Installing Debian VM

Getting off the ground can be difficult. All the new vocabulary, procedures, and the excitement of getting started in web development can be overwhelming. I’ve set up this tutorial to guide you through the installation process of Debian in a Virtual Machine (VM).

Debian is a great choice for VM since it is lightweight and quick. Oftentimes VM Environments are sluggish since your local computer is actually processing data from two different desktops. By installing the LXDE version of Debian, performance can be salvaged.

Installation may seem complicated, but by following this guide you should have no problems. Should an error occur, help is available on The Odin Project’s chat room

Let’s Get Started!

Downloading the Debian LXDE Image

First, we need to download the Debian LXDE image. Open a new window in your internet browser and go to where we’ll want to click the 4th option, “Download CD/DVD Images using HTTP or FTP” (Alternatively, if you know how to use BitTorrent please follow that link)

Next, we’ll want to select the “stable” release of Debian

and download the CD version corresponding to the architecture of your computer’s processor. If your computer is less than 5 years old, you’ll most likely want to download the 64-bit “amd64” option. If you know your computer is 32-bit, download the “i386” CD image. If you have any questions regarding this, The Odin Project’s chat room is the place for help

Lastly, we’ll want to download the LXDE version

Your download should start.

Installing Virtual Box

The next step is to install Oracle’s Virtual Box. This is a program which emulates a new computer. Within the program you can install new operating systems and run them from “inside” of the operating system already on your computer. This allows a user to install and run Linux from inside of a Window’s machine. Pretty neat, huh?

To install, navigate your internet browser to and click on “Windows Hosts” if your computer is running Windows, or “OS X Hosts” if your computer is a Mac.

When the download is complete, install like any other program on your computer.

Installing Debian in Virtual Box

Now the fun really begins! When Virtual Box is installed and your Debian CD image is downloaded, you’re ready to begin. Open Virtual Box and select “New” to create a new Virtual Machine

Next, we’ll want to name our new VM Debian. Type: Linux and Version: Debian should automatically populate (change). Slide the memory size to 2048 MB and ensure “Create a virtual hard disk now” is selected. Click Create

The next window that pops up is going to help you create a new “Hard Drive” for your Virtual machine. I recommend at least 20.00 GB of space to be safe. Leave everything else default and click Create

Great! Now you have your VM Hard Drive set up and now it’s time to install Debian. On the main Virtual Box menu, click Start A new window will pop up and prompt you for an installation image. Click the folder icon and find your Debian.iso you downloaded earlier (usually in your downloads folder), then click Start

Next, select “graphical install” from the boot menu by using the up and down arrows on your computer and hit enter

**NOTE: If your mouse disappears and you need it back, hit the command button on the left side if using a Mac, or hit the CTRL key on the right side of the keyboard if using Windows.

Follow the on screen instructions to select your Language, Location, and Keyboard. The installer will do it’s thing for a few moments then prompt you for a hostname. You can leave it as debian. Click Continue. Next, if you have a domain name, enter it. If you don’t have one enter odin

Since we are running Debian in a virtual machine, these network settings don’t matter as much as if we were installing them directly to the host computer. Click continue after you’ve entered your domain name

The next step prompts you to enter a “root” password. This is your MASTER password. Enter it, then retype it and click continue

Then enter an your full name. It’s possible that this name will be shared later so if you’re sensitive to personal security please use a nickname

Next, enter your new username. Again, it’s possible that this name will be shared later so if you’re sensitive to personal security please use a nickname


Enter a password for your USER account


Configure your clock by selecting your Time Zone. Click “Continue” and the installer will run for a few moments. Congratulations! You’re well on your way to becoming a web developer! Take a step back and take a breath. See how easy this can be?

The next part of the Debian Installation is to partition the virtual hard drive. This may look and feel complicated and risky, but in reality it is very low risk since we’re running a VM. No harm can be done to your actual hard drive.

When prompted, go ahead and select “Guided — use entire disk”

Then select the only partition available. Click “continue”

Go ahead and select “All files in one partition (recommended for new users)” This will put all your files into one “hard drive” as opposed to separate “hard drives” for system files and your user files. Click “Continue”

The installer will then run some processes and present you with a confirmation screen. Click “continue”

then “yes” to write changes to the disk

We’re almost done installing Debian! After you write the changes to the disk the installer will take over for a while and copy, then install all the necessary Linux files. This will take a some time

After a few minutes you’ll be prompted to use a network mirror. Check “yes” and then click “continue”

Then choose your country, and mirror. Choose any mirror you wish, it doesn’t really matter. Click “continue.”

If you use a proxy server enter the information in the next screen. If not, leave the field blank. The installer will do it’s thing again for a few minutes. While you wait, go grab a cup of coffee. You deserve it!

When you return you’ll be prompted if you want to contribute to an anonymous package survey. Choose what you wish to participate then click “continue” The installer will resume for a minute or two.

When prompted, confirm your software selection. These features can be added at a later time, so for now just click “continue”

AAAAND now we wait (~30min). Don’t worry, the hard part is done. Hang tight and I’ll see you when the installation is finished!

When you come back, click “yes” to install GRUB and click “continue”

then select the /dev/sda/ option and click “continue”

You did it! You’ve successfully installed Debian in a Virtual Machine! Click “continue” to restart your VM

When prompted, enter your login username and password

That’s it! Now you’re ready to run Installfest. Debian’s terminal is named LXTerminal. Now — off you go! Remember to take your time with Installfest and everything should be okay!

Originally published at on February 12, 2017.

Web Developer, Marathon Runner, Coffee Drinker.