New Features Coming to Debian 10 Buster Release

    Debian 10 Buster is nearing its release. The first release candidate is already out and we should see the final release, hopefully, in a few weeks.

    If you are excited about this major new release, let me tell you what’s in it for you.

    Debian 10 Buster Release Schedule

    The release date of Debian 10 Buster has been set to 6th of July, 2019.

    You won’t find a release schedule for Debian and the release date is only declared when it is certain that everything is in order for the release.

    Why is that so? Unlike other distributions, Debian doesn’t do time-based releases. It instead focuses on fixing release-critical bugs. Release-critical bugs are bugs which have either security issues CVE’s or some other critical issues which prevent Debian from releasing.

    Debian has three parts in its archive, called Main, contrib and non-free. Of the three, Debian Developers and Release Managers are most concerned that the packages which form the bedrock of the distribution i.e. Main is rock stable. So they make sure that there aren’t any major functional or security issues. They are also given priority values such as Essential, Required, Important, Standard, Optional and Extra. More on this in some later Debian article.

    This is necessary because Debian is used as a server in many different environments and people have come to depend on Debian. They also look at upgrade cycles to see nothing breaks for which they look for people to test and see if something breaks while upgrading and inform Debian of the same.

    This commitment to stability is one of the many reasons why I love to use Debian.

    What’s new in Debian 10 Buster Release

    Here are a few visual and under the hood changes in the upcoming major release of Debian.

    New theme and wallpaper

    The Debian theme for Buster is called FuturePrototype and can be seen below:

    Debian Buster FuturePrototype Theme
    Debian Buster FuturePrototype Theme

    1. GNOME Desktop 3.30

    The GNOME desktop which was 1.3.22 in Debian Stretch is updated to 1.3.30 in Buster. Some of the new packages included in this GNOME desktop release are gnome-todo, tracker instead of tracker-gui , dependency against gstreamer1.0-packagekit so there is automatic codec installation for playing movies etc. The big move has been all packages being moved from libgtk2+ to libgtk3+ .

    2. Linux Kernel 4.19.0-4

    Debian uses LTS Kernel versions so you can expect much better hardware support and long 5 year maintainance and support cycle from Debian. From kernel 4.9.0.3 we have come to 4.19.0-4 .

    $ uname -r
    4.19.0-4-amd64

    3. OpenJDK 11.0

    For a long time Debian was stuck on OpenJDK 8.0. Now in Debian Buster we have moved to OpenJDK 11.0 and have a team which will take care of new versions.

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    4. AppArmor Enabled by Default

    In Debian Buster AppArmor will be enabled by default. While this is a good thing, care would have to be taken care by system administrators to enable correct policies. This is only the first step and would need fixing probably lot of scripts to be as useful as been envisioned for the user.

    5. Nodejs 10.15.2

    For a long time Debian had Nodejs 4.8 in the repo. In this cycle Debian has moved to Nodejs 10.15.2 . In fact, Debian Buster has many javascript libraries such as yarnpkg (an npm alternative) and many others.

    Of course, you can install latest Nodejs in Debian from the project’s repository but it’s good to see newer version in Debian repository.

    6. NFtables replaces iptables

    Debian buster provides nftables as a full replacement to iptables which means better and easier syntax, better support for dual-stack ipv4-v6 firewalls and more.

    7. Support for lot of ARM 64 and ARMHF SBC Boards.

    There has been a constant stream of new SBC boards which Debian is supporting, the latest amongst these are pine64_plus, pinebook for ARM64, while Firefly-RK3288, u-boot-rockchip for ARMHF 64 as well as Odroid HC1/HC2 boards, SolidRun Cubox-i Dual/Quad (1.5som), and SolidRun Cubox-i Dual/Quad (1.5som+emmc) boards, Cubietruckplus as well. There is support for Rock 64, Banana Pi M2 Berry, Pine A64 LTS Board, Olimex A64 Teres-1 as well as Raspberry Pi 1, Zero and Pi 3. Support will be out-of-the box for RISC-V systems as well.

    8. Python 2 is dead, long live Python 3

    Python 2 will be deprecated on January 1, 2020 by python.org . While Debian does have Python 2.7 efforts are on to remove after moving all packages to Python 3 to remove it from the repo. This may happen either at Buster release or in a future point release but this is imminent. So Python developers are encouraged to move their code-base to be compatible with Python 3. At the moment of writing, both python2 and python3 are supported in Debian buster.

    9. Mailman 3

    Mailman3 is finally available in Debian. While Mailman has been further sub-divided into components. To install the whole stack, install mailman3-full to get all the components.

    10. Any existing Postgresql databases used will need to be reindexed

    Due to updates in glibc locale data, the way the information is sorted in put in text indexes will change hence it would be beneficial to reindex the data so no data corruption arises in near future.

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    11. Bash 5.0 by Default

    You probably have already about the new features in Bash 5.0, this version is already in Debian.

    12. Debian implementing /usr/merge

    An excellent freedesktop primer on what /usr/merge brings is already shared. Couple of things to note though. While Debian would like to do the whole transition, there is possibility that due to unforseen circumstances, some binaries may not be in a position to do the change. One point to note though, /var and /etc/ will be left alone so people who are using containers or cloud would not have to worry too much 🙂

    13. Secure-boot support

    With Buster RC1, Debian now has secure-boot support. Which means machines which have the secure-boot bit turned on in the machine should be easily able to install Debian on such machines. No need to disable or workaround Secure boot anymore 🙂

    14. Calameres Live-installer for Debian-Live images

    For Debian buster, Debian Live, Debian introduces Calameres Installer instead of plain old debian-installer. While the Debian-installer has lot many features than Calameres, for newbies Calameres provides a fresh alternative to install than debian-installer. Some screenshots from the installation process.

    New installer in Debian 10 Buster
    Calamares Partitioning Stage

    As can be seen it is pretty easy to Install Debian under Calamares, only 5 stages to go through and you can have Debian installed at your end.

    Download Debian 10 Live Images (only for testing)

    Don’t use it on production machines just yet. Try it on a test machine or a virtual machine.

    You can get Debian 64-bit and 32 bit images from Debian Live directory. If you want the 64-bit look into 64-bit directory, if you want the 32-bit, you can look into the 32-bit directory.

    Debian 10 Buster Live Images

    If you upgrade from existing stable and something breaks, see if it is reported against the upgrade-reports psuedo-package using reportbug you saw the issue with. If the bug has not reported in the package then report it and share as much information as you can.

    In Conclusion

    While thousands of packages have been updated and it is virtually impossible to list them all. I have tired to list some of the major changes that you can look for in Debian buster. What do you think of it?

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