Debian 10 + Gnome Full Install On USB Impeded

Help with issues regarding installation of Debian
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tamjk
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Debian 10 + Gnome Full Install On USB Impeded

#1 Post by tamjk »

I'm an Ubuntu user who is exploring Debian and want to install Debian 10 onto a USB drive. I downloaded an ISO that has Debian 10, Gnome and non-free software for drivers, etc from here https://cdimage.debian.org/images/unoff ... so-hybrid/

I had to change the download file extension from .iso to .img so that the Ubuntu Startup Disk Creator software saw it. After making the live USB installer, I booted from it and choose the default option, i.e. run the Debian 10 live installation. After the live installer finished booting up, I clicked the button to install Debian 10. This Calamares process began a series of of steps leading to a choice of disk to install it on - see screenshot below.

Image

All the installer "sees" are the 2 SDD drives on my machine: sda (my main drive) and sdd (my backup drive). It ignores the 2 USB drives, one for the live Debian installer, the other for holding the full installation. In a way, the existence of drives sdb and sdc is implied by the sda and sdd designations - but not displayed as installation options.

lsblk output is shown below.

Image

As what I'm trying to do is a common practice among people exploring a new distro - as well as those wanting to permanently configure their live installation disk - I find it odd that I am not facilitated by the Debian 10 installer.

For good measure, I also tried the graphical and non-graphical installer options from the Debian boot menu. But the problem here is that this only seems to look in the CD drive for an installation ISO . . . No option to seek a USB drive as a location for the Debian installer exists - or at least is "seen" by the program.

Image

The installer menu is just like something 15 years ago - it all seems based on a user presenting a CD system image and no option for a USB image exists . . . Funny if not so inconvenient.

Am I missing something here ? Or does Debian only want people to have full installs on a SSD drive ? (I would think this narrow-mindedness most untypical of Debian.)

On YouTube and suchlike I see lots of installs of Debian but they nearly always use KDE as their desktop. I wonder if my choosing Gnome is off the beaten track as far as serious testing goes ? I used to like KDE in the old days on Red Hat but today I find Gnome easier to follow visually and more explicit in its functions.

tamjk
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Re: Debian 10 + Gnome Full Install On USB Impeded

#2 Post by tamjk »

SOLUTION

The problem with the Live Debian Installer not seeing my USB drives was solved by burning the Debian ISO image to a USB with Etcher https://www.balena.io/etcher, not Ubuntu's Startup Disk Creator. (Apparently most ISO burner programs only work on a given distro.) After I booted into the new installation USB and used Graphical Debian Install option (the Calamares process on the Debian 10 Live Install option still did not see the USBs ...), the install program displayed all media devices mounted including my 2 USBs.

Installation to a second USB was still a tricky and extremely slow process however. I followed this guy's procedure https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rs6sI-mav5Q after failing on my own twice. You need to let the installer format the whole USB drive for itself (a default option) and enter nothing for root and root-password.

Debian needs to sharpen its installer a bit.

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Re: Debian 10 + Gnome Full Install On USB Impeded

#3 Post by arzgi »

tamjk wrote: 2021-08-02 23:41 Debian needs to sharpen its installer a bit.
Or perhaps read some info, it is all available for free, like https://www.debian.org/releases/buster/

I have never had any problems installing Debian. I have never used Ubuntu.

EDIT: typos corrected

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Re: Debian 10 + Gnome Full Install On USB Impeded

#4 Post by ticojohn »

arzgi wrote: 2021-08-03 14:26 I have never had any problems installing Debian. I have never used Ubuntu.
EDIT: typos corrected
I also have never had a problem with the Debian installer. And I installed Debian Jessie on a USB stick with no problems. I'm not going to point fingers, but the official Debian documents have always been my go to place to see how to correctly install the products. And as to Ubuntu, I tried it one time and the first automatic upgrade crashed the system. The only problem I ever had with Debian was caused by me.
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Re: Debian 10 + Gnome Full Install On USB Impeded

#5 Post by trinidad »

I only use dd and/or net-install ISOs to install Debian. All these USB installer ideas never work across the board. If it's not a new stick, format the whole stick to FAT32 first, then let the installer do the rest, it will offer you options for partitioning formatting and boot.

The list of serious errors & bugs is gargantuan for current Ubuntu LTS. The UUID stuff is unforgivable in my opinion given its purpose. Installers that incorrectly designate the UUID for swap, and can't read full RAM arrays. Crap really. Dbus overwrites and IO errors and incomplete kernels. You can keep it. I'll take Debian stability any day.

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tamjk
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Re: Debian 10 + Gnome Full Install On USB Impeded

#6 Post by tamjk »

I have never had any problems installing Debian. I have never used Ubuntu.

Maybe there's a connection between existing Ubuntu systems and the fact that the new addition to the grub loader is for Debian.

My trouble is that after every longwinded installation to a new USB, the Debian 10 system won't boot although it's listed as an available option on the boot menu.

As I understand it, after installation of Debian to the USB, the grub loader should have both a new entry and a location on the Debian USB drive from which to boot. It does not have the latter. So it immediately goes to the Dell Disk Checking program.

As for Debian documentation: https://www.debian.org/releases/buster/ ... e-bootable

This page is scant enough on how the boot loader is adapted to the new installation.


6.3.7.1. Detecting other operating systems

Before a boot loader is installed, the installer will attempt to probe for other operating systems which are installed on the machine. If it finds a supported operating system, you will be informed of this during the boot loader installation step, and the computer will be configured to boot this other operating system in addition to Debian.

Note that multiple operating systems booting on a single machine is still something of a black art. The automatic support for detecting and setting up boot loaders to boot other operating systems varies by architecture and even by subarchitecture. If it does not work you should consult your boot manager's documentation for more information.

6.3.7.2. Install the Grub Boot Loader on a Hard Disk

The main amd64 boot loader is called “grub”. Grub is a flexible and robust boot loader and a good default choice for new users and old hands alike.

By default, grub will be installed into the Master Boot Record (MBR), where it will take over complete control of the boot process. If you prefer, you can install it elsewhere. See the grub manual for complete information.

If you do not want to install grub, use the Go Back button to get to the main menu, and from there select whatever bootloader you would like to use.


In my installations, the Debian installer presented no information on other systems installed on my PC and no alternatives for placing the boot record.
It just grandly declared it was installing the Grub loader on a hard disk and started doing this slowly.

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Re: Debian 10 + Gnome Full Install On USB Impeded

#7 Post by ticojohn »

tamjk wrote: 2021-08-03 17:05
As I understand it, after installation of Debian to the USB, the grub loader should have both a new entry and a location on the Debian USB drive from which to boot. It does not have the latter. So it immediately goes to the Dell Disk Checking program.
Biggest problem I ever had with a Debian install was trying to get it to install on a Dell laptop. Never could get it to work. IMO Dell is not the best option for trying to install Debian. Not saying it can't be done, as many people have done it, but it is a pain in the back side.
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Re: Debian 10 + Gnome Full Install On USB Impeded

#8 Post by sunrat »

tamjk wrote: 2021-08-03 17:05In my installations, the Debian installer presented no information on other systems installed on my PC and no alternatives for placing the boot record.
It just grandly declared it was installing the Grub loader on a hard disk and started doing this slowly.
If you choose Advanced Options in the installer it allows you to choose the location to install GRUB or to not install GRUB at all.
From other posts in the forums, a common problem is when the HD is default set to use RAID where it should be ACPI.
And people often trip up on the incorrectly attempting to install in UEFI mode when BIOS/UEFI setup is set to Legacy MBR (or CSM) mode rather than UEFI mode, or vice-versa.
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tamjk
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Re: Debian 10 + Gnome Full Install On USB Impeded

#9 Post by tamjk »

I have isolated the issue to the fact that my Dell laptop boots via UEFI and UEFI requires that all bootable partitions have a boot flag indicator so the Grub loader know where to go for that system.

No bootable flag was on my USB installation.

Also other issues regarding visibility of partitions, commands for toggling the boot flag, etc, etc.

I saw no Advanced Options displayed pertaining to the grub boot loader during the biblical installation process.

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Re: Debian 10 + Gnome Full Install On USB Impeded

#10 Post by sunrat »

tamjk wrote: 2021-08-04 13:27I saw no Advanced Options displayed pertaining to the grub boot loader during the biblical installation process.
Just noticed you used the live install image. It uses Calamares installer which is more limited than that on the full install image or netinstall.
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Those who have lost data
...and those who have not lost data YET ”
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tamjk
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Re: Debian 10 + Gnome Full Install On USB Impeded

#11 Post by tamjk »

The Calamares installer (as I understand it) is only used when you boot into the live Debian option and then click on the Install Debian button.

I had no success seeing USB drives with that before or after burning my installation USB with Etcher.

So I followed the standard installation advice and chose "Graphical Debian Install" option from the Debian boot menu.

In my recent tedious experiments I also noticed that having a Debian installation recorded as a boot option (although the PC can't actually boot off it) prevented me from attempting another Debian installation. How did it prevent it ? By not accepting my (very correct) WiFi password so I could get a network link. It seems to be associating the existing failing-to-boot Debian installation with that password. By going on F2 boot options and doing a default restore, i.e. only booting from actual bootable partitions it sees, the Debian entry was removed form the boot options and I could reuse my WiFi password.

I also used parted -s /dev/sdc set 1 boot on to get a boot flag put on my USB Debian installation but to no effect.

tamjk
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Re: Debian 10 + Gnome Full Install On USB Impeded

#12 Post by tamjk »

I tried to manually partition the USB and I applied the same type of partition for the bootable zone as I had on my SSD drive for Ubuntu.
All seemed installing well till late into the Install The System process I get the message below.

IMG_20210804_185218.jpg

I think I have done enough for the Debian community as far as installation of Debian 10 is concerned.

It's amazing how nobody ever thought of devising a reliable means whereby interested users could explore Debian on a USB stick over a few months.
It's kinda like MariaDB expecting users to suddenly change their port 3306 from MySQL to a new unknown package.
I suppose some sales managers feel they have to be almost delusional in their self-belief to convince their staff to push a product.

I am now off to try installing Pop!OS for a bit of recreation.
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tamjk
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Re: Debian 10 + Gnome Full Install On USB Impeded

#13 Post by tamjk »

Well, I tried installing:

* Pop!OS - Apparently some problem with this "commercial" distro that showed up during installation when some package wouldn't open . . .

* Deepin - I was unable to install it into any USB since it needed a 60 GB minimum space . . . A pity as it's looked beautiful.

* Elementary OS - Looked so old Mac-like that I stopped the install.

* Garuda - Installed and explored a bit though this was hard owing to the dark themes and icons, the renaming of pretty standard packages with ghoulish names (e.g. FireDragon browser). This might be fine for pre-adolescents but I soon found it pretentious.


I'm not quite sure how I did it but I got Debian in finally.

After changing the USB from that one used previously (though I doubt if the hardware was so much the problem as the size of the partitions I'd used in previous valiant installation efforts) the crucial steps were:

1. During the Graphical Debian Install, doing manual partitioning of the USB onto which Debian was to be installled.
2. Making the first (i.e. boot) partition ESP and setting its boot flag on.
3. Ensuring that the second partition on my installation USB was as big as possible and greater than 10 GB.
In the case of a 15 GB USB this meant having ~13 GB for this partition.
4. Having a third partition as a swap area with ~ 1 GB of space.

These arrangements meant for a much faster install.

I hope this experience informs not only newbies to Debian but also those responsible for designing Debian installation processes. Whatever crazy auto-partitioning was done by the installer, it certainly did not take into account the UEFI requirements of the boot process on the PC - something that an installer should be able to read from the attached drives.

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