Debian is one of the most popular and influential Linux distributions. It is renowned for its stability, security, and commitment to free software. On June 10th, 2023, Debian launched its newest stable version, codenamed Bookworm. In this article, we will explore some of the new features and changes in Debian 12, contrast it with the previous version, Debian 11 Bullseye.
How Debian 12 Differs from Debian 11
Debian releases a new stable version every two years. The last version, Debian 11 Bullseye, came out on August 14th, 2021. Debian 12 Bookworm brings several enhancements and updates over Debian 11. Here are some of the main ones:
Installation: Debian 12 has a more user-friendly installation process than Debian 11. It supports both graphical and text-based installers, as well as automatic installation using preseeding. It also includes non-free firmware by default in the installation media, making it easier to install on hardware that requires proprietary drivers. Moreover, it supports
UEFI Secure Boot, which improves the security of the boot process.
Packages: Debian 12 contains over 59,000 packages, an increase of over 11,000 from Debian 11. It also updates many of the existing packages to their latest versions. For example, it ships with Linux kernel 6.1 (compared to kernel 5.10 in Debian 11), GNOME 43 (compared to GNOME 40 in Debian 11), KDE Plasma 5.27 (compared to KDE Plasma 5.20 in Debian 11), LibreOffice 7.4 (compared to LibreOffice 7.0 in Debian 11), and many more.
Firmware policy: Debian has always been strict about only including free software in its official repositories. However, this has caused some problems for users who need non-free firmware for their hardware to work properly. In Debian 12, the project has relaxed its stance on non-free firmware a bit. It now allows users to enable non-free repositories during installation or after installation using a simple command. It also provides a separate non-free section on its website where users can find information and download non-free firmware.
Pros and Cons of Debian 12
Debian is widely regarded as one of the best Linux distributions for its stability, compatibility, security, and software availability. However, it also has some drawbacks that may discourage some users from choosing it. Here are some of the pros and cons of Debian 12:
Stability: Debian is known for its stability and reliability. It only releases a new stable version when it is thoroughly tested and ready for production use. It also provides long-term support for each release, with five years of full support and two years of extra LTS support.
Compatibility: Debian supports a wide range of architectures and hardware devices. It can run on almost any processor architecture available in the market, from Intel x86 to ARM to PowerPC. It also supports many peripherals and other hardware components, such as laptops, multiple processors, graphics cards, network adapters, braille displays, speech synthesizers, etc.
Security: Debian takes security seriously. It provides timely security updates for all its packages through its dedicated security team. It also offers various security features and tools, such as AppArmor, SELinux, Firejail, ClamAV, etc., to help users protect their systems from threats.
Software availability: Debian has one of the largest collections of software packages in the Linux world. It offers thousands of free applications for various purposes and needs. It also allows users to install software from other sources using tools like Flatpak or Snap.
Buggy updates: Despite its reputation for stability, Debian sometimes releases buggy updates that may break some functionality or cause system instability. This is especially true for packages in the testing or unstable branches of Debian, which are not as well-tested as the stable branch. Users who want to use the latest software versions may encounter some issues with these updates.
Conservative operating system: Debian is a conservative operating system that prioritizes stability over innovation. It does not always include the latest features or technologies in its stable releases. For example, it still uses the old init system, SysVinit, instead of the newer systemd. It also does not support Wayland, the modern display server protocol that replaces X11.
Issues with the GNU principles: Debian follows the GNU principles of free software, which means that it only includes software that respects the users’ freedom and privacy. However, this also means that it excludes some popular software that is either proprietary or has non-free dependencies. For example, it does not include Chrome, Skype, Spotify, Steam, etc., in its official repositories. Users who want to use these software have to install them from other sources, which may not be easy or secure.
Advice and Suggestions for Debian 12 Users
If you are interested in installing or upgrading to Debian 12, here are some advice and suggestions to help you get started:
Check the hardware requirements: Before installing Debian 12, make sure that your hardware meets the minimum requirements for running it. You will need at least 512 MB of RAM (2 GB recommended), 10 GB of disk space (more if you want to install additional packages), and a processor that supports the architecture you want to install (64-bit PC, 64-bit ARM, etc.).
Back up your data: Before installing or upgrading to Debian 12, it is always a good idea to back up your important data. You can use tools like rsync, tar, or dd to copy your files to an external drive or a cloud service. You can also use tools like Clonezilla or Partimage to create an image of your entire disk or partition.
Choose a desktop environment: Debian 12 offers several desktop environments to choose from, such as GNOME, KDE, Xfce, LXDE, LXQt, MATE, Cinnamon, etc. You can select your preferred desktop environment during installation or after installation using the tasksel tool. You can also install multiple desktop environments and switch between them using the display manager.
Use the official documentation: Debian has a comprehensive and detailed documentation that covers everything from installation to configuration to troubleshooting. You can find the official documentation on its website or in the /usr/share/doc directory on your system. You can also use the man and info commands to access the manual pages and info pages of specific commands or packages.
Debian 12 Bookworm is a robust and reliable Linux distribution that offers stability, compatibility, security, and software availability. It also introduces some enhancements and updates over Debian 11 Bullseye in terms of installation, packages, and firmware policy. However, it also has some drawbacks that may not suit everyone’s preferences or needs. In this article, we explored some of the new features and changes in Debian 12, contrasted it with Debian 11, and offered you some advice on how to install or upgrade to it. We hope you found this article helpful and informative.