Debian 8.0 Jessie Released – Fresh Installation Guide and Upgrade Debian Wheezy to Jessie

April 25, 2015 marks a new major release for the popular Debian Linux distribution. Codenamed Jessie and chalk full of upgrades, this release offers some welcomed enhancements as well as software updates. This guide will walk through both a fresh installation of this new operating system as well as an upgrade from Debian 7wheezy‘ for those who would rather upgrade than re-install.

With this new release comes quite a bit of new functionality. One of the most welcomed changes is an updated kernel. Wheezy (Debian 7) was still running 3.2 but now with Jessie (Debian 8) the jump to 3.16 has brought some wonderful hardware support! Also included in this new update was the much debated Systemd and init system.

The new default installation for Debian is to install Systemd which caused quite a rift in the community and lead some of Debian’s followers to leave and start a new project known as Devuan (Debian Forked over systemd: Birth of Devuan GNU/Linux).

However, Debian does retain the ability to still use different init systems and this guide will walk through how to install Debian with the older SysV init system as well as the default of Systemd.

Release Enhancements

  1. Updated Kernel (3.16).
  2. Mate, Cinnamon, XFCE desktop environments are available directly from the installer.
  3. Support for a wide range of architectures including PowerPC, MIPS, I386, AMD64, AArch64, and others.
  4. Samba 4, PHP 5, Xen 4.4.
  5. New version of GIMP, LibreOffice.
  6. Tons of others that can be found here:
System Requirements
  1. Minimum RAM: 256MB.
  2. Recommended RAM: 512MB.
  3. Hard Drive space: 10 GB.
  4. Minimum 1GHz Pentium processor.

Debian 8.0 Jessie Installation Guide

This portion of the article will focus on a fresh install of Debian 8. For those wishing to simply upgrade from Wheezy, please skip to the “Upgrading from Debian 7 (Wheezy)” section below. The installation of Debian 8 follows very closely to the installation of other variants of Debian. The big changes will be noted and displayed as the occur.

1. First go to Debian download page. This page will allow the user to select from the installation CD or DVD.

The DVD tends to contain a Live version of Debian as well as the necessary installation utility. Be sure to pick the proper architecture for the PC on which Debian will be installed!.

2. Use dd command to copy the newly download ISO to a USB stick or use burning software to burn the ISO to a CD/DVD (software such as K3B or Nero can accomplish this task).

The easiest method however is the Linux dd utility and a USB stick. The command syntax is very simply but take extra caution to make sure that the proper arguments are provided. To accomplish this, change directory to the Downloads folder.

Download Debian 8 Jessie

Download Debian 8 Jessie

Then plug in a USB drive that doesn’t contain any important data. This process is destructive! All data on the USB drive will be removed. Determine the hardware name for the newly inserted USB drive using lsblk command.

# lsblk
Check USB Device Name

Check USB Device Name

In this example, /dev/sdc will be used to create the bootable Debian installation media. Now it is time to build the dd command to copy the ISO to the USB drive (You can’t simply copy the ISO file to the USB drive, it will not boot)!.

$ sudo dd if=debian-jessie-DI-rc3-amd64-CD-1.iso of=/dev/sdc bs=1M
Create Bootable USB Using dd Command

Create Bootable USB Using dd Command

dd command will not provide any feedback that anything is happening. If the USB drive has an LED indicator, look at the light and see if the light is flashing. dd will finish and return the user to the command prompt after it completes.

Be sure to safely eject/remove the drive from the machine. Linux has a tendency to cache data and write it later! Now that the flash drive is ready, it is time to put the USB drive into the computer and boot to the Debian installer.

3. The installer will boot to a Debian splash screen that provides several options for advanced installation options.

Debian 8 Boot Menu

Debian 8 Boot Menu

4. Use the keyboard to select the boot option desired; For now the Graphical Install will be used since most users are comfortable with a mouse.

This will boot Debian into the installer. The first few options will require the user to select the keyboard and localization to use. The next step is to set your computer’s hostname and allow the installer to setup a network connection for access to the software repositories.

Set Hostname for Debian 8 Jessie

Set Hostname for Debian 8 Jessie

5. After hostname configuration, the system will ask the user to create a ‘root‘ user password. Be sure to not forget this password as it is not a fun process to try to recover!

Create and Set root User Password

Create and Set root User Password

6. After the root user configuration, a normal non-root user will need to be configured. This should be something different than ‘root‘ for security purposes.

Create Non Root User

Create Non Root User

7. After the root and non-root users are setup, the installer will attempt to download some packages from the repositories and as such, a network connection is very helpful (however, it isn’t necessary and the installer will install the base system regardless).

Now the installer will prompt the user to set up the partition scheme to be used on this system. For most normal installations, the “Guided – Use entire disk” option will suffice but do realize that this will overwrite all data on the disk!.

Select Guided Disk Partitioning

Select Guided Disk Partitioning

8. The next page will ask the user to confirm the partition changes, write the changes to the disk, and begin the installation process of the base files of Debian.

If the changes look fine and the appropriate root partition and swap space exist, click “Finish partitioning and write changes to the disk”. The next part will take some time so grab a quick beverage and come back in about 5 minutes.

Write Changes to Disk Partitioning

Write Changes to Disk Partitioning

9. The next window will ask if the user wishes to participate in Debian’s anonymous statistics gathering. This is a personal preference and is used to help guide Debian’s package decisions. This can be reconfigured later if the user decides later that an opt out or in is desired.

Configuring Popularity Contest

Configuring Popularity Contest

10. The next step is to inform the installer to use a network repository to gather the rest of the necessary packages during installation rather than from the CD/DVD. Be sure to pick one that is close to the current location of the machine other wise the downloads can take substantially longer.

Configure Jessie Package Repository

Configure Jessie Package Repository

11. At this point the installer will prompt the user for any extra packages to install. This is one of the neat changes with Jessie. While a trivial change, the system now gives the option to install quite the range of different desktop environments directly from the installer.

A personal favorite is Cinnamon and it has been installed on a few of Debian systems now but do bear in mind that it does require some extra hardware resources when compared to the lightweight variants such as XFCE.

Jessie Package Selection

Jessie Package Selection

Depending on what is selected here, the installation could take several more minutes or be relatively quick. The more options selected here, the more packages that will need to be downloaded and installed. Regardless when this finishes, the installer will ask where to install grub (bootloader). Typically this is on ‘/dev/sda‘ but systems due vary based on user preferences.

12. Once grub finishes the installer will ask to reboot into the new operating system. Click okay and remove the USB media when the machines restarts. If all went well, the next screen seen will be:

Debian Jessie Login Screen

Debian Jessie Login Screen

Welcome to Debian 8Jessie‘! Time to log in, update any new packages, install more packages, and customize the new Operating System.

It is recommended that users do check for new updates even after a fresh install as there may be some security fixes in the repositories that aren’t yet in the ISO file downloaded. To do this update, issue the following commands as root or with the ‘sudo’ utility:

# apt-get update
# apt-get upgrade

Enjoy the new fresh install of Debian 8!

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Rob Turner

Rob Turner is an avid Debian user as well as many of the derivatives of Debian such as Devuan, Mint, Ubuntu, and Kali. Rob holds a Masters in Information and Communication Sciences as well as several industry certifications from Cisco, EC-Council, ISC2, Linux Foundation, and LPI.

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4 Responses

  1. Ram says:

    Install the GRUB boot loader on a hard disk failed

  2. kundan kumar says:

    what will happen if i choose not to use network mirror? if i have no internet connection? why would i get stucked on ” failed to start braille device support ” ?

    • Rob Turner says:


      Without a network mirror, you will have to provide all the extra packages for Debian manually. I would strongly recommend you use a network mirror. As for why the braille device would fail to start, I am not sure without seeing log information. If you’re not using a network mirror, there is a possibility that a necessary package is missing from your installation as well.

  3. David says:

    Installing Debian 8 Jessie in VMware Workstation Video

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