Installing Debian 12.5 On Laptop From USB Drive – Hint: Need 1 Partition

I wanted to install Debian 12.5 on my old laptop.

Download Debian

I discovered the place to download Debian:

Next, I plugged in my 64GB flash drive and followed the steps at

However, it didn’t work.  Well, it actually worked — I was able to boot from the USB stick and the Debian installation seemed to start.  But as soon as I started the graphical installation I got a cryptic error that stated something wasn’t right.

USB Drive Must Be One Partition

I discovered that before following the steps above, the USB drive must be just one partition.  I had no idea how to get my USB partitioned properly.

Partitioning The USB Drive

I found the following link which shows how to partition the USB flash drive:

That was really helpful because it pointed me to the parted app.  Note: I used the gpt formatting.

However, I was a bit confused and didn’t want to damage other disks so I pointed parted at /dev/sda1 and that wasn’t quite correct.

Finally, I guessed and ran parted on /dev/sda (which was a bit scary — and I had no other USB flash drives mounted.

Drive Not Recognized

Once I did that though, Ubuntu 22.04.4 LTS wouldn’t recognize the drive when I plugged it in again.

Determine Which Drive Is Which

I then found the following link that shows you how to determine which drive is which.

I used the command:

$ sudo fdisk -l

to determine which one was the flash drive I was trying to deal with (64 GB).

Running that command lists all the disks and the last one looked like this:

Disk /dev/sda: 57.3 GiB, 61524148224 bytes, 120164352 sectors
Disk model: SanDisk 3.2Gen1
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disklabel type: gpt
Disk identifier: 643B0225-84B1-<obfuscated>

I could tell that was the one I was looking for (by its size).

One Partition

That last command created one partition across the entire flash drive so I guessed I was set to go.  Since the next command requires that the drive isn’t mounted I was ready to run the command to copy the iso file.

I then ran the suggested cp (copy) command and the sync command from the Debian install site.

$ cp debian-12.5.0-amd64-netinst.iso /dev/sda

$ sync

I went to my target laptop and plugged the drive in and booted up.

The Debian installation went great.  (More about that soon — related to getting my account set up to be able to run commands via sudo.)

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