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Install Debian 10 Buster on VirtualBox

by | Last Updated: Mar 24, 2023 | LINUX, VIRTUALIZATION

Debian is one of the oldest (project started in 1993) and most stable operating systems in the Linux family. It is considered to be the universal operating system. Like many other Linux distributions, it comprises free and open-source software developed by the community-supported project. Stability and over 59000 packages available for download and install, make Debian one of my favorite Linux distros. Debian has been distributed freely over the internet.

In this article, I will walk you through step-by-step process to install Debian Linux on VirtualBox. Buster is the code name for Debian 10. Therefore, we call it Debian 10 (Buster). Read the release notes for more information as to what is included in Debian 10. Let us see the process to download and install Debain Linux.


Before we begin, ensure that you have the following:

  • A computer with VirtualBox installed.
  • Debian 10 Linux ISO file.
  • Sufficient storage space on your computer.
  • A working internet connection.

Download Debian Linux

Before we download the Debian OS image, we may need to consider the following points:

The 32-bit processor or 64-bit processor: Debian is available to download for both 32-bit and 64-bit. It is very important to know what processor type on your PC/Laptop/Server is available (32-bit or 64-bit). A 64-bit Debian Linux image may not work on a 32-bit processor system. Today, most Laptops and PCs come with a 64-bit processor. It is recommended to use a 64-bit Debian image if possible.

If you are using Windows OS, you may want to see system settings to find your system processor type.

Windows 10 System Settings
Stable / Testing / Unstable Distribution: There are three distributions of Debian. Stable, Testing, and Unstable.

Stable: The whole point of Debian from day one was “STABLE”. This is the production release of Debian which means that it is the most stable distribution of Debian. Click Here to download Debian “Stable”.

Testing: The testing distribution contains bundles/packages that have not been acknowledged into a STABLE release yet. The main benefit of using this “Testing” Distribution is that you may get a more recent version of the software. It is not suggested to use this distribution in production. Click Here to download Debian “Testing”.

Unstable: This is the most updated but as the word shows, it could be unstable. Generally, this distribution is used by developers who are actively developing Debian.

In this step-by-step tutorial, I will use 64-bit Debian “STABLE”. Click Here to download it from Debian official website.

Download 64-bit Debian Linux

Click on amd64, to download the official netinst image for the “stable” release. Netinst image is the smallest possible image that contains a small set of packages. This CD includes only the minimum tools required to continue downloading and retrieve the remaining packages on the Internet.

Install Debian Linux

Creating Virtual Machine

Click on NEW to create a new virtual machine.

virtualbox manager

Provide Name, select Type, and Version.

create debian virtual machine

Select RAM. The hardware requirement is not 4GB. However, I am reserving 4 GB for my virtual machine.

select virtualbox ram debian

Select Create a virtual hard disk now and click Create.

virtualbox select hard disk

Select VMDK (Virtual Machine Disk) and click Next.

virtualbox hard disk file type

Select Dynamically allocated and click Next.

virtualbox dynamically allocated hard disk

Select 20 GB for hard disk and click Create.

virtualbox hard disk size

The Virtual Machine is now created, and we can click on Start to start installation.

run debian virtualbox

Click on the Folder Icon to add and select startup-disk.

virtualbox select startup disk

Select start-up disk and Click Start.

virtual box add iso
virtualbox select iso

Debian Linux Installation Process

Select Graphical Install from the menu and press Enter.

virtualbox debian graphical install

You can choose any language from the available languages to continue with the installation. This selected language will also be the default language for the installed system. Select English Language and click Continue.

virtualbox debian select language

Country selection is important for time-zone settings. Select the Country where you live and click Continue.

virtualbox debian select country

Configure the Keyboard by selecting the keymap to use. Select American English and click Continue.

virtualbox debian select keyboard

Configure Network in Debian Linux

The hostname is important as it identifies your system to the network. Configure the Hostname (for example Debian) and click Continue.

virtualbox debian hostname

After the hostname, you should configure the domain name. Since I am using this Debian VM in my test network, I can configure any domain name for the time being. However, in production, you may want to consult the system administrator. So, this virtual machine can be identified over the network by its Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) which is


virtualbox debian domain name

Set up Users and Passwords

The root is the most critical and important user on any Linux system. You need to set a password for ‘root’. This is a system administrator account and the password for this account should not be easy to guess.

If you don’t configure the ‘root’ password here, the root account will be disabled and the system’s initial user account will be given the power to become root using the sudo command.

virtualbox debian root password

All non-administrative tasks should be completed by a non-root user account. This user can also give root privileges to perform certain tasks.

Type Full Name for the new user and click Continue.

virtualbox debian user full-name

Select the username for the created non-root user. This username should start with a lower-case letter, which can be followed by any combination of numbers and more lower-case letters. Type your username and click Continue.

virtualbox debian create user

A good password will always contain a mixture of letters, numbers, and punctuation and should be changed at regular intervals. Choose a password for the new user you just created and click Continue.

virtualbox debian user password.

Select Your Time Zone and click Continue.

virtualbox debian select timezone

Let it load and configure components.

virtualbox debian additional components

Partition Disks in Debian

There are different standard schemes to partition disks. If you are an expert and know how to deal with disk partitions, then select Manual. Otherwise, for the sake of simplicity, select Guided – use the entire disk.

Select Guided – use the entire disk and click Continue. This is recommended for new users as it will automatically create the required partitions for you.

virtualbox debian partition disks

There is currently only 1 hard disk installed in our VM. Therefore, select the available Disk to Partition and click Continue.

virtualbox vbox hard disk

Select the partitioning scheme and use the first option “recommended for new users”. Click to continue to move forward.

virtualbox debian select partition

As you may see, on our selected hard disk, 2 partitions have already been created.  Now, select Finish partitioning and write changes to the disk and click Continue.

virtualbox debian root swap partition

Write the changes to disk, select Yes, and click continue to format the two partitions as ext4 and swap.

virtualbox debian partitions

Let Debian Install the base system.

virtualbox debian install base system

Currently, we do not have any other CD or DVD to scan. You may select No and click Continue.

virtualbox debian configure package manager

Configure Package Manager in Debian

Now, you have to select the country which you want to fetch packages from. Select Debian archive mirror country and select Continue.

virtualbox debian select country package manager

Now you may select the Debian archive mirror. Select and select Continue.

debian archive mirrors

Right now, we have no proxy configured so you may leave it empty and click Continue.

virtualbox debian http proxy

Let the Debian configure package manager.

virtualbox debian configuring apt

This popularity contest is optional. Select Yes if you want to participate. Otherwise, select No and click Continue.

debian popularity contest

By default, Debian comes with the GNOME desktop environment. If you need to install any other environment in addition to it, please select it and click on Continue.

As a personal choice, I also select the MATE desktop environment. If you install two desktop environments, you can choose between them while logging in to the system.

debian desktop environment gnome mate

Install the GRUB boot load on the Master Boot Record (MBR). Select Yes and click Continue.

debian grub boot loader

Select the existing hard disk to install GRUB as shown in the picture and click Continue.

debian install boot loader

Installation is completed. You may now click Continue.

debian installation complete

The machine will boot, and you may use your created username/password to enter into Debian Linux.

debian select bootup
debian buster bootup
debian login screen
debian enter password

Congratulations! You have successfully installed Debian 10 Linux on VirtualBox.

The Upshot

  • Debian Linux is freely available to download and install. In addition, VirtualBox is also freely available.
  • It is recommended to use the Debian “STABLE” release of the distribution in production.
  • Most of the systems have 64-bit processors, therefore, you should download and use 64-bit Debian Linux.

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