Debian 6.0 breaks free of restrictive licenses

The new operating system release, code-named “Squeeze," comes in versions based on both Linux and FreeBSD kernels.

Following a full two years of development, the Debian Project on Sunday released version 6.0 of its namesake Linux distribution, code-named "Squeeze."

The new Debian release is notable in many ways, not least of which is that it is the first version ever to incorporate an entirely free Linux kernel, using only software published under the GNU General Public License (GPL) or other free licenses compliant with the official Open Source Definition.

Any non-free firmware files have been split out into separate packages and moved out of the Debian main archive; instead, they're now located in the non-free area of the Debian archive, which is not enabled by default. For those unwilling to part with the non-free firmware files, however, there is an unofficial set of installation CDs that contains them.

"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 project team explained. "Firmware files needed during installation may be loaded by the installation system; special CD images and tarballs for USB based installations are available too."

A FreeBSD Version

Debian 6.0 represents another first in that it's available in a version based on the FreeBSD kernel as well as one that uses the traditional GNU/Linux kernel. Still considered a "technology preview," the new FreeBSD version is available for two architectures: i386 and amd64. Included are many of the existing features of Linux-based Debian versions as well as some that are unique to the BSD world; currently, however, some advanced desktop features are not yet supported.

Debian GNU/Linux runs on computers ranging from palmtops and handheld systems to supercomputers. Supported architectures include i386, amd64, powerpc, SPARC, MIPS, ia64, s390 and ARM EABI.

Though it's based on the GNOME desktop by default, Debian 6.0 also includes the KDE Plasma desktop and applications as well as Xfce and LXDE desktop environments. A dependency-based boot system is designed to make system start-up faster and more robust, while a raft of other changes -- including the introduction of the KDE Plasma Netbook shell -- make Debian more suitable for small form factor notebooks.

More than 10,000 new packages are included in Squeeze, including Google Chrome, the Icinga monitoring solution, the Software Center package management front end and a new network manager. Underneath the proverbial "hood" in the Linux version is Linux 2.6.32, while other packages in the release include X.Org 7.5, OpenOffice.org 3.2.1, GIMP 2.6.11, Iceweasel 3.5.16 (an unbranded version of Mozilla Firefox), Icedove 3.0.11 (an unbranded version of Mozilla Thunderbird), PostgreSQL 8.4.6, MySQL 5.1.49, Samba 3.5.6 and more than 29,000 other ready-to-use software packages.

Fourth in Popularity

With a new, easier installation process, version 6.0 can be installed from Blu-ray Discs, DVDs, CDs and USB sticks or from the network. Upgrades from Debian GNU/Linux 5.0, or "Lenny," are automatically handled by the apt-get package management tool for most configurations.

Currently the fourth most popular Linux distribution, according to Distrowatch, Debian aims to be "the universal operating system." It is the basis for the market-leading Ubuntu distribution, as well as popular derivatives including Linux Mint. As businesses increasingly rely on the security and stability of Linux for their mission-critical functions, this new Debian distribution could be well worth testing out.

Follow Katherine Noyes on Twitter: @Noyesk.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags unixopen sourceLinuxuser license provisionssoftwarenon-Windowsoperating systems

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Katherine Noyes

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?