Install Bare Bones Debian 7.4 Wheezy Server

How to install a bare bones Debian server and remotely manage it via SSH.

I used to be a HUGE fan of using Linux for my everyday desktop. I have to be honest and say the only Linux usage I have had over the past few years was from my home NAS (Open Media Vault, before that was FreeNAS) and then the firewall by the name of pfSense.

I am in the mode to work with Linux a bit more these days so I have decided to setup a bare bones Debian server.

This article is a quick “how-to” on setting up a simple, clean and lean Debian server. Also including setting up SSH to remotely connect to the server.

1. Download Debian ISO

Getting Debian main download page

There are a few different types of downloads you can choose from. For our super clean and simple installation, I want the smallest download possible.

For this, I chose the small installation image(netinst) option. This requires your VM (or physical server) to have an active internet connection so it can download the pieces needed that were not included in the download.


For the average VM (or even server), you will need either the amd64 (64bit processor) or the i386 (32bit processor). For my VM I chose amd64.

2. Install Debian 7.4 Wheezy

I will be installing Debian within my VirtualBox environment hosted on my main desktop.


I will assume you have VirtualBox installed or a physical server ready to go. If you need to setup VirtualBox, there are many free articles available on the web that can help you get started. If you want to see how I setup my VirtualBox enviornment, check out my tutorial series titled Building the Ultimate VirtualBox Lab.

My VirtualBox settings for this Debian installation:

  • 2 CPU
  • 1024 MB RAM
  • 8 GB HDD (VDI)
  • Network: Bridged
  • Disable
    • Floppy from boot order.
    • Audio.
    • USB.

The installation is very simple these days. Start the VM and run through the normal options. Most of the options I left default except for a few:

  • Domain name: I made up one: pc-addicts.internal
  • Software selection: I unselected ALL options.


3. Configure Debian Network Interface

By default Debian’s network interface is configured to use DHCP to automatically receive an IP address, network mask, and gateway. Since this is a server, I want to statically assign the IP information.

We need to edit the interfaces configuration file at /etc/network/interfaces.

In order to edit this file, we need to switch the user account we are using from the standard user to root.

su root

Next we are going to use Vim to edit the /etc/network/interfaces file.

Need help using Vim? Check out this nice Vim tutorial.

vi /etc/network/interfaces

Your configuration will most likely be a little different than mine.


Next we need to restart the network interface.

/etc/init.d/networking restart

Now you should be able to ping a web address successfully.

4. Install OpenSSH

Since I rarely work directly on my main desktop these days, I want to be able to remotely manage this new shiny Debian server from my laptop.

For this, we are going to be installing OpenSSH Server on our Debian server.

First let’s update the package database.

apt-get update

Now to install OpenSSH server.

apt-get install openssh-server

Your server should now be listening on port 22 for incoming connections.

5. Remotely Connect Using SSH

Connect to Debian SSH from Mac OS X

Mac OS X has a built-in SSH client that can be used from within Terminal.

At the prompt type: (change the IP to your server’s IP)



Connect to Debian SSH from Windows 8

On Windows I have always used a lightweight program called Putty.

Download the executable and run it.

Fill in the Host Name field with the server’s IP address then press Open.


Login with the credentials and you will be connected.


Question for You

Have you used Linux before? If so, do you remember what distro(s)?

About Chris Davis

Computer / Technology enthusiast. Very passionate about Systems Administration. I enjoy helping others try and reach their goals. You can follow Chris on if you'd like.


  1. Have you used Linux before? If so, do you remember what distro(s)?

    • I’ve been using Linux since 2004. From the latter part of 2004 to 2011, I used it exclusively, going from having last used Win98 to using Win7 when I bought a new laptop.

      That laptop got Linux ASAP, and then, as now (with my desktop), the primary use for my Windows install is gaming and Netflix (Yeah, yeah, I know…Netflix on WINE, but I choose not to).

      What distros have I used? Virtually every distro available from 2004-2011, except SuSe and RHEL. If it was available at the time, I at least installed it for a few days, to check it out. From Arch to Zen, if it was out there, I probably tried it.

      Having started with a copy of MEPIS sent to me by an acquaintance, then moving to Debian, my preference is toward Debian–or, at the least, Debian-based-distros. Yeah, Debian’s pretty stodgy, not bleeding-edge, but it’s stable, (something Ubuntu’s been notably lacking, of late), has a huge set of software repos and is the distro I’m most intimately familiar with on the CLI.

      Currently, I’m using Debian-jessie/testing as my main OS, with Win8.1 reserved for games & Netflix, have CrunchBang Linux (based on Debian-wheezy) installed on the missus’ elderly Dell, Open Media Vault (Debian-squeeze) on another old Dell as a NAS, and am contemplating diving back into the source-based distro world…or may dabble in NetBSD again, just for kicks. I have an unused partition on my SSD and plenty of space on my HDDs, you see… :)

  2. I use Linux servers on my ESXi Hosts, I think currently I have the following:
    MRTG (network bandwitdh graphing) running on Debian Server
    Ubiquiti UniFi Controller running on FreeBSD/OpenBSD
    2x NxFilter running on Debian/Ubuntu Server
    OpenFire IM VM – Lync Replacement running on Ubuntu Server (currently still in research planning phase)

    I probably have more but that’s all I can think of without remoting in to check.

  3. Oh, btw you should check out TeraTerm – I used to only use putty but TeraTerm is easier on the eyes.

  4. I have used Mint, Lubuntu and Ubuntu on desktop and laptop.
    These days I have a Ubuntu desktop as a file server, going to install Debian on it one of these days.
    The plan is to use it as a Timemachine for my Macbook air (it’s my main computer) , as a squeezebox server, Plex server, file/ftp server and maybe a tellstick server.

    Greetings from Norway.

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