I want preface this blog post by stating I am a Debian Linux fan. I think when set up properly, Debian can be almost unbreakable. It can run light and fast and cool, but first you have to get it installed.
I've installed numerous Debian forks and had few if any issues with them, distributions like SolusOS, Linux Mint debian, SalineOS, and Mepis. All were very solid Linux distributions and relatively easy to install. Not so with vanilla Debian.
My goal was to install Debian to a 16 gig usb stick, essentially installing Debian to an external hard drive. To start with, Debian is not as easy to find and download as say, Ubuntu. You don't go to the home page and click on the "install" button, you have to search through directories to find what you need. I began with what should have been the easiest way, the Debian Live page and Stable release. I downloaded the KDE image and burned it to a usb stick with Unetbootin and booted up the operating system. So far so good, I had a wired Internet connection that was working and the KDE desktop looked good. So I click on "install".
At first the installer looks straightforward and simple enough, asking for your keyboard choice, time location, name, password, etc., and I even got past installing the system, but then it asked for my mirror choice, which was the U.S. and then the installer choked. My guess is that after it installed the system it killed my Internet connection and I could find no way of backing up or going to the desktop to check it, I was stuck with the only option to kill the install and start over, which I did, this time using the Gnome version iso and same results, it croaked at the mirror choice with no way to get out of it except to go forward without finishing the install, then it froze at the grub install.
OK, I said to hell with that (my cussing increased a thousand fold during this experience) and I downloaded both the Xfce/LXDE and KDE Wheezy/Testing iso's. The installer seemed to be working better, but it too choked, freezing during the install applications point, both the KDE and Xfce/LXDE iso's croaked during the install process. I remind you again that I'm not a complete newbie, you can see by numerous other posts that I've had success installing quite a few Linux distributions.
OK, I said to hell with that (my blood pressure definitely rising) and I went with a net install iso. I figured if there was any possibility of saving this mess of an experiment with Debian it was with the net install. So I begin the install with the net install iso, and everything is going much better, except that it is a 3 hour process downloading the thing on high speed Internet. I use the guided install, letting Debian have its way, because 'manual' is beyond hopeless, and things seem to be going very well, except for taking all night to install. But I actually have some hope this might work.
I finally get Debian installed, though by this time I'm convinced it wasn't worth the time or effort when a hundred other Linux distributions have easier installers (and I could have installed 20 other Linux distributions by now) and a more straightforward process, and the 'fun' has still not ended. Instead of installing grub to the partition I selected, it overwrites grub on the sda hard drive so that I have to fix that on my host computer, and reinstall grub to the usb stick.
OK, it boots up, so far so good, it gave me a GUI desktop (KDE) but offered no choice in the process, so luckily I like KDE and that's not an issue, except that it gives me a broken KDE desktop, one that will only launch some applications and not others. It won't install applications outside of synaptic, gdebi doesn't work properly. Since I'm planning on using this on a laptop I install my wifi firmware, and add the multimedia repository and keyring. I'm entering phase two because though I somewhat admire the Debian philosophy of "everything open source" I have to live in the real world where codecs and flash are needed. All of those important items need installing on Debian before I can use it, but I till have a broken KDE desktop.
So I figure I might as well install the Gnome desktop and see if I can salvage this mess. Anyone in their right mind would have quit long ago, but my stubbornness and the fact I've invested all night in this mess keeps me moving forward. I'm at my last straw though, if the Gnome desktop install does not set things straight, the towel is thrown in, I'll chalk this up to a learning experience and something that teaches me greater appreciation for the numerous other Linux distributions that don't demand so much heartache to install and make them usable.
A couple of things I need to add here. I know some people have installed Debian without any issues. I also know that it is easier to install Debian to a regular hard drive than to an external one. But I also know this, Debian, with its huge number of developers, should not be behind small teams of other distributions that make perfectly easy to use installers. Sometimes just one or two developers make forks of Debian that work so much better for your desktop computer user, which brings me to my main conclusion: I don't believe Debian is meant for the desktop computer user, not vanilla Debian. It is well suited for servers, but for your everyday desktop computer user, and especially for those new to Linux--Debian is probably not for you. And I think that is a shame, because I don't believe it would be all that hard for the Debian developers to make a Debian distribution that would be great for desktop computer users. SolusOS, Mepis, SalineOS, and others have proven that Debian can be a great distribution, have an easy installer, and user-friendliness thrown in, but I don't expect it will happen. A quick visit to a Debian Forum will get you arrogant responses and general unfriendliness to put it mildly from the mere suggestion that Debian could be improved in any way, or that an easier installer would aid in its adoption.
I may update this post if I ever get Debian working properly, probably six months from now I'll have it running like a dream, but I'll never recommend vanilla Debian to anyone. There are some great Debian forks I highly recommend, such as SolusOS, but unless you want an exercise in frustration, go with something easier to install, and more user friendly out of the box. It need not be this way, I think regular Debian could pretty much run the Linux show if it had an easier installer and a ready made package of codecs to quickly find and install, but, sadly, that is not Debian.