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nihilist@mainpc - 2024-06-16

How to install Linux from a Windows PC

In this tutorial, we're going to look at the first and foremost thing anyone can do to remove surveillance from their digital lives, by installing a free and open source software (FOSS) host operating system: Linux, in this case we're going to setup the latest Debian.

Why should Bob install Linux?

So here we are Bob, and we have decided that having an entire crowd watching what we were doing with out computer was no longer acceptable. What can we do from here ?

Bob, after searching for a while on the web, Bob realized that Windows was the problem here. Because it is closed-source (meaning the source code is not available) he couldn't know what Windows was doing in the background. Because that is so, Bob is now certain that his Operating System could be used for surveillance, without him being aware of it.

"What the hell can I do on Windows privately then ?", Bob thought for a while.

"... Nothing!", He realized. While he was using windows, he would never have any privacy with his digital life.

Allegory: You have a house, and you have an annoying neighbor (Jack) that wants to know everything you do in your House. If you have windows installed on your computer as a host OS, it is the same as leaving the front door wide open for Jack to enter and watch what you're doing in your house, no matter how much you try to barricade the windows, or the doors. It makes more sense to try and barricade the front door first, before trying to barricade the windows and other rooms in your house, isn't it ?

So Bob looked for an open source operating system to replace Windows, and he found the Linux sourcecode, he read the entire code and found no spyware in it. Then he decided that he would use that instead of using Windows.

Because it is through Windows, that Microsoft employees are able to spy on what Bob was doing so far! By removing windows from the equation, he is also removing Microsoft's surveillance from his digital life!

Bob has decided that he would use Linux from now on, because he is no longer tolerating being watched by an entire crowd, without his consent.

How to create a Debian USB installer from Windows?

First Bob, goes on the web to find a Linux distribution he likes, that is Open Source:

He sees there are many options like Linux Mint, Ubuntu, etc

But he settles on Debian. (Disclaimer: if you use closed-source hardware, like 99.9999999999% of people out there, you will invariably have to use non-free firmware too [1] [2] [3]). If you want a purely FOSS host OS, and you are willing to not have firmware for your CPU, GPU, Motherboard, Ethernet/wifi, check out the OSes recommended by the Free Software Foundation [4] (but it will be at the expense of having your peripherals not working [5]). The status of Open source Hardware is not even competitive in this closed-source hardware domination of the market., hopefully this will change in the future, but for now that's how it is. TLDR: If you don't want to install proprietary firmware, check out PureOS instead of debian.

Now Bob has the Debian ISO image.

But now he needs to put that ISO image on a USB stick. To do so he can use Rufus or Balena Etcher:

So Bob installs BalenaEtcher:

Once installed, he selects the ISO image in balenaetcher:

Then, Bob plugs in his USB stick in his computer, to be able to put the ISO image into it:

Then, Bob selects his USB stick from balenaetcher:

Then he clicks "Flash", that way Balenaetecher will put the ISO image on the USB stick.

Bob waits a few minutes, and now he has a USB stick with the latest Debian OS on it.

Bob will now be able to use it to install Linux and replace Windows with it.

How to use the Debian USB stick to overwrite Windows ?

This is where it gets a bit technical for Bob. But here are the steps he needs to do:

  1. He needs to plug his USB stick in his computer

  2. He needs to restart his computer

  3. As his computer restarts, he needs to repeatedly press the F1 or F2 or DEL or F10 key in order to enter his computer's BIOS (depending on which brand his computer is)

  4. once he is in the BIOS, he then needs to boot on his USB stick that has the Debian image

  5. Then once he boots on his USB stick, he can install debian on his computer

The key that Bob needs to press to enter his computer's BIOS depends on what brand his computer is (see this blogpost for examples).

Now Bob restarts his computer:

And now, as he has an ASUS motherboard, he repeatedly presses the F2 key to enter his computer's BIOS:

and from there, Bob needs to navigate the BIOS to boot on his USB key. Be aware that the Steps may vary, feel free to research how to change the boot options of your computer's BIOS settings. In Bob's example below, he is on an ASUS computer/motherboard, so he has these specific BIOS steps to do:

Boot > OS Type > Other OS

Boot > CSM settings > Launch CSM Auto

Boot device Selection > his USB stick

Once he selects his USB Stick, Bob can now boot from it, and he is greeted by Debian's welcome screen:

And from there, Bob installs linux as per his needs:

Here Bob decides that he wants to encrypt his whole harddrive too. That way, if someone were to steal his computer, without knowing his password, they would have no way to access Bob's local data.

Here Bob can select his window manager. Gnome is the default option, but he chooses Cinnamon to keep the feel similar to how it was on windows.

And there, Bob finished the Debian installation, he can unplug his USB stick, and click Continue to reboot his computer:

As he reboots his computer, he is greeted by the Debian boot screen, and he then types his password to unlock his harddrive encryption:

Then he logs in using the password he set earlier:

And now that Bob is logged in, he is greeted by the Cinnamon window manager, the feel of his OS remains similar to what he previously had on Windows, but now it's all open source!

And that's it! Bob has managed to get privacy from Microsoft's constant surveillance by replacing Windows with a Linux distribution.

From there, Bob can update his linux distribution and install new packages, following this tutorial here.


Until there is Nothing left.

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