NOTE: This is horribly out of date. I suggest removing it for now, until someone has time to rewrite it? --DavidRamsden.

To do (random things, random order):

Installing Debian in the first place

When I install Debian, I do everything as normal but skip tasksel and dselect when it asks.
Then I make sure the system it updated and working OK, remove any unwanted packages etc.

At this stage, you'll have a minimal installation of Debian. After this, I do what the following section describes.

From stable to unstable

For the best results, upgrade your Debian install to unstable - The "bleeding edge" packages are in here and as the name suggests, it should be considered as "unstable" but from my experiences (and others) it's generally very good.

Now execute the following:
` <NoWiki>#</NoWiki> apt-get update
<NoWiki>#</NoWiki> apt-get install libc6 apt dpkg debconf
<NoWiki>#</NoWiki> apt-get -u upgrade
<NoWiki>#</NoWiki> apt-get -u dist-upgrade

Congratulations! You're now running the unstable branch of Debian - I hope.

Installing the X windows system

This part is quite easy. Run tasksel and select "X window system" and then press F to finish.
Debian will now go fetch all the packages it needs to install a basic X windows system, install them and configure them (most likey with a little help from you).

N.B. While there is nothing wrong in using 'tasksel' to do this, it should be pointed out that using the "X window system" task will install *both* KDE and GNOME. In practice, if you are only ever going to be using a window manager, to just "apt-get" that along with the package "x-window-system", and the X11 packages will be pulled as dependencies.

Believe it or not, that's that part done. It just needs some configuring

Configuring the X Window System

As soon as you edit /etc/X11/XF86Config-4, debconf will no longer write to this file so I suggest you get a near enough or working configuration using dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xfree86

To run X windows, to see if it's working, run the command startx

If all is well, you'll end up with a cursor on a screen that you can move around!

Installing a display manager and a Window Manager

A display manager is something that gives you a nice graphical login. You have a choice of xdm (old school), kdm (KDE based) or gdm (GNOME based). Take your pick and apt-get install it.

aptitude and other things

These are jayell's personal preferences.

I would install aptitude and use that instead of apt-get, it has better tracking for installed apps and has a sort of gui interface that is rather better than dselect. If you really don't like the command line synaptic is quite good though rather slow to load.

I would also install grub instead of using the default lilo. I just prefer the way it works and by using the update-grub script you do not have to worry about editing the /boot/grub/menu.lst by hand

And of course you will need to upgrade your kernel if your initial installation has a 2.2.* kernel. I use the stock debian kernels and am happy with them. If you install the kernel-image meta package for your processor, aptitude will keep you up to date with new kernels. There is guide to compiling your own kernel elsewhere on this wiki if that is what you wish to do.