Debian 9 Stretches Its Wings

Jun 28, 2017

The new release of Debian has a very strong focus on security.

The latest release of Debian, code-named Stretch, has been released after 26 months of development. Debian 9 will be supported for the next five years, making it one of the longest supported community-based distributions. Ubuntu LTS is supported for three years on desktops and five years on severs; CentOS is supported for 10 years.

Debian has done some reshuffling with default software: MariaDB has replaced MySQL as the default database, and since the Mozilla and Debian communities have sorted out their trademark dispute, you can now use vanilla Firefox and Thunderbird instead of rebranded Iceweasel and Icedove.

Debian is primarily a leading server operating system, but it’s well revered among the desktop users who need reliable and stable systems. Debian is a Gnome distribution, and Stretch comes with a generation older Gnome Shell 3.22. That’s the only downside of using Debian on the desktop, you are often stuck with very old packages.

Looking at the continuous disclosure of security bugs in Linux, Debian is maintaining a very tight grip on security.

“Thanks to the Reproducible Builds project, over 90% of the source packages included in Debian 9 will build bit-for-bit identical binary packages. This is an important verification feature which protects users from malicious attempts to tamper with compilers and build networks. Future Debian releases will include tools and metadata so that end-users can validate the provenance of packages within the archive,” said the release announcement.

The X display server no longer needs “root” privileges, which has been a major criticism and security risk.

This is also the first release of Debian that features the modern branch of GnuPG in the gnupg package. “This brings with it elliptic curve cryptography, better defaults, a more modular architecture, and improved smartcard support. We will continue to supply the classic branch of GnuPG as gnupg1 for people who need it, but it is now deprecated,” said the release announcement.

This release has also improved UEFI support, which now also supports installing on 32-bit UEFI firmware with a 64-bit kernel. The Debian Live images now include support for UEFI booting as a new feature, too.

Debian is known for wide support for architecture, this release supports 10 architectures, including 64-bit PC/Intel EM64T/x86-64 (amd64), 32-bit PC/Intel IA-32 (i386), 64-bit little-endian Motorola/IBM PowerPC (ppc64el), 64-bit IBM S/390 (s390x) for ARM, armel and armhf for older and more recent 32-bit hardware plus arm64 for the 64-bit AArch64 architecture, and in addition to the two 32-bit mips (big endian) and mipsel (little endian) for MIPS, a new mips64el architecture for 64-bit little-endian hardware.

Debian 9 is available for free download.

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