Linux: Stable Debian 11 'bullseye' arrives with five years of support

Debian 11 gains exFAT filesystem support, over 10,000 new software packages, and long-term support.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

The project behind the Debian Linux distribution has released stable Debian 11, codenamed 'bullseye'. It's a version that was two years, one month and nine days in the making. 

Debian 11 follows the 2019 release of Debian 10 'buster'. As ZDNet's Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has noted, every Debian release is a big deal, with support coming from its user community rather than a company, as with SuSE Linux Enterprise (SLES). Debian is also the core operating system for other Linux distributions such as Canonical's Ubuntu and Raspberry Pi OS.

Debian 11 will get five years of support and is based on the Linux kernel 5.10 series, which was released in December with long-term support of between two and six years.   

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The Debian 11 release comes with several desktop environments, including Gnome 3.38, KDE Plasma 5.20, LXDE 11, LXQt 0.16, MATE 1.24, and Xfce 4.16.

Version 11 'bullseye' is the first Debian release to provide a Linux kernel with support for the exFAT (Extended File Allocation Table) filesystem, and defaults to using it to mount exFAT filesystems.

Microsoft opened its exFAT patents for Linux in 2019, clearing the way for its use in the Linux kernel. Microsoft extended FAT to flash memory storage devices such as USB drives and SD cards in 2006 with exFAT. Debian no longer requires the exFAT FUSE package. 

"Consequently it is no longer required to use the filesystem-in-userspace implementation provided via the exfat-fuse package. Tools for creating and checking an exFAT filesystem are provided in the exfatprogs package," the Debian team notes. 

Debian 11 introduces a new package, ipp-usb, which uses the vendor-neutral Internet Printing Protocol-over-USB (IPP-over-USB) protocol supported by many modern printers instead of using printer drivers. This is opposite to the approach taken by Mint Linux developers, who recently stripped the OS of IPP-over USB and switched back to back to using printer and scanner drivers.

"This allows a USB device to be treated as a network device. The official SANE driverless backend is provided by sane-escl in libsane1, which uses the eSCL protocol," explains the Debian team. 

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Debian 11 supports nine 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 for MIPS, mipsel (little-endian) architectures for 32-bit hardware and mips64el architecture for 64-bit little-endian hardware."

It also includes several updated software packages, including Apache, BIND DNS Server, Emacs, GIMP, LibreOffice, MariaDB, OpenSSH, Perl, PHP, PostgreSQL, Python, Rust, Samba, and Vim. 

The Debian team notes there are now more than 59,000 ready-to-use software packages, including 11,294 new ones.

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