Debian/Hetzner

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This article is part of a series of guides that describe NixNet's setup in excruciating detail. If you would like to follow them, please start at the Infrastructure page.
Caution: this guide is not finished yet; following it may leave you with an unuseable machine. To be notified of updates, please create an account and add it to your watchlist.

The "regular" distro installation process with Hetzner is a pain in the ass. They have a limited number of KVM devices and loading custom ISO images through that KVM interface is terribly unreliable. Alternatively, you could provide connection details for a SAMBA server and load an ISO that way but this is still too much trouble

Thankfully, they have a much simpler process for setting things up.

Note: if you're used to working with systems from other providers, this may not be the same process. Read carefully.

The Rescue System

Hetzner's Rescue System is the simplest way I've found to get Debian set up; as part of that image, they provide a script called installimage which automates almost everything, including software RAID.

To activate it, go to The Robot, click Server, expand the one you're setting up, click the Rescue tab, and activate the rescue system for your architecture (likely 64-bit). Take note of the generated password at the bottom. Go to the Reset tab, select the power button, send the signal, wait a few seconds, select the power button again, and send the signal again. When your server finishes booting, you'll be able to connect to the rescue system.

SSH into the root account and enter the generated password. Don't lose it. It will be needed later. You should now see something like this.

-------------------------------------------------------------------

  Welcome to the Hetzner Rescue System.

  This Rescue System is based on Debian 10 (buster) with a custom
  kernel. You can install software as in a normal system.

  To install a new operating system from one of our prebuilt
  images, run 'installimage' and follow the instructions.

  More information at https://docs.hetzner.com/

-------------------------------------------------------------------

Rescue System up since 2021-01-23 05:18 +01:00

Hardware data:

   CPU1: AMD Ryzen 7 3700X 8-Core Processor (Cores 16)
   Memory:  64258 MB
   Disk /dev/nvme0n1: 1024 GB (=> 953 GiB) 
   Disk /dev/nvme1n1: 1024 GB (=> 953 GiB) 
   Total capacity 1907 GiB with 2 Disks

Network data:
   eth0  LINK: yes
         MAC:  a8:a1:59:3b:18:4a
         IP:   135.181.177.46
         IPv6: 2a01:4f9:3a:1f11::2/64
         Intel(R) Gigabit Ethernet Network Driver

root@rescue ~ #

From here, you should just be able to run installimage. A menu will appear in your terminal asking what distro you want; for this guide, choose Debian then go with the latest minimal version. Read the info screen, press OK, then set up your system. Personally, I recommend leaving software RAID enabled and leaving it at RAID 1.

RAID IS NOT A BACKUP! It simply ensures that, should one drive fail, the server will continue running. You should be taking your own, automated backups. When a drive fails, contact Hetzner support, have them replace it as soon as possible, then rebuild your array.

Set your hostname according to what's on the main Debian page.

Troubleshooting

Rebuilding a RAID array