The latest version of Debian -- Version 7.0, codenamed "Wheezy" -- is now in stable release, bringing with it accessibility enhancements, a new version of the GNOME 3.4 desktop environment and support for multiple hardware architectures.
Multiarch support allows users to run both 32-bit and 64-bit software on a single machine without any issue. Developer Steve Langasek said that when the feature was first mooted in the summer of 2011 that it represented an important capability.
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"Multiarch is a major enhancement to Debian's ability to deliver on the promise of being a universal operating system. Not only will it make crossbuilding easier, but also enables better support for legacy 32-bit applications on new 64-bit installations and in the future will even allow live migrations from 32-bit to 64-bit systems," he said.
Also contributing to that goal of universal accessibility is the new ability for blind users to install Debian using software speech commands only -- with no need for braille devices.
Thanks to extensive translation work, that feature can be accessed in a total of 73 different languages, the Debian Project's announcement said.
Also new to Debian 7.0 is built-in support for OpenStack and Xen Cloud Platform, as the distro bolsters its cloud credentials, along with an upgrade to Version 3.4 of the venerable GNOME desktop environment. The OS now supports UEFI booting, as well, though the controversial "secure boot" feature is not yet implemented.
Debian is an old and highly influential distribution (its first stable release was in 1996). It's the basis for distros like CrunchBang, Knoppix and Ubuntu, among many others. Its last stable release (Version 6.0, or Squeeze) rolled out in February 2011.
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This story, "Debian wheezes out Version 7" was originally published by Network World.