Install Debian 12: Step-by-Step for Beginners [+Dual Boot]

This beginner's guide explains the steps to install Debian 12 "Bookworm". The following process includes the step by step guide with screenshots and prepared to be followed by any user.5 min

Debian is a free and open-source GNU/Linux distribution. It is one of the oldest Linux distributions based on the Linux kernel. Today, Debian is known for its stability and serves as the base for many derived distributions, such as Ubuntu.

For beginners, installing Debian 12 “Bookworm” can be overwhelming due to the legacy installer and choosing the ISO files. This guide provides step-by-step instructions with screenshots to simplify the process.

Minimum System Requirement for Debian

The following are the minimum system requirements for Debian. But it can vary based on what type of box you want to set up.

Minimum RAM: 512MB
Recommended RAM: 2 GB
Processor: 1 GHz
Minimum Disk Space: 10 GB

However, a more realistic requirement for modern systems and desktops is a minimum of 4 GB of RAM, 25 GB of disk space and a CPU not older than ten years.

Install Debian 12 “Bookworm”: Steps

  • Installing Debian 12 is split into the below sections; follow them accordingly.
    • Downloading ISO files for Debian
    • Creating bootable USB
    • Prepare partition for dual-boot (optional)
    • Install Debian

Download Debian 12 iso image

Visit the following page to download the Debian .iso images.

Debian provides many types of images for installation for all architecture. If you are downloading for the first time, you might get overwhelmed with which file to download. To keep things simple, I have added the following table for you to help you to choose which .iso to download.

TypeType of imageDescriptionSizeDownload
Free+non Freenetinst CD imageMinimal Size
Requires internet connection during installation
~ 500 MBiso-cd
Free+non Freefull CDYou need the CD 1 only for basic installation~ 700 MBiso-cd
Free+non Freefull DVDYou need the DVD 1 only for basic installation~ 4 GBiso-dvd

If you want other ISO files based on architectures, visit this page and navigate as needed.

Prepare bootable USB

Write the .iso image on a USB stick. There are many ways you can do it. I would recommend using Etcher to write the image. It is available for Windows as well.

After downloading, install Etcher. And write the downloaded ISO file

Prepare a partition to install Debian 12 (for Dual boot systems with Windows)

If you are installing it in the entire disk, Or, want to partition it during installation, you can skip this step.

For those who are installing a fresh Debian 12 with Windows as a dual-boot, follow the below steps to create a partition for Linux installation.

  • To create a Windows 10 or 11 recovery disk, use a separate USB stick.
  • Insert the empty 16GB+ USB stick into the Windows 10 machine.
  • Open Control Panel
  • Search with ‘recovery’
  • Click on Create a recovery drive.
Control Panel - Recovery
Control Panel – Recovery
  • Wait till the recovery is complete. Once completed, safely remove the USB stick from the machine.
  • You can check whether the recovery stick works by booting from it to be safe.

If you already have a partition that you can use to install Debian, you may want to skip this step.

OEM-installed machines with Windows 10 typically come with two basic partitions (excluding the recovery partitions). C:\ and D:\. C Drive contains Windows 10 or Windows 11 system files, and D Drive is reserved for user data. Debian 12 needs a minimum of 30GB storage space partition, which we need to create by shrinking C:\ drive, which typically contains most of the space. Follow the below steps to create a partition for Debian.

  • Open the partition editor from the START menu by searching ‘partition’.
  • Right-click on C Drive and click ‘Shrink Volume’.
Shrink Volume
Shrink Volume
  • In the next window, you can see the available size available in MB. Enter the value as per your need in MB in the ‘amount of space to shrink in MB’.
    Tip: If you need 50 GB for partition – enter 50*1024= 51200 MB
Shrink Size
Shrink Size
  • Click ‘Shrink’ and wait until it finishes.
  • You will see an unallocated space created in a graphical display of your storage. This space would be used to install Debian. Do not format now, as the Debian 12 installer would allow you to format during installation.

The above screenshots are an example which might be different for your system.

  • Once the partition is created, plugin the USB stick into your target system and restart.
  • Press F2 or any other OEM-specific function key to enter into BIOS.
  • In the BIOS, make sure the boot priority is set to the USB stick which you created for Debian 12.
  • Press F10 in the BIOS to save and exit.

Install the system

After booting from the LIVE USB, select the Graphical Install option.

Following the on-screen instructions to choose Language, Country and Keyboard layouts.

Once the Network selection page comes, select the Wireless or Wired network. If you are using the DVD ISO file, then I recommend not to connect to any network. Because Debian mirrors are sometimes slow and delay your installation process.

Choose graphical install
Choose graphical install

Enter the password for the “root” account.

You must create one user account for Debian Linux. Enter the username and password.

Creating root account for Debian Linux
Creating root account for Debian Linux

On the partition disk page, select “Manual”.

Select manual partitioning
Select manual partitioning

When you choose manual partitioning, the installer will scan your disk and show you the entire partition table. Ensure you have EFI partition and Windows partition untouched. Select the free space which you have created earlier OR choose the existing target partition to install Debian 12.

Here’s an example:

Choose the partition for Debian 12 installation
Choose the partition for Debian 12 installation

Select and hit enter to bring up the detailed screen for that partition. Choose format the partition and mount point to root i.e. “/”. Keep all other values unchanged. Once done, select “Done setting up the partition” and hit enter.

Select the format option and mount point
Select the format option and mount point

You should clearly see the “F” and the mount point “/” beside your target partition.

Ensure only one partition have F and root mount point which is the target Debian 12 installation
Ensure only one partition has F and root mount point which is the target Debian 12 installation

Once you are ready, select “Finish partitioning and write changes to disk”. Be careful before you hit enter because it will physically make changes to your disk.

The installation will start and wait until the next prompt.

Installing Debian 12
Installing Debian 12

In the next series of prompts, choose:

  • Scan extra installation media=NO
  • Use a network mirror=NO
  • Participate in package usage survey=NO

Debian 12 features all the leading desktop environments. Choose the one you want in the below screen and click continue. On the next display manager screen, choose “lightdm” for all except KDE. If yo choose KDE Plasma, use “sddm”.

Choose the desktop environment
Choose the desktop environment

At the final screen, choose to install the GRUB boot loader to the primary drive.

Wait for the installation to finish. At the final screen, select continue, and the installer will reboot your system. Unplug the USB device.

Installation complete
Installation complete

If all goes well, you should see the Debian 12 GRUB menu. You can now login to the new Debian 12 system using the user name and password.

Debian 12 GRUB menu
Debian 12 GRUB menu

Closing Notes

I hope this guide helped you to install and configure a Basic Debian 12 “Bookworm” system. Debian is a massive operating system with many options. Try the one best for you.

If you are stuck with some errors, drop a comment below.

After completion, do try to check out our guide: 10 Things to do after installing Debian 12.


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