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How to try out Debian 11 early

Looking to take Debian 11 out for a spin before it’s release? Unsure about how to install Debian 11? We can help! Follow along as we show you how to test out Debian 11 early!

Installing Debian 10 

Unfortunately, Debian 11 is not yet available for download on the official Debian website. The reason for this is that Debian 10 is currently stable, and 11 is not yet marked stable. So, to try out Debian 11, you must first install Debian 10.

There are a few ways to get Debian 10 working, but the best way to go is with the Debian 10 net installer, as it’s only a few megabytes in size and will allow you to download and install the latest Debian 10 packages.

To get Debian 10 set up, you must first create a live USB installer. To start, download the latest Etcher, install it, and launch it. Then, download the Debian 10 net installer ISO to your computer.

Once the Etcher app is installed and the net installer ISO is downloaded to your computer, launch Etcher, and use the app to flash the Debian 10 net installer ISO to USB.

After flashing the Debian 10 net installer ISO to USB, reboot your computer and load into the BIOS. Inside of the BIOS, configure it to boot from USB. Doing so will load up the Debian 10 installer.

Follow the step-by-step instructions below to install Debian 10 on your computer.

Step 1: Look through the language menu for the language you speak, and click on “Continue” to move to the next page.

Step 2: In the “Select your location” menu, find the country you live in and click on it. This menu will help Debian figure out what time zone to use. Click “Continue” to move to the next page.

Step 3: Select your keyboard language in the “Configure the keyboard” menu, and click on the “Continue” button to move to the next page.

Step 4: Allow Debian to detect your hardware and load additional components from the internet into the installer. When the process is complete, you will be asked to set up a hostname (the name for your PC). Enter it in the textbox, and click “Continue” to move on.

Step 5: Configure your root password. Be sure that this root password is secure and easy to remember. Click “Continue” to move to the next page.

Step 6: Enter the full name for your user account. Keep in mind, this is not your username, but your actual name. Press “Continue” when done to move on.

Step 7: Fill out your username. It must be in all lower-case letters. When done, click on the “Continue” to move to the next page. On the next page, fill out your user’s password. Be sure that this password is memorable and secure.

Step 8: Allow Debian to detect your disk. Then, select “Guided – use entire disk” to automatically partition your computer to use the entire hard drive. Or, if you are an expert, choose one of the other options. 

Step 9: Select your mirror from the list. Ideally, choose one that matches the country you live in. Selecting a mirror near you will make package installation much faster.

Step 10: In the “Software Selection” window, go through and choose the desktop environment you wish to use on Debian. Then, click on “Continue” to move to the next page.

Step 11: When Debian finishes installing the desktop, you will see “Install the GRUB boot loader on a hard disk.” Select “Yes” to install GRUB.

After setting up GRUB on Debian 10, reboot your system. When the system is done rebooting, log in and follow the next section to learn how to convert Debian 10 to Debian 11!

Converting to Debian 11

To upgrade to Debian 11, launch a terminal window and follow the step-by-step instructions below.

Step 1: Log in to the root account in Debian with the su command. Keep in mind that sudo isn’t available here, and su must be used, as a fresh installation of Debian doesn’t have sudo set up.

su -

Step 2: After logging in to the root account, use the apt update and apt upgrade commands to install any updates that may be pending. While there likely won’t be any updates, it’s still a good practice.

Step 3: Using the sed command, convert all of your Debian sources from Debian 10 to Debian Testing (AKA Debian 11). 

sed -i 's/buster/testing/g' /etc/apt/sources.list

Step 4: Open up the sources file in Nano and add a # line in front of the following lines of code. 

deb http://security.debian.org/debian-security testing/updates main

deb-src http://security.debian.org/debian-security testing/updates main

deb http://deb.debian.org/debian/ testing-updates main

deb-src http://deb.debian.org/debian/ testing-updates main

After editing, they should both look like:

#deb http://security.debian.org/debian-security testing/updates main

#deb-src http://security.debian.org/debian-security testing/updates main

#deb http://deb.debian.org/debian/ testing-updates main

#deb-src http://deb.debian.org/debian/ testing-updates main

Save with Ctrl + O and exit with Ctrl + X.

Step 5: Once your sources are updated from Buster to Testing (Debian 11), re-run the apt update and apt upgrade commands, as there will be many new packages to install.

apt update apt upgrade 

Step 6: Run the apt dist-upgrade to install any remaining upgrades that the upgrade command may have held back.

apt dist-upgrade

Step 7: Reboot your Debian PC, and log back in. Upon logging back in, open up a terminal window and access root once again with su.

su –

After logging in via su, uninstall all the unneeded Debian 10 packages with the autoremove command.

apt autoremove

When everything is removed, you will be running Debian 11! Enjoy!

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