Feeds

Good news: Debian 7 is rock solid. Bad news: It's called Wheezy

If you want to be 20 miles from the bleeding edge, come on in

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Review Debian, the daddy to many a Linux distro including Ubuntu and Mint, has been updated for the first time in more than two years.

Codenamed Wheezy, Debian 7 actually brings the GPL operating system up to speed with some of its more famous offspring, though, true to its roots, Debian's stable release continues to focus on just that - stability.

If you're looking for a stable, rock solid Linux distro the new Debian will not disappoint. If you prefer to have the latest and greatest software on your machine you're better off sticking with more popular Debian offspring, such as the Ubuntu or Mint distributions.

Both Ubuntu and Mint start from Debian's unstable release channel and then add their own software on top. Mint offers a more direct Debian descendant that pulls from the somewhat stabler Debian testing, also the source of Ubuntu's LTS releases. While both add quite a bit to Debian's base offering, it's important to remember that without Debian there'd be no Ubuntu and no Mint.

For those who prefer the stable core of Debian without the cruft of Unity, Cinnamon or other downstream add-ons, Debian 7 is an important release.

There's no better way to see how Debian's emphasis on stability translates to the real world than a quick look at what's new in Debian 7. For the most part the distro's software and tools will be old news to anyone using Ubuntu, but that's by design.

Sometimes the stable-by-design approach is a good thing, but this does mean that Debian still has some rather creaky tools in it, such as the Linux 3.2 kernel, which was released in January 2012. The latest kernel is 3.9. More than just being a few releases behind, sticking with 3.2 means users may have trouble getting Debian to run properly on some of the latest hardware available - to say nothing of any hardware coming in the near future. On the plus side Debian 7 does, despite the older kernel, support UEFI installations on x86-64 hardware.

Debian 7 desktop

The default install gives you, among other things, an Xfce 4.8 desktop

The latest desktops available for Debian 7 include GNOME 3.4, KDE 4.8, and Xfce 4.8. The latest is a bit disappointing since Xfce is one of the best - and most popular - desktops for Debian and the latest version Xfce 4.10 has quite a few features that now won't make Debian's stable release for another two years. Likewise GNOME is now up to 3.8. But again, if this is the sort of thing that bothers you, Debian stable releases are not for you.

This is also the first Debian release to default to using ext4 file system rather than ext3, a leap most distros made quite a while ago.

Some years ago there was a popular joke among early Ubuntu adopters that "Ubuntu" was an ancient African word meaning "can't install Debian", but it's been some time since that joke had any basis in reality. Indeed Wheezy continues to offer a simple, if somewhat less flashy, graphical installer that walks even newcomers through the installation process with just as much hand-holding ease as you'll find in Ubuntu or Mint.

Seasoned Debian experts can, of course, choose a variety of installation methods including the good old command line.

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

Next page: Install it your way

More from The Register

next story
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Apple fanbois SCREAM as update BRICKS their Macbook Airs
Ragegasm spills over as firmware upgrade kills machines
Captain Kirk sets phaser to SLAUGHTER after trying new Facebook app
William Shatner less-than-impressed by Zuck's celebrity-only app
Do YOU work at Microsoft? Um. Are you SURE about that?
Nokia and marketing types first to get the bullet, says report
Microsoft takes on Chromebook with low-cost Windows laptops
Redmond's chief salesman: We're taking 'hard' decisions
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.