Freedombox amd64 bullseye image will not install on my PC

Problem Description
With my 32G USB stick that has the current amd64 bullseye bootable image burned on it, I boot onto that stick and it appears to install with a lot of errors and stops at a point where it ask me for a system administrator login and password. I do not know what to do. I am a 72 year old person and need simple instructions. I need a Freedombox server.
You can contact me through
Thanks in advance…
John Marshall

Expected Results
Freedombox is installed on the hard drive of the PC.

Hi John,

FreedomBox is a headless server.
Headless, no monitor. It offers its services via webbrowser, you could try: http://localhost/

However, here you find a film about the setup: Download | FreedomBox - Personal Server at Home it is the very first thing on this site. I watched it too.


I realize that it is a headless server but I have a monitor, mouse and keyboard connected to my amd64 Lenovo ThinkPad M3 computer anyway. On a USB 3 stick, I burned the latest amd64 image that Freedombox offers. I put the USB stick into one of the USB ports. I turn on the computer and see a flurry of errors as it tries to install on the hard drive. Then it stops and says I have to login with a system administrator login and password and stops right there. It does not install on the hard drive because afterwards I reboot and see the previous operating system on the hard drive. I know to use https://freedombox.local to access the Freedombox but there is no point when it is not installed on the hard drive. I have tried to do this at least 5 times - same result. The video you mentioned shows how to install Freedombox on a Raspberry Pi but I don’t have one. I was an electrical engineer (retired) and and am now a computer enthusiast. So I have no idea what to do. Thanks again…

I don’t know why you would be having trouble with the FreedomBox amd64 image, but FreedomBox is a Debian pure blend, so another approach would be to install Debian on your computer first, then the freedombox package, as described here. This approach could provide clues to an underlying issue unrelated to FreedomBox if the Debian installation gets wedged.

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The FreedomBox image does not try to install itself anywhere.
Rather, it will run directly from the USB stick.

I think he is asking how to install it on the system he is using- I have the same problem- I have a tight little space to put the freedombox (I’m using an old Acer laptop), and I don’t want the USB sticking out the side. Also, the USB seems to be very slow.

I tried the instructions FreedomBox/Hardware/Debian - Debian Wiki , and it doesn’t work for me either - installed Debian, then tried to install freedombox over the top of the debian, then rebooted, and it reboots into debian, not freedom box.

I’m looking into using “DD”, but then you have to edit the grub file, and i’m not sure I want to dig in that far.

With most linux distros, you have the option to copy the usb image to the harddrive during install, but I don’t see a way to do this with freedombox - maybe it can be done through the ssh shell?

new, so don’t shoot me! :slight_smile:

Freedombox is a package (or many packages), not an OS. All Freedomboxes are running on Debian, even the pre-built images.

The method you linked to is correct for your hardware–install Debian, then install the Freedombox package. This does not replace Debian, it runs on top of it. You do not need a USB drive or the DD command for this kind of setup.

Great! so…I kinda knew that already (that it is running debian) - but the directions say “you can now run freedombox” (without telling you how to actually do that). Do I have to start it as an app from within debian or something?

But anyway, I gave up - started over - running it from a usb stick for now. I think I’m going to try to dd it through the ssh.

I am not sure if there is a service you need to start or anything, but once it is going you interface with it through the web portal (from another machine). The device you install it on shouldn’t be doing or saying anything–keep in mind it is intended to be a headless server.

Did you try to connect to http://freedombox.local/ (from another device) once you had it up?

not while it was stuck on the debian splash / login screen, no.

After you run sudo DEBIAN_FRONTEND=noninteractive apt-get install freedombox in the terminal, you should visit the ip address of the machine. If your machine on which you installed FreedomBox is let’s say a laptop, and you have a graphical desktop environment, you can just open Firefox and visit https://localhost . Then, you will be prompted to enter the content of /var/lib/plinth/firstboot-wizard-secret.
In my experience, if you reboot before compliting the Firstboot setup, the FreedomBox interface will not come back properly. After compliting the Firstboot however, everything starts automatically once the machine is up.


Ahhh! that’s it! that’s the missing info I was looking for. Edit to add: you are saying to open firefox on the laptop I installed freedombox on and enter https://localhost right when finishing the debain_frontend… command, correct? then enter the secret code, then it will run the same as a headless install.

I will probably try this. I think the USB ports on this old Acer netbook are 1.0, so it is really slowing things down. I tried a newer USB stick this morning, and it is running somewhat better on the new USB.

I can’t help but think it will run just a little faster from the native hard drive. I may try this.

and enter https://localhost right when finishing the debain_frontend… command, correct? then enter the secret code, then it will run the same as a headless install


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Ok, I got it running. The steps were to follow the instructions up to step 4. I found that copying the secret code was unnecessary and actually didn’t work during the initial install (before rebooting for the first time).

So I rebooted after installing the freedom box frontend. I logged into Debian, opened firefox, typed in https://localhost and hit enter. The freedom box start screen appeared and asked me for the secret code, which it said I could get by entering su cat /var/lib/plinth/firstboot-wizard-secret in a terminal (I think that’s correct - check me on that). I copied the secret code and pasted it in the browser window and began the set up. Once I completed the initial setup in Freedombox, I shut down the laptop using the freedombox menu, then rebooted it. This time the Freedombox login in a terminal mode was the only thing on the screen (not a debian splash screen / login). I was able to log in remotely from another computer.

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Hi @vii and @nbenedek,

I experienced a problem installing freedombox on a laptop, and there was a post about this issue as well. I didn’t find that making a quick check, but I know it’s on here somewhere.

vii, if you haven’t got this working yet I would try the instruction from nbenedek above, but let me add a few details.

  1. You may need to get network/wifi card firmware for your installation. You’ll have to dive into the Debian documentation for the details, but you put the firmware on another USB stick and plug that in when prompted at install time. You may have to extract the firmware files from a debian .deb archive. It’s all in the debian wiki. I just flounder through it until it works.
  2. Start with the debian net-inst distribution. This is a minimum installer that will download the files it needs from debian.
  3. Do not select any desktop environments, just install the base system. I believe this is where the laptop conflict I had was.
  4. After the basic debian system is installed you need to comment out your network card in /etc/network/interfaces. Mine looks like this now:

# some stuff at the top…

# The primary network interface
# allow-hotplug eno1
# iface eno1 inet dhcp

# allow-hotplug eno2
# iface eno2 inet static
# address

  1. Do not reboot yet
  2. Now follow the instructions from nbenedek above

I think you’ll have a freedombox running on your laptop at that point, but your laptop will not have a graphical environment to work on. You’ll have to connect to freedombox from a web browser on a different computer.

My information may not be completely up to date, but my understanding is that you can’t have both a debian desktop environment and freedombox on some laptops. My own was that case. I installed the desktop GUI first, and then added freedombox and that made my system unusable.

good luck!

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