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Debian 8.0 'Jessie' is out and even Microsoft is celebrating

Chris Hoffman | April 27, 2015
The wait is over. Debian 8.0--"Jessie"--will be released on April 25, after a nearly two-year development cycle for the next release of this long-standing Linux distribution.

The wait is over. Debian 8.0 — "Jessie" — will be released on April 25, after a nearly two-year development cycle for the next release of this long-standing Linux distribution.

Microsoft is even throwing Debian a birthday party, complete with cake. Sure, it's basically just an advertisement for Microsoft's Azure cloud-computing platform, but it's still amusing.

Software, security, and desktop updates

As usual — with every Linux distribution, really — the biggest changes you'll notice are package updates.

The majority of the packages included with Debian have had their versions bumped to the latest ones. From desktop environments and desktop applications to server software, system tools, and libraries, Debian now includes more of the latest software. Debian 7.0 Wheezy was released back in 2013, so there are about two years of new software included along with Debian here. New versions of Debian and Linux distributions don't just bump package versions — all these bits of software from different projects are tested to make sure they work properly together and form a stable system.

The old and insecure SSLv3 protocol has been disabled across this release, with system cryptography libraries and applications compiled without support for it. Many packages are now compiled with more "hardened" compiler flags for security purposes — these provide additional protection against buffer overflows and other attacks.

Debian 8.0 Jessie switches back to GNOME as the default desktop environment. In Debian 7.0 Wheezy, Xfce was the default. GNOME fought back and has improved immensely since then. Specifically, Jessie includes GNOME 3.14.

But it's not all bad news if you loathe GNOME Shell. Along with the usual universe of Linux desktop environments, the MATE and Cinnamon desktops popularized by Linux Mint are also available in Debian Jessie.

Want to stay up to date on Linux, BSD, Chrome OS, and the rest of the World Beyond Windows? Bookmark the World Beyond Windows column page or follow our RSS feed.

Systemd is now the default in Debian, too

This is the release that sees Debian switch to systemd from the old SysV init system. It was previously included with Debian 7 Wheezy as a technology preview, but it's now the default for everyone in Debian 8. The Debian project had to switch to something, and systemd won out. Ideally, you shouldn't notice any differences. Even if you've written your own SysV init scripts, systemd is designed to be a drop-in replacement that supports all your old scripts.

Further reading: Meet systemd, the controversial project taking over a Linux distro near you

This decision was made after much drama and debate, and the Devuan project is upset about it and working on forking Debiansans systemd. But it remains to be seen if Devuan has enough staying power to bring together a large number of people to spend years on creating a forked version of Debian. It's a huge job.


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