When I setup a Debian server there’s a few basic things I do to get it online.
First steps boot from the netinst CD and follow the installer.
First logon using SSH as your regular user account as root can’t access the system remotely. So you’ll have to logon unprivileged and then su to root.
Then before doing anything else install sudo and give your user account access by making them a member of the sudo group.
# apt-get install sudo # usermod -a -G sudo [user]
You’ll have to logout and back in to pick-up the sudo group change.