Installing Debian with VirtualBox

Discussion in 'macOS' started by Boksney, Dec 5, 2008.

  1. Boksney macrumors newbie

    Nov 25, 2008
    I have the need to run Debian on my MacBook and have been told that the best way to do this would be through VirtualBox. I have downloaded and installed VirtualBox. Now.. I have no idea of what to do - I'm not too experienced when it comes to installing operating systems beyond OS X and Windows.

    When looking at the Debian website, there are several ways to download Debian and several kinds of images (alpha,amd64,hppa,i386,ia64,mips,mipsel,powerpc,sparc). I have no idea which of these I should download and how to get it working properly with VirtualBox. I'm running 10.5.5.

    Also, if this matters, I'm installing Debian to create a repository for Cydia.. I'm not sure if that alters how I need to install it.
  2. BobZune macrumors 6502a

    Oct 26, 2007
    Basically, a virtual machine (VM) is similar to a physical machine, but "in software" running on the host machine (your Macbook with OS X) which virtualizes the hardware for a Guest machine (Debian, in your case), so the guest machine thinks it is running on real hardware.

    You may want to read (at least browse, and study the relevant parts of) the VirtualBox manual from

    For Debian, you'd want the i386 version (the default 32 bit version is the most widely used, and i386 is the Intel architecture since you are running it on a MacBook with the right Intel processor). You can try the minimal bootable Debian version image and then use it to get the other parts through the Internet (this assumes your network connection works in the virtual machine - and it should). If not, you may want to get the DVD version -- either buy, or using bittorrent etc. Help with Debian install is at

    Using a VM needs a slight mental adjustment to realize what's happening -- and it is not all that complicated from a user perspective. Having a significant amount of memory on the host machine helps -- in your case, if you have less than 1 GB RAM, I'd suggest at least that amount (possibly 2 GB if you don't consider too expensive an upgrade). Give at least 256MB to Linux (preferably double that).

    Good luck!
  3. Boksney thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 25, 2008
    Okay, so I clicked on the i386 download under the netinst part of "stable" release, and now I see this directory:


    Which one should I download?
  4. BobZune macrumors 6502a

    Oct 26, 2007
    If you want the CD based distribution, it will be the CD-1 through CD-21 (yes, 21 CDs). For a minimal installation (to get started small and get other things later), you might want the netinst version - the 162MB version. See also for a bit more on it.

    The other option is to get the DVDs 1 to 3 (over 4GB each). Looks like you'd have to do a bit of reading (depending on your current skill level, and since you are undertaking a fair sized project), installing, reading some more and getting the right packages and installing (if you start with a minimal system) to get it all set up the way you want. Once set up properly, it should be very reliable.
  5. priller macrumors regular

    Dec 15, 2007
    Downloading all 21 cd's is a complete waste of time since you'll never install most of the software.

    I normally use the businesscard iso to install the basic system & just install the extra packages I need with apt.

    If Sun have added VT-X support them amd64 will work (already works in fusion) since the C2D are 64bit (emt64/amd64).

    Debian is very light on ram so for what you're doing giving 256mb to the guest will be plenty, you'll probably be fine with giving 128mb to the guest.

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