Home Linux System Administration How To Install and Configure Debian 10 Buster with GNOME

How To Install and Configure Debian 10 Buster with GNOME

by schkn

This tutorial provides step-by-step instructions about how to install Debian 10 Buster with a GNOME desktop.

Debian 10 has been finally released on the 6th of July 2019, and it has come with a lot of very great features for system administrators:

  • It is now using the version 3.30 of GNOME, featuring an increased desktop performance, screen sharing, and improved ways to remotely connect to Windows hosts;
  • JDK update from the OpenJDK 8.0 to the new OpenJDK 11.0 version;
  • Upgrade to Bash 5.0 essentially providing more variables for sysadmins to play with (EPOCHSECONDS or EPOCHREALTIME for example);
  • IPtables is being replaced by NFtables, providing an easier syntax and a more efficient way to handle your firewall rules;
  • Secure boot is now enabled by default, which means that you don’t have to disable it when trying to install Debian 10 on your machine;
  • A lot of software updates: Apache 2.4.38, systemd 241, Vim 8.1, Python 3 3.7.2 and many more.

Now that you know what’s available in the brand new Debian 10 buster distribution, it is time for you to install it.

Here are the steps to install and configure Debian 10 buster

I – Create a Bootable USB stick on Linux

In order to install Debian 10 buster, you need to “flash” an ISO image to a USB stick, making it “bootable“.

The Debian 10 buster image is about 2 GB in size (if you choose to have a desktop environment with it), so I would recommand that you choose an USB drive that is at least 3GB large or more.

If you don’t have a USB drive that large, you can opt for minimal versions of Debian 10 Buster.

A USB key to flash Debian 10

In my home setup, I have an Xubuntu 18.04 instance, so this is what I will use to create my bootable image.

Steps are pretty much the same for other distributions. For Windows, you would need to use Rufus to create a bootable image.

a – Plug your USB stick in the USB port

Within a couple of seconds, the operating system should automatically mount your USB drive in your filesystem (it should be mounted at the /media mountpoint by default).

USB volume mounted automatically

b – Identify where your USB drive is mounted

To get the mountpoint of your USB drive, you can use the lsblk command.

lsblk command to detect disks

As you can see, my USB drive is named “sdb”, it has one partition (part) named “sdb1” and it is mounted on “/media/antoine/7830-961F”.

Alternatively, you could use the df command to have some information about the remaining space on your USB drive.

How to see space on a Linux system

c – Download Debian 10 Buster ISO file

Your USB is ready, now you can download the ISO file to flash your drive.

The distribution images are located here. For this tutorial, I am using the Debian 10 Buster GNOME edition for amd64 processors.

If you are more familiar with another environment like Cinnamon or KDE, they are all available in the downloads page.

Run a simple wget command on any folder that you want (my home folder in this case)

$ wget https://cdimage.debian.org/debian-cd/current-live/amd64/iso-hybrid/debian-live-10.0.0-amd64-gnome.iso

If you need a more minimal distribution, you can go for the netinst version, but desktop environments might not be included.

$ wget https://cdimage.debian.org/debian-cd/current/amd64/iso-cd/debian-10.0.0-amd64-netinst.iso
Getting Debian 10 iso file

d – Copy the image to your USB drive

To copy the image, we are going to use the dd command.

$ sudo dd if=/home/antoine/debian-live-10.0.0-amd64-gnome.iso of=/dev/sdb && sync

e – Boot on the USB drive

Now that your USB drive contains the ISO file, it is time for you to boot from it.

On most configurations, you should be able to boot on the USB by pressing ESC, F1, F2 or F8 when starting your computer.

II – Follow the Debian 10 graphical installation steps

This is the screen that you should see once you successfully booted on the Debian 10 installer.

Select the “Graphical Debian Installer” option.

Debian 10 installation first step 1

First, you are asked to select a language.

I’ll go for English for this one.

Debian 10 installation - Select a language

On the next screen, you are asked to select a location.

I’ll pick United States as an example.

Debian 10 installation - Select a location

Then, choose your keyboard layout. (don’t worry, you can change it later on if you want).

I’ll go for American English for this example.

Debian 10 installation - Select a keyboard

From there, a couple of automatic checks are done within your installation.

Debian 10 will try to load additional components from the bootable device and it will perform some automatic network checks.

After the checks, you are asked to set a hostname for your computer.

As indicated, this is the name that will be used to identify your computer on a network.

I’ll go for “debian-10” in this case.

Debian 10 installation - Select a network name

You are asked to configure the domain name for your host. You can leave this option blank.

Debian 10 installation - Select a domain name

Be careful on the next step, there is a little bit of a gotcha when it comes to root passwords.

You want to leave this option blank.

As a consequence, Debian will use the password of the user you will create in the next step to perform sudo operations.

Moreover, the root account will be disabled which is interesting for security purposes.

Nonetheless, if you want to specify a specific password for root, you can do it here, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Debian 10 installation - Select a root user and password

Click continue, and now it is time for you to specify the real name for the user.

I’ll go for devconnected but feel free to mention your real name and first name.

Debian 10 installation - Select a real name (first and last name)

Then, you have to choose a username for your host.

Devconnected will do the trick for me.

Debian 10 installation - Select a username

Then, choose a very secure password for your host.

Debian 10 installation - Select a password for the user account

Choose a time zone for your host.

Be careful on this point as time zones are very important when it comes to logging for example.

Debian 10 installation - Select a clock

From there, Debian 10 Buster will start detecting disks on your host.

Debian 10 installation - Partitions are being created

After it is done, you will be asked for a way to partition your disks.

Go for the Guided (use entire disk) version unless you have special requirements that need to setup LVM.

Debian 10 installation - Select a partition method

Select the disk you want to partition.

In my case, I have only one disk on the system, so I’ll pick it.

Debian 10 installation - Select a disk to partition

For the partitioning scheme, go for “All files in one partition“, that should suit your needs.

Debian 10 installation - Select a partition strategy

For the automatic partitioning, Debian 10 create two partitions, a primary and a swap one (when you run out of memory!)

Debian 10 installation - Finish partitioning

If you are happy with the partitioning, simply press the “Finish partitioning and write changes to disk” option.

On the next screen, you are asked a confirmation about the previous partitioning.

Simply check “Yes” on the two options prompted.

Debian 10 installation - Write the changes to disk

From there, the installation should begin on your system.

On the next step, you are prompted the choice to use a network mirror to supplement the software included in the USB drive.

You want to press “Yes

Debian 10 installation - Configure the package manager

By pressing “Yes”, you are asked to choose a location that is close to your network. I’ll use the United States in this case.

Debian 10 installation - Configure the country mirror

Then, choose a Debian archive mirror for your distribution.

I’ll stick with the deb.debian.org one.

Debian 10 installation - Configure the mirror address

If you are using a proxy, this is where you want to configure it. I am not using one, so I’ll leave it blank.

Debian 10 installation - Set the proxy details

Debian 10 Buster will start configuring apt and will try to install the GRUB boot loader on your instance.

On the next step, you are asked if you want to GRUB boot loader to the master boot record, you obviously want to press “Yes” to that.

Debian 10 installation - Install Grub boot loader on a hard disk

On the next screen, select the hard drive where you want the GRUB boot loader to be installed and press Continue.

Debian 10 installation - Select the disk where to install the grub


The installation should be completed at this point.

Debian 10 installation - Finish the installation

On the lock screen, type the password that you set up in the installation phase, and this is the screen that you should see.

Debian 10 final desktop look

Awesome! You now have Debian 10 on your instance.

But this tutorial is not over. Before continuing, there are a few minimal configurations that you want to do on your Debian 10 buster instance for it to be all correctly configured.

III – Configure your Debian 10 Buster

Before playing with your new Debian 10 buster machine, there are a few steps that you need to complete.

a – Enable unofficial Debian software download

By default, downloading Debian software (like the tools that you would find in the Software store) are disabled by default.

To enable them, head to “Activities”, and type “Software Updates”.

Software & Updates in Activities

On the next window, the first and the last checkbox should be already checked.

Check the “DFSG-compatible Software with Non-Free Dependencies (contrib)” option and the “Non-DFSG-compatible Software (non-free)” option.

Software & Updates configuration window

Click on “Close“. From there, you will be asked to confirm your choice by reloading the information about available software.

Simply click on “Reload“.

Software & Updates reload confirmation

Head to the Store by typing “Store” into the Activities search box.

If you are seeing third-party applications, it means that the previous step worked correctly.

Debian 10 store applications

b – Install wget to download files from Internet

wget is not installed by default on your instance.

$ sudo apt install wget
Debian 10 - Installing wget

c – Install your NVIDIA drivers

The NVIDIA driver installation process is pretty straightforward.

Simply run the “nvidia-detect” command in your terminal and this utility will tell you which driver you have to install depending on your graphics card.

First, install nvidia-detect

$ sudo apt install nvidia-detect 
Debian 10 - installing nvidia-detect

From there, run the nvidia-detect utility in your command line.

$ nvidia-detect
Detected NVIDIA GPUs:
02:00.0 VGA compatible controller [0300]: NVIDIA Corporation GF108 [GeForce GT 430] [10de:0de1] (rev a1)
Your card is supported by the default drivers.
It is recommended to install the

As you can see, the nvidia-detect utility states that I need to install the nvidia-driver package for my instance, so this is what I am going to do.

$ sudo apt install nvidia-driver

d – Install Dash To Dock

As a Debian user, I hate going to the top left Applications menu just to find my web browser or to browse my filesystem.

As a consequence, similarly to MacOS graphical interfaces, I would like a static application dock to be visible on my desktop, all the time.

Debian 10 - dash to dock

To install it, head to the “Store” by typing “Store” in the Applications search box. This is the window that you should see.

Debian 10 - Applications search box

Click on “Add-ons”, and then select the “Shell Extensions tab“. You should see a list of shell extensions available for your Debian distribution.

In the top search bar, type “Dash To Dock“. Click on “Install” when you found the “Dash To Dock” store item.

Finding Dash to Dock in the Shell extensions

Simply click “Install” on the next window that is prompted on the screen.

Dash to dock confirmation box

That’s it!

You now have a dash to dock on your desktop.

Debian 10 final look with theming

IV – Going Further

Your adventure with Debian 10 has only begun, but I would recommend that you start configuring your host if you plan on using it as a server.

Here’s a very good video of Linux Tex that explains all the things that you should do after installing your Debian 10 installation.

Some of the steps are already covered in this tutorial, but for the others, feel free to watch his video as it explains the procedures quite in details.

If you want to dig deeper into Linux, here are some of our recent tutorials on the subject.

They all work on Debian 10, so feel free to implement them.

Until then, have fun, as always.

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[…] How To Install and Configure Debian 10 Buster with GNOME […]

truc August 3, 2019 - 6:03 pm

Be careful you are going to crush your data!

$ sudo dd if=/dev/sdb1 of=/home/antoine/debian-live-10.0.0-amd64-gnome.iso

should be

$ sudo dd if=/home/antoine/debian-live-10.0.0-amd64-gnome.iso of=/dev/sdb1

schkn August 3, 2019 - 6:29 pm

Many thanks for the catch! It is fixed in the article now.

MicP August 4, 2019 - 2:03 am

if you copy on the first partition,
that USB key won’t boot.

Should be :

$ sudo dd if=/home/antoine/debian-live-10.0.0-amd64-gnome.iso of=/dev/sdb && sync

schkn August 4, 2019 - 8:36 am

Thank you!

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