Here's some good news for all you Debian fans: Debian 6.0 (Squeeze) has now been released.
And it's not just Linux users who should take note. For the first time, alongside Debian GNU/Linux (that's right, that's Debian's official name, and they get the "GNU"), Debian GNU/kFreeBSD is introduced as a "technology preview."
Debian GNU/kFreeBSD will port both a 32- and 64-bit PC version of the FreeBSD kernel into the Debian userspace, making them the first Debian release without a Linux kernel. The Debian Project is serious about the technology preview label, though: these FreeBSD-based versions will have limited advanced desktop features.
Whether it's Linux or FreeBSD inside, Debian 6.0 will include the usual range of desktop environments: KDE Plasma, GNOME, Xfce, and LXDE desktop environments will all be on board.
Of course, the Linux flavor of Debian 6.0 will be ready for a robust nine types of architectures: 32-bit PC/Intel IA-32 (i386), 64-bit PC/Intel EM64T/x86-64 (amd64), Motorola/IBM PowerPC (powerpc), Sun/Oracle SPARC (sparc), MIPS [mips (big-endian), mipsel (little-endian)], Intel Itanium (ia64), IBM S/390 (s390), and ARM EABI (armel).
This release has been a long time coming, which is typical of Debian releases in recent years. Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 (Lenny) was rolled out on Valentine's Day in 2009, a long release cycle that has sporadically called Debian's relevancy into question. Ubuntu, conventional wisdom suggests, was formed just to get away from such two-year release cycles--though that sort of glosses over the fact that Canonical also wanted a faster release cycle to get more customers, not just to release faster for the sake of speed alone.
Whether you agree with how Debian is run, it's hard to deny that this is one well put-together distribution. There is a reason why many successful Linux distros are based on Debian, and if it takes a two-year dev cycle to produce this kind of quality on a volunteer basis, then how can we really complain?
There are many goodies in Debian 6.0 GNU/Linux, not the least of which is the new completely free-as-in-freedom Linux kernel, which no longer contains firmware modules that Debian developers found troublesome.
"These [non-free modules] were split out into separate packages and moved out of the Debian main archive into the non-free area of our archive, which is not enabled by default. In this way Debian users have the possibility of running a completely free operating system, but may still choose to use non-free firmware files if necessary," the press release states.
The Debian team has also created a dependency-based boot system, making they claim will make Debian "start-up faster and more robust due to parallel execution of boot scripts and correct dependency tracking between them." If reality matches these statements, this would make Debian a lot more netbook-platform friendly.
I was also pleased to note that the installation tool has bee made easier. Given my historic issues with Debian installs, you know I will have to give that a look. I also noted that the Debian team is touting the fact that Debian is standards-compliant: it's compatible with Filesystem Hierarchy Standards v2.3 and the Linux Standard Base v3.2.
According to the statement from Debian, installation images may be downloaded right now via bittorrent (the recommended method), jigdo, or HTTP; see Debian on CDs for further information. It will soon be available on physical DVD, CD-ROM, and Blu-ray Discs from numerous vendors, as well.
Upgrades to Debian GNU/Linux 6.0 from the previous Lenny release will be automatically handled by the apt-get package management tool for most configurations, as well as with the aptitude package management tool, the statement continued.