Debian Wheezy Installation

After several years spent with Fedora I've decided to try another Linux distribution. My choice fell on Debian that I need to learn because of my work project. The tutorial describes installation of common user applications on Debian. It also offers solution to problems I encountered after Debian Wheezy installation. Please have in mind that is written from a newbie's point of view.


  • Laptop Compaq 8510w
  • ATI RV630 [Mobility Radeon HD 2600]
  • Intel Corporation 82566MM Gigabit Network Connection
  • Intel Corporation PRO/Wireless 4965 AG or AGN

1. Creating a Bootable USB Stick with Debian

In this step we are going to create Debian USB installation stick. I am going to use Debian netinstall ISO image for installation as my connection to the Internet is reliable and fast.


1.1 Download Debian Wheezy neinstall ISO image

$ wget

1.2 Copy ISO image to USB stick

Use command df -h to check if your USB stick is not mounted. Then you can copy the image with the command below where device /dev/sdb is your USB stick.

$ sudo dd if=debian-7.2.0-i386-netinst.iso of=/dev/sdb

1.3 Start installation process

Enter BIOS and Enable option boot from the USB hard drive. Put USB stick in to a USB slot and start installation.

2. Loading Proprietary Firmware During Installation

Once Debian is being installed, installation process may stopped with the following message:

Detected network hardware.
Some of your hardware needs non-free firmware files to operate.
The missing firmware files are: iwlwifi-4965-2.ucode.

If you have such media available now insert it and continue installation.

This basically means that Debian non-free firmware is not included in Debian Installation image. Downloading and inserting USB stick with particular firmware we make our wireless network ready to operate during Debian installation.

2.1 Download non-free firmware

Use another computer to download tarball that contains firmware.

$ wget

2.2 Extract tarball and copy a directory with extracted firmware to the root of USB stick

$ mkdir firmware
$ cd firmware

$ tar zxvf firmware.tar.gz
$ mv ../firmware /media/my_usb/

Insert the USB stick to a computer where Debian installation is in progress. Select yes and continue installation.

3. Vim Editor Installation and Sudo User Configuration

Once the Debian installation is completed, make two after install steps that makes Debian tuning easier.

3.1 Install Vim editor

The vi editor is installed by default. As I prefer vim editor to old-style vi editor, we are going to install vim with the command:

$ sudo apt-get install vim

From now even we invoke vi command, vim editor is used instead of it.

3.2 Configure sudo user

From the security perspective it is recommended to use sudo command instead of working under root account permanently. We will edit file /etc/sudoers  and add a user to the file. User will have configured a set of commands that can start with sudo command.


Search for terminal in the menu on the left corner of the desktop. Open terminal and switch to a root account with su command. Type the password for root user that you chose during installation.

File /etc/sudoers should be edited only with the command /usr/bin/visudo. Issue the command and substitute word your_username with your real username. This user is configured to use all available commands.

# /usr/bin/visudo

your_username ALL=(ALL:ALL) ALL

4. Gnome 3 Forced in Fall Back Mode after Install

If your screen looks similar to mine, Gnome 3 is probably forced in fall back mode.


Picture 1 Gnome 3 in fall back mode

4.1 Check dmesg for error

$ sudo dmesg | grep radeon
[ 6.400344] [drm] radeon kernel modesetting enabled.
[ 6.421271] [drm:radeon_pci_probe] *ERROR* radeon kernel modesetting for R600 or later requires firmware-linux-nonfree.

Output is self explanatory, firmware for graphic card is missing. Get info about installed graphic card using lspci command.

$ lspci -v | grep VGA
01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] nee ATI RV630 [Mobility Radeon HD 2600] (prog-if 00 [VGA controller])

As you can see graphic card GPU ATI RV630 - Radeon HD 2600 is presented. To download required non-free firmware we must enable non-free repository.

4.2 Enable non-free repository

Edit file /etc/apt/sources.list and add the following line.

$ vi /etc/apt/sources.list

deb wheezy-updates main contrib non-free

Update the list of available packages with the command.

$ sudo apt-get update

4.3 Get info about Radeon binaries

Get info about Radeon binaries that are available in package firmware-linux-nonfree uploaded in Debian repository.

$ apt-cache show firmware-linux-nonfree | grep RV630
* Radeon RV630 ME microcode (radeon/RV630_me.bin)
* Radeon RV630 PFP microcode (radeon/RV630_pfp.bin

4.4 Install package firmware-linux-nonfree and reboot your computer

$ sudo apt-get install firmware-linux-nonfree

Reboot computer with the command.

$ sudo /sbin/reboot

5. Gnome 3 Environment Tweaking

5.1 Add Minimize/Maximize Buttons to Gnome 3 desktop windows

By default, only Close button is presented in the right corner of Gnome 3 windows. To add minimize and maximize button to windows issue the following command.

$ dconf write /org/gnome/shell/overrides/button-layout '":minimize,maximize,close"'


5.2 Install tool for adding icons to Gnome 3 menus

Alacarte is a menu editor for the GNOME desktop, written in python.

$ sudo apt-get install alacarte


Picture 2 Alacarte - tool for editing Gnome menu

6. Samba File Server Installation and Configuration

Samba file server is required for accesing Linux directories from Windows.


6.1 Samba server installation

$ sudo apt-get install samba samba-common libcups2

6.2 Samba server configuration

We will configure Samba server to allow access of all Debian users to their home directories using SMB protocol. Users can read directories and have write access to directories from a remote Windows machine.

6.3 Edit Samba configuration file

Add following lines to Samba configuration file.

$ sudo su
# vi /etc/samba/smb.conf

#"security = user" is always a good idea. This will require a Unix account
# in this server for every user accessing the server.

security = user

comment = Home Directories
browseable = no
read only = no

6.4 Create a samba user

The following command will add user brezular to smbpasswd file and ask for a new password type for the user. User brezular should be also a valid Linux user thus presented in /etc/passwd file.

$ smbpasswd -a brezular

6.5 Restart samba services

$ sudo /etc/init.d/samba restart

7. Instant Messaging Clients Installation

7.1 Install Pidgin

Pidgin is an easy to use and free chat client used by millions.

$ apt-get install pidgin-otr

7.2 Install Skype

Donwload and install Skype.

$ wget
$ sudo dpkg -i getskype-linux-deb-32

7.3 Install Konversation

Konversation is a user-friendly Internet Relay Chat (IRC) client built on the KDE Platform.

$ apt-get install konversation

8. Google Chrome Installation

8.1 Download and install Google Public key

$ wget -q -O -
$ sudo apt-key add

8.2 Add Google Chrome repository to the list of repositories

$ sudo su
# echo "deb stable main" >> /etc/apt/sources.list
# exit

8.3 Install Google Chrome

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install google-chrome-stable

8.4 Remove Firefox

$ sudo apt-get remove icewease

9. Audio, Video and Burning Software Installation

This part shows installation of multimedia applications, libraries and codecs.

9.1 Install Flash plugin

Adobe Flash Player is a multimedia platform used to add animation, video, and interactivity to Web pages. Flash is frequently used for advertisements and games.

$ sudo apt-get install flashplugin-nonfree

9.2 Install lame, mencoder and ffmpeg

MEncoder converts and encodes audio into PCM digital audio or MP3, and uses the LAME encoding engine to encode the audio in a video file into MP3. Ffmpeg transcodes any multimedia files.

$ sudo apt-get install lame mencoder ffmpeg

9.3 Install audio player Amarok

Amarok is opensource audio media player.

$ sudo apt-get install amarok

Note VLC video and audio player is automatically installed together with Amarok.

9.4 Install CD and DVD burning application K3b

K3b was created to be a feature-rich and easy to handle CD burning application.

$ sudo apt-get install k3b

10. Office Applications Installation

10.1 Install Acrobat Reader

Acrobat Reader lets you view, print, search, and share Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF).

$ wget
$ sudo dpkg -i AdbeRdr9.5.5-1_i386linux_enu.deb

10.2 Install Text Editor Kwrite

Kwrite is KDE text editor.

$ sudo apt-get install kwrite

10.3 Install File manager Krusader

Krusader is an advanced twin panel (commander style) file manager similar to Midnight or Total Commander.

$ sudo apt-get install krusader

11. Other Applications Installation

11.1 Install Wine

Wine allows to run Windows applications on Linux.

$ sudo apt-get install wine

11.2 Install Minicom

Minicom is a text-based modem control and terminal emulation program for Unix-like operating systems,

$ sudo apt-get install minicom

12. GNS3 and Associated Applications Installation

GNS3 is based on Dynamips and Dynagen (a text-based front-end for Dynamips) to create a complete virtual Cisco network, adding many additional features and most importantly making it easy to create, change and save your network topologies. It was also extended for Qemu virtualizer/emulator and VirtualBox support.

The tutorial about GNS3 and  associated software installation on Debian is here.


9 thoughts on “Debian Wheezy Installation

  1. Nice write up, very informative. The link to the GNS3 installation is missing (I think you may have forgotten to include the hyperlink under "here").


  2. If you leave the root password blank and configure a default user during installation, the root account will not be created and the user will be added to the 'sudo' group. This saves having to mess with the sudoers file after installation.

  3. 1. Most CPUs nowadays are 64 bit. Why did you choose i386 and not amd64?

    2. There is a netinst CD which includes firmware. You can find it easily and use it, choosing to allow the installation of non-free software. Then, instead of a tarball, you can install the package firmware-linux (which brings both the packages firmware-linux-free and firmware-linux-nonfree) using, say, apt-get.

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