Debian has been installable from USB (or from any non-optical non-floppy
mass storage device, to be exact, but I shall use the term “USB stick” for
convenience) since some time.

Preparing installation optical disks or floppies is, or used to be easy,
and involves two operations, depending on the case:
    wget cd.iso
    wodim dev=/dev/cdrom cd.iso
    wget floppy.img
    dd if=floppy.img of=/dev/floppy

However, preparing an USB stick is not really easy:
    wget hd-media.img
    wget cd.iso
    dd if=hd-media.img of=/dev/stick
    mount /dev/stick /mnt
    cp cd.iso /mnt
    umount /mnt

The installation manual explains that in a non-straightforward way,
describing two methods, and giving only hints to find where to download
the two needed images. In addition, this procedure depends on *nix
tools, and is thus inapplicable for many user that start installing
Debian from a foreign system, which is a common case. Because of this
complication, I see many beginners failing at preparing USB images, if
not failing to install Debian at all because they do not have an optical

Could we consider providing ready-to-use hd-media images? Something that
would only need to be downloaded an written to a USB stick, as we do for
optical media? I see two ways to implement that:
* doing the copy of the CD image on the hd-media filesystem before
  making it available as an image;
* using the recent hybrid boot feature of SYSLINUX, that allow to build
  single images that are bootable either as El Torito optical media
  or as MBR on-optical media, if applicable to the Debian installer.

If there are specific reasons not to provide ready-to-use, but only
pieces of hd-media images, as we currently do, these reasons might be
worth being documented in the installation manual with a note such as:
“Note: this procedure is not as easy as the CD one, because [blah].”
That would avoid further messages such as this very one. :-)

Cheers, and thanks for the great piece of software that the Debian
installed is, by the way, to support so many architectures and media
types. :-)

: /` )   Tanguy Ortolo
| `-'    Debian maintainer

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