/dev/fd0"), or the RAWRITE.EXE
utility under MS-DOS. Be sure to label each installation diskette.
* Insert the rescue diskette into the floppy drive and reboot the
computer. If all goes well, the Linux kernel will boot, and you
will be able start the installation program by pressing Enter at
the boot: prompt.
* Follow the on-screen instructions for partitioning the hard disk,
installing device drivers, the basic system software, and the
Linux kernel. If the machine is connected to a local network,
enter the network information when the system asks for it.
* To install additional software over the Internet, be sure that you
have installed the ppp module during the installation process, and
run (as root) the /usr/sbin/pppconfig utility. You will need to
provide your user name with your ISP, your password, the ISP's
dial-up phone number, the address(es) of the ISP's Domain Name
Service, and the serial port that your modem is connected to,
/dev/ttyS0-/dev/ttyS3. Be sure also to specify the defaultroute
option to the PPP system, so the computer knows to use the PPP
connection for remote Internet addresses.
* You may have to perform additional configuration on the PPP
scripts in the /etc/ppp subdirectory, and in particular, the
ISP-specific script in the /etc/ppp/peers subdirectory. There are
basic instructions in each script. For detailed information, refer
to the Debian/GNU Linux installation instructions that you
downloaded, the pppd manual page (type man pppd), and the PPP
HOWTO from the Linux Documentation project,
* Once you have a PPP connection established with your ISP (it will
be displayed in the output of ifconfig), use the dselect program
to specify which additional software you want to install. Use the
apt [A]ccess option to retrieve packages via anonymous FTP, and
make sure to use the [U]pdate option to retrieve a current list of
packages from the FTP archive.
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