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Re: Internet with Debian

Hi Jim,

On 2013-04-12 23:26, Jim wrote:
> I just downloaded the full live install IOS for Debian and burned to a
> USB. Booting using the USB works but I can not find any link or clue on
> how to connect the computer to the wireless router.
> If there is a page that would help me get that done?
> Jim
> -- 

In the past few days, I installed Debian Live on a USB stick for the first
time and was faced with the same problem as You.
I'll describe what I did to solve it.

When I tried to configure the wireless interface in the KDE network options,
it was ghosted out, which I guessed meant that I first had to install a
driver package for my Broadcom interface.

No, to install anything (permanently) on a live system, one needs persistent
storage, which doesn´t go away when the system is shut down, because the
image is read-only.
I never got this to work with stable (Squeeze), so I went with an ISO
image of
Debian Live Wheezy from

<http://live.debian.net/cdimage/release/next/>, and got it to work just

How to do this is described in section 10.3 of


but I´ll walk You through the steps I used:

I booted the live system, opened a ´Terminal´ window and used ´mount´ to
find the device name of the USB stick (in my case /dev/sdb).
The ISO image partition was /dev/sdb1.
To create the persistent storage, I then created a second partition on the
same stick from the remaining free space using the command cfdisk.

1) Enter ´# sudo cfdisk /dev/sdX´, where ´X´ is the letter referring to Your
USB stick.  Make sure it´s the right one so You don´t erase the hard drive!

2) Select the free space, hit ´N(ew)´ to create a new partition, then
´Primary´ and hit ´Enter´ to confirm that the entire remaining space of the
stick is to be used for the new partition.
Write the partition table to the stick by ´Shift-w´ (answer ´yes´ to the
Now the new partition sdX2 should appear in the list.
Quit cfdisk.

3) Install a file system, e.g. ext4, on /dev/sdX2 using the command

# sudo mkfs.ext4 -L persistence /dev/sdX2

labeling it ´persistence´.

4) After the command completes, mount the new partition:

# sudo mount -t ext4 /persistence /mnt

to be able to write a config file to its root directory:

5) I used the editor ´pico´:

# sudo pico /mnt/persistence.conf

entered the line "/ union", and saved the file (ctrl-O).
Note the space after ´/´.
You can also omit ´ union´ (see manual), but I did it this way.
This creates a writable extension to the root file system which
survives reboots.
(There are other possible options mentioned in the manual...)

6) Unmount the partition:

# sudo umount /mnt

7) Shutdown the system and boot it again, but this time, when
the boot menu appears, hit ´TAB´ and enter

´ persistence´ before hitting ´RETURN´.

Note the leading space.

You have to do this every time You boot to get access to the
persistent storage.
To create a boot menu entry for it (and make it default), it seems
one has to edit the file live.cfg in the /isolinux directory of the
ISO image it seems, *before* You write it to the USB stick, if I
understand it correctly, because the persistent storage isn´t
available at the point of the booting process where the menu is

8) When booting is completed, the persistent storage is mounted in
´/´ and also shows up in


where You can find all directories of the live system.
However, You use the system in the same way You do with a
HDD-based one, writing user files to /home/user/..., for example.
Any change to the live system is automatically written to this
writable storage.

9) Finally, to install the Broadcom driver, I appended the line

deb http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian wheezy main contrib non-free

to the config file /etc/apt/sources.list  , and then entered the
commands (make sure the computer is connected to the Internet):

# sudo aptitude update
# sudo aptitude install firmware-brcm80211 wireless-tools

After shutting down the system and rebooting (with persistence),
the wireless interface was turned on so I could configure it.
Since then I surf without the Ethernet cable :-)

Of course, in Your case You probably need another WLAN driver,
corresponding to Your device.

I find the persistent storage great, since I can update the system,
save bookmarks, and other things.
On the other hand, the untouched, original system is still available:
Just hit ´Enter´ when the Debian Live boot menu appears, and You get
the system without persistent storage.
This is particularly good if the system gets screwed up by changes
written to ´persistence´; just erase that partition and start over.

Hope this helps,

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