Disk Management

Step 7: Disk Management.

The next step will be setting up the disk that will house our Debian installation.

The first question presented will offer 4 options.

  1. Guided – Use entire disk: This will wipe the entire disk and guide you through the partitioning process.
  2. Guided – Use entire disk and set up LVM: LVM stands for Logical Volume Management and makes it easier to resize partitions later.
  3. Guided – Use entire disk and set up encrypted LVM: This is the safest option, it will not only wipe the entire disk before installing, it will do a "secure" wipe of all data (this may take some time depending on the type and size of hard drive you want to use) and it will encrypt the entire disk. Without the correct decryption password (or pass phrase) none of the data on the drive can be read.
  4. Manual : Manual setup for people who are experienced and want to setup the partition scheme themselves.
Figure: Select the partitioning method.
Select the partitioning method

If you want a Dual-Boot setup 1 you will need to resize your windows partition before starting the installer. This will add a section of free (unused) space on your hard drive (make sure it's big enough to hold all data required by Debian and the software you want to use on it).

When the installer detects free space it will add the option to use that as the target to the partitioning wizard.

Figure: Guided - Use the largest continuous free space
Guided - Use the largest continuous free space

Guided - Use the largest continuous free space : This will not wipe any data, it will use the existing non-used space on the hard drive to install Debian.

For security reasons I will select option 3 : Guided - use entire disk and set up encrypted LVM).

Figure: Select the hard drive you want to install Debian on.
Select the "target" drive to install Debian on
  • IF you have multiple drives make sure you select the correct one, after the secure deletion of the data it will be too late.

The partitioning setup is an important choice, if you know what you are doing you can go for the "Separate" options (you can put parts of your data in other partitions and even on other drives. This is common practice with system administrators but for a beginner the "all files in one partition" is the better option, here you don't need to worry that you make one of the partitions too small.

The separate /home partition setup can be useful because you can have all user data on a 2nd drive or other partition so it's easier to backup or you can prevent the installer from deleting all data on that partition and use it as the /home directory for the new install.

Figure: Choose the partition scheme
Choose the partition scheme

When you are convinced you have selected the correct target drive and partition scheme you'll need to answer the following question with Yes, it it set to No by default (so you don't accidentally wipe the wrong disk).


Figure: Confirm the partition setup
Confirm the partition setup

The installer will now start to securely wipe all data on the target hard drive, this can take some time so it's the ideal moment to take a little walk or go out for a cup of coffee. If you have a fast SSD (solid state drive) this process can be pretty quick, but if you have a 1TB regular hard drive it could take several hours. You can cancel this by pressing the cancel button, but this will have a negative effect on the security of the data.

Figure: The installer is securely wiping the data on the harddrive
The installer is securely wiping all the data on the hard drive.

Once this is done the installer will as to provide a passphrase to use, make sure this is a strong password and ideally not the same as the root or user passwords. Do keep in mind that you will have to enter this password every time you boot (or restart) your computer.

Figure: Enter the encryption passphrase.
Enter the encryption passphrase.
Finally you'll see an overview of the setup that's going to be created. Since all files go into 1 partition this setup is pretty simple.
  • The hard drive (sda) will be divided into 2 partitions:
    1. primary (254.8 MB) for the /boot partition, this is not encrypted since it's used to boot the system.
    2. logical (21.2 GB) This will be the encrypted volume that will house our installation (called sda5_crypt).
  • The logical volume will also be divided into 2 partitions:
    1. / (20.7 GB) this will be the root of the entire file system (formatted as Linux Ext4).
    2. SWAP (536.9 GB) this will contain the SWAP partition (you can see swap as Virtual Memory, your system can move data from it's RAM to the SWAP).

    If you have multiple hard drives or one of the other schemes selected this will also contain them here (and you can manually configure them).

Figure: Review and confirm the partitioning scheme.
Review and confirm the partitioning scheme

The final question will again be a confirmation request before the changes are applied.

Figure: Write the modifications to disk
Write the modifications to disk

After this the installer will start to write the "base system" to the disk and then continue with Step 8: Configuring the Package manager.

1 not recommended by me