Chapter 2. What's new in Debian 11

Table of Contents

2.1. Supported architectures
2.2. What's new in the distribution?
2.2.1. Desktops and well known packages
2.2.2. Driverless scanning and printing
2.2.3. New generic open command
2.2.4. Control groups v2
2.2.5. Persistent systemd journal
2.2.6. New Fcitx 5 Input Method
2.2.7. News from Debian Med Blend
2.2.8. Kernel support for exFAT
2.2.9. Improved man page translations
2.2.10. Improved support for alternative init systems

The Wiki has more information about this topic.

2.1. Supported architectures

The following are the officially supported architectures for Debian 11:

  • 32-bit PC (i386) and 64-bit PC (amd64)

  • 64-bit ARM (arm64)

  • ARM EABI (armel)

  • ARMv7 (EABI hard-float ABI, armhf)

  • little-endian MIPS (mipsel)

  • 64-bit little-endian MIPS (mips64el)

  • 64-bit little-endian PowerPC (ppc64el)

  • IBM System z (s390x)

You can read more about port status, and port-specific information for your architecture at the Debian port web pages.

2.2. What's new in the distribution?

This new release of Debian again comes with a lot more software than its predecessor buster; the distribution includes over 11294 new packages, for a total of over 59551 packages. Most of the software in the distribution has been updated: over 42821 software packages (this is 72% of all packages in buster). Also, a significant number of packages (over 9519, 16% of the packages in buster) have for various reasons been removed from the distribution. You will not see any updates for these packages and they will be marked as "obsolete" in package management front-ends; see Section 4.8, “Obsolete packages”.

2.2.1. Desktops and well known packages

Debian again ships with several desktop applications and environments. Among others it now includes the desktop environments GNOME 3.38, KDE Plasma 5.20, LXDE 11, LXQt 0.16, MATE 1.24, and Xfce 4.16.

Productivity applications have also been upgraded, including the office suites:

  • LibreOffice is upgraded to version 7.0;

  • Calligra is upgraded to 3.2.

  • GNUcash is upgraded to 4.4;

Among many others, this release also includes the following software updates:

PackageVersion in 10 (buster)Version in 11 (bullseye)
BIND DNS Server9.119.16
Dovecot MTA2.
Exim default e-mail server4.924.94
GNU Compiler Collection as default compiler8.310.2
the GNU C library2.282.31
Linux kernel image4.19 series5.10 series
LLVM/Clang toolchain6.0.1 and 7.0.1 (default)9.0.1 and 11.0.1 (default)
Postfix MTA3.43.5
Rustc1.41 (1.34 for armel)1.48

2.2.2. Driverless scanning and printing

Both printing with CUPS and scanning with SANE are increasingly likely to be possible without the need for any driver (often non-free) specific to the model of the hardware, especially in the case of devices marketed in the past five years or so. CUPS and driverless printing

Modern printers connected by ethernet or wireless can already use driverless printing, implemented via CUPS and cups-filters, as was described in the Release Notes for buster. Debian 11 bullseye brings the new package ipp-usb, which is recommended by cups-daemon and uses the vendor-neutral IPP-over-USB protocol supported by many modern printers. This allows a USB device to be treated as a network device, extending driverless printing to include USB-connected printers. The specifics are outlined on the wiki.

The systemd service file included in the ipp-usb package starts the ipp-usb daemon when a USB-connected printer is plugged in, thus making it available to print to. By default cups-browsed should configure it automatically, or it can be manually set up with a local driverless print queue. SANE and driverless scanning

The official SANE driverless backend is provided by sane-escl in libsane1. An independently developed driverless backend is sane-airscan. Both backends understand the eSCL protocol but sane-airscan can also use the WSD protocol. Users should consider having both backends on their systems.

eSCL and WSD are network protocols. Consequently they will operate over a USB connection if the device is an IPP-over-USB device (see above). Note that libsane1 has ipp-usb as a recommended package. This leads to a suitable device being automatically set up to use a driverless backend driver when it is connected to a USB port.

2.2.3. New generic open command

A new open command is available as a convenience alias to xdg-open (by default) or run-mailcap, managed by the update-alternatives(1) system. It is intended for interactive use at the command line, to open files with their default application, which can be a graphical program when available.

2.2.4. Control groups v2

In bullseye, systemd defaults to using control groups v2 (cgroupv2), which provides a unified resource-control hierarchy. Kernel commandline parameters are available to re-enable the legacy cgroups if necessary; see the notes for OpenStack in Section 5.1.9, “OpenStack and cgroups v1” section.

2.2.5. Persistent systemd journal

Systemd in bullseye activates its persistent journal functionality by default, storing its files in /var/log/journal/. See systemd-journald.service(8) for details; note that on Debian the journal is readable for members of adm, in addition to the default systemd-journal group.

This should not interfere with any existing traditional logging daemon such as rsyslog, but users who are not relying on special features of such a daemon may wish to uninstall it and switch over to using only the journal.

2.2.6. New Fcitx 5 Input Method

Fcitx 5 is an input method for Chinese, Japanese, Korean and many other languages. It is the successor of the popular Fcitx 4 in buster. The new version supports Wayland and has better addon support. More information including the migration guide can be found on the wiki.

2.2.7. News from Debian Med Blend

The Debian Med team has been taking part in the fight against COVID-19 by packaging software for researching the virus on the sequence level and for fighting the pandemic with the tools used in epidemiology. The effort will be continued in the next release cycle with focus on machine learning tools that are used in both fields.

Besides the addition of new packages in the field of life sciences and medicine, more and more existing packages have gained Continuous Integration support.

A range of performance critical applications now benefit from SIMD Everywhere. This library allows packages to be available on more hardware platforms supported by Debian (notably on arm64) while maintaining the performance benefit brought by processors supporting vector extensions, such as AVX on amd64, or NEON on arm64.

To install packages maintained by the Debian Med team, install the metapackages named med-*, which are at version 3.6.x for Debian bullseye. Feel free to visit the Debian Med tasks pages to see the full range of biological and medical software available in Debian.

2.2.8. Kernel support for exFAT

bullseye is the first release providing a Linux kernel which has support for the exFAT filesystem, and defaults to using it for mounting exFAT filesystems. Consequently it's no longer required to use the filesystem-in-userspace implementation provided via the exfat-fuse package. If you would like to continue to use the filesystem-in-userspace implementation, you need to invoke the mount.exfat-fuse helper directly when mounting an exFAT filesystem.

Tools for creating and checking an exFAT filesystem are provided in the exfatprogs package by the authors of the Linux kernel exFAT implementation. The independent implementation of those tools provided via the existing exfat-utils package is still available, but cannot be co-installed with the new implementation. It's recommended to migrate to the exfatprogs package, though you must take care of command options, which are most likely incompatible.

2.2.9. Improved man page translations

The manual pages for several projects such as systemd, util-linux, OpenSSH, and Mutt in a number of languages, including French, Spanish, and Macedonian, have been substantially improved. To benefit from this, please install manpages-xx (where xx is the code for your preferred natural language).

During the lifetime of the bullseye release, backports of further translation improvements will be provided via the backports archive.

2.2.10. Improved support for alternative init systems

The default init system in Debian is systemd. In bullseye, a number of alternative init systems are supported (such as System-V-style init and OpenRC), and most desktop environments now work well on systems running alternative inits. Details on how to switch init system (and where to get help with issues related to running inits other than systemd) are available on the Debian wiki.