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What to expect in Debian 5: Lenny


Debian took a giant step forward recently towards releasing the next version of Debian, Lenny, by freezing the codebase. Now, the only major things standing between the next release of the popular Linux distribution are “fixes for release critical bugs” and “fixes for severity.”

There are several hundreds bugs left to smash before Lenny is released, but the fixes are already coming in. Unlike the last Debian release, Etch, which was delayed for several months by internal developer dissension, Lenny, however, has had a smooth development path. With any luck at all Lenny should appear, as scheduled, in September.

Lenny is based on the 2.6.25 Linux kernel. For the desktop, Lenny supports both KDE 3.5.9 and GNOME It doesn’t support, however, KDE 4.1. It also includes the most recent versions, as of July, of many popular end-user software applications. These include: Firefox 3.01, OpenOffice 2.4.1, and Evolution

Lenny isn’t just for end-users of course. It all includes the best developer and server programs. For example, Lenny comes with glibc 2.7 and Samba 3.2.

For networking, Lenny will include full support for the IPv6 networking protocol and NFSv4 (Network File System). On the server side, Lenny is also expected to have LFS (Large File Support). With this, applications will have access to the largest files supported by the operating system and file system rather than an application-bound arbitrary file size limits.

The Debian developers are also hard at work cleaning up legacy programming issues. Here, they’re working on replacing debmake, a deprecated helper package for Debian packaging, from Debian. One issue that they’ve already completed is adding full support for I18n (Internationalization and localization). With this, any package using Debconf (Debian configuration management) now enables developers to translate of all end-user messages displayed by using a gettext-based system like po-debconf.

All-in-all, it looks like Debian 5 will be an outstanding distribution. Since Debian is, in turn, the foundation of many other distributions, such as Ubuntu and its family of Linux distributions; MEPIS; and Xandros, this bodes well for all of Linux.