Yesterday, I got a computer from my school, it is:

Brand Dell Optiplex 740
Processor AMD Athlon 64
Memory 2 x 1GB DDR2 Kingston
Hard disk 250GB SATA
Periperals USB x 7, Serial, Parallel

The whole point is, firstly, it is an AMD64 machine; and secondly, it has no optical drive. But anyway, what I need is just a Debian to replce the Windoze system.

To install Debian, I used a USB thumb disk. I tried with a card reader and a Sony memory stick but it doesn’t work because of the card reader seems do not support the bootstrap process. The way to use it, after troubleshooting for a long time, is: (assuming your thumb disk is /dev/sda)

# wget -nH -nd http://some.mirror/path/installer-amd64/current/images/hd-media/boot.img.gz
# zcat boot.img.gz > /dev/sda
# mount -t vfat /dev/sda /mnt
# cp debian-40r1-amd64-netinst.iso /mnt
# umount /mnt

The whole point is, you have to zcat to /dev/sda rather than sda1, because otherwise you mean to rely on the crapy boot sector on your thumb disk. If you have to do the other way, you may also use the mbr package in Debian to set a bootable boot sector.

Once you have the thumb disk ready, plug it into the Dell box and boot. Remember to set the boot device to be USB ZIP Disk.