Search this site:

Yay for Lenny! (But nay for installation media)


This blog post is not strictly speaking news anymore - But for those who don’t know it yet, three days ago Debian 5.0 «Lenny» was released, after 22 months of work (plus fun, plus flamewars, plus everything that makes a Free Software lover tick). And, of course, that makes us all very happy and proud. As always, upgrading is a breeze. Hats off specially to Wolfgang and everybody who worked towards the great release notes - No, it is not a simple task, by far. And I do feel ashamed I didn’t even beep that way :-(

So, many of us are in the middle of planning/executing our servers’ migrations. So far, I’m amazed for good. Even hairy issues such as firmware removal are magically and beautifully taken care of - i.e. my firewall kindly informed me during update that I would need to install the non-free firmware for my BNX2 (Broadcom) network interfaces, and I was just a package away from absolute happiness. Lets see what happens next Friday, as I will be upgrading our storage+application server (which is way more complex than the servers I’ve dealt with so far).

Anyway… But what good is a blog post if you are not ranting?

Many people recognize me as one of the most Debian-connected people in Mexico, and that’s very good. And yes, besides being a Debian Developer, I am a co-sysadmin for the main Debian mirror in Mexico. Some people have already asked me for CD-ROMs and DVDs. Of course, if I had a BluRay drive, I’m sure I’d also get requests for it.

People: Do you really want such media? Think again… Do you really want 31 CDs or five DVDs for your favorite architecture? Ok, maybe many will say “nah, just give me the first one” - Then, do you want to limit your Debian experience to just the software that lives on the first 1/31th (or 1/5th) of it all?

Of course there are many situations where it is desirable. Low bandwidth users, or people with no regular connectivity, will be much better served by suitable media from which to install. However, most of us (computer geeks living in Mexico City - Yes, that’s the people contacting me) have at least a 1Mbps connection at home. People, just get the Netinst or Businesscard (180 or 40MB) images and download whatever is left via the network. Debian is extremely network-friendly. And, believe me, even if packages are sorted by popularity (and that’s why most people will be happy with the first DVD if needed), you never know if you will want precisely a package that sits towards the lonely tail of popularity.

And, yes, I did have my CD images handy for the Potato, Woody and Sarge cycles - but increasingly, it became easier for me just to ask apt-get to fetch stuff from the web (which is done without me moving from my comfy chair while I do anything else) than asking apt-get to ask me to go search for the f.*ing CD which I left dont-remember-where.

Anyway… I’m not saying I won’t burn your CDs - If you want them, please tell me in advance and come to my office, I’ll be glad to give you some Debian disks. But spare the environment. We don’t need to burn more and more disks. Use the network, be a better human being!


alex_mayorga 2009-02-18 08:33:00

floppy install?

I know floppies are ancient technology by today standards, but I have a couple of Pentium III lying around here and I’d like to give Debian a shoot on these. I looked a bit on the “Debian GNU/Linux Installation Guide” at but didn’t really found anything about installing from floppy, any pointers?

David Gerard 2009-03-18 04:57:21

For floppy

@vicm3 - if you look at the FTP server you pointed at, you’ll see that there are not in fact floppy images there.

(I’m here because this page is one of the top hits on “lenny install floppy” …)

I’d just use Sarge, but there’s no install packages generally available any more. I may have to go to Etch, but I fear it doesn’t support particular buggy hardware on the machine in question. Gah …

David Gerard 2009-03-18 05:06:57

Smart Boot Manager?

It appears the reason there’s no floppies for Lenny is that the kernel is too big to fit on a floppy!

I’m going to see if Smart Boot Manager will work.

Gabriel Saldana 2009-02-17 21:07:00

you’ll need a CD anyways

Even if you download the netinst or the business card, you need a disk to burn that down and boot from there. So if you’re already going to use a CD (assuming standard CDs are more common than businesscard CDs) better fill it than waste the space.

A better approach would be if there were an easy way (as it is to burn an ISO and boot from CD) to make a bootable USB stick. That is something that you will recycle for later use, and you can easily install on those netbooks without CD drive.

garaged 2009-02-17 10:56:00

There is something about physically owning

I kindly receive a linux magazine on my home every month, it’s called linux+ (DVD) or something like that, every issue has at least 1 DVD, sometimes 2, and that’s, from what I can tell, the attraction of the magazine, it gives you a nice DVD with some linux distro every month !!

Of course, I have never even mounted one of those, and since I keep the magazines on the (guess where !) bathroom, my girls take the magazines (they now even recognize them) and pull the disc off, there are quite a few discs rounding my house, kind of sad really.

gwolf 2009-02-18 06:11:56


…And it is quite easy to do, BTW. I kept a Lenny installer snapshot on the USB key I always carry with me until I needed a block device to play with as installation destination media, and partitioned and repartitioned it until it was no longer recognizable ;-)

vicm3 2009-02-28 00:49:00

For floppy

You can download a couple of image files the size of a floppy disk or another removable media of similar small size, write them to the media, and then start the installation by booting from that.

I have more than two machines that don’t boot from usb, but for those I kept a CDRW… also for my rescue images… like RIP (that sad is to say is now really RIP as the last release has been made.)