Installation of GNU/Linux is generally straight forward except when you hit some new or obscure hardware. In comparison, MS-Windows generally comes pre-installed when a PC is purchased, hiding the effort that went into fine tuning the installation of the operating system for that particular hardware. Until GNU/Linux is commonly available pre-installed we will continue to be faced with issues relating to installation by novices (and experts!). Nonetheless, the situation is improving dramatically with the introduction of LiveCDs running Debian GNU/Linux. These allow a user to boot GNU/Linux from CD and to actually run GNU/Linux without installing anything! The user can then have the option to install if they like what they see.
For Debian GNU/Linux, installation instructions are provided by the Debian Installation Guide available from http://www.debian.org/releases/stable/i386/install. An alternative guide is available from http://www.polaris.net/~dwarf/. These provide considerable detail and are well worth the effort. Be familiar with the installation process--try it out once or twice--it doesn't hurt to practise!
In this chapter we review the installation process through examples using a number of platforms. These include common desktops, laptops, and even a different type of CPU (Sun SPARC). The aim is to install a minimal stable5.1 release from CD-ROM and then to upgrade to the unstable5.2release. If you are not connected to the Internet then you will be installing a full system from CD-ROM. This will leave you with a complete system ready for most tasks.