Get Ready for Debian 12: A Closer Look at Just-Released RC1

What can we expect from Debian 12 "Bookworm"? Get a sneak peek of the latest features with the newly released Installer RC1.

Debian is one of the most popular, oldest, and most reliable operating systems in the Linux world. Each new release introduces several updates and features that make it even better.

So, the upcoming Debian 12 “Bookworm” is no exception. It is the next major distro’s release and is set to bring many new and exciting changes to the table.

The Debian community has been working hard on this release and recently announced the updated Debian Installer’s first release candidate (RC1) to install the upcoming Debian 12 “Bookworm” (from the current testing branch).

This is a significant milestone in the development cycle of the operating system, as it gives us a glimpse of what we can expect from the final release. So let’s look at some new features and updates that upcoming Debian 12 have in store.

Non-Free Firmware in the Installer

Non-free firmware is not loaded by default on Debian systems. This means that the WiFi adapter, for example, will almost certainly not function on most of them. However, this is no longer the case.

Starting with Debian 12 “Bookworm,” official installation ISO images include firmware packages from main and non-free-firmware and metadata to configure the installed system accordingly. So, checking the “sources.list” file reveals that the non-free-firmware repository is already available by default.

Debian 12's "sources.list" file.
Debian 12’s “sources.list” file.

The decision was made last October by a vote among Debian’s developers, who decided to include non-free firmware by default in the Debian installer. So we only can add – a smart move in the right direction because this change will make Debian feel more “whole” out of the box.

On top of that, the installer itself has also been redesigned with some new features. For example, if “/proc/cpuinfo” returns a correct value for the “vendor_id” field, such as “AuthenticAMD” for AMD-based CPUs or “GenuineIntel” for Intel-based ones, the corresponding “amd64-microcode” or “intel-microcode” package is automatically installed, providing additional support and features for the specific processor.

We used this first Bookworm Installer RC1 multiple times throughout our tests to install the upcoming Debian 12 release and ended up with an utterly workable system without any issues each time. Of course, this does not surprise us when we talk about Debian and the high standards and criteria that its developers adhere to.

Debian 12 installer.
Debian 12 installer.

Desktop Environments

Debian gained a reputation as a universal operating system due to its versatility and widespread adoption. That means a stable and reliable operating system is enough to be used as a desktop, server, or embedded device.

Debian 12 desktop users are excited as the upcoming release will bring them nearly everything from the most recent desktop environments.

Like KDE Plasma? We have good news. Debian 12 “Bookworm” will ship with the most recent and up-to-date desktop environment version – Plasma 5.27. Here you get all the latest new features, such as revamped Welcome app, window tiling capabilities, redesigned App Store, and many GUI enhancements.

KDE Plasma 5.27
KDE Plasma 5.27

The current test version of Debian 12 provides the Plasma 5.27.2 desktop environment. While the distribution is now in the Hard Freeze stage, it is unclear whether the KDE version will be upgraded to the newer 5.27.3, or the just-released Plasma 5.27.4 in its final release.

Moving on to the other leading desktop environment, where GNOME 43.3 awaits. Given that GNOME 44 was released very recently, it predictably won’t find a place in the final Debian 12 “Bookworm” release. On the other hand, including some controversial decisions makes us glad rather than upset about this turn of events.


Given that the current stable Debian 11 “Bullseye” release uses GNOME 3.38, GNOME 43 in Debian 12 provides users with an entirely new user experience and capabilities.

The new Quick Settings menu, GTK4, revamped and feature-rich Settings, and Web Apps support are just some new features that users will be pleasantly surprised with. Now let’s move on to the next desktop environment.

Cinnamon was developed and is primarily associated with Linux Mint, where it shines in all its glory and power. But at the same time, its implementation in Debian 12 is also impressive.

The upcoming distro’s release will provide users with its most recent and up-to-date version, Cinnamon 5.6, boosting the distribution in attracting users, mainly switching from Windows to Linux.

Cinnamon 5.6
Cinnamon 5.6

We’ll wrap up the review of desktop environments in this Debian Installer 12 RC1 release with Xfce, where again, users get the most recent version, Xfce 4.18.

There are tons of new features in it, and I’ll only highlight the most important ones, such as a brand-new shortcuts editor and filename input widgets, Thunar’s file highlighting, undo and redo basic file operations, improved and enhanced Xfce panel, etc.

Xfce 4.18
Xfce 4.18

System Software & Apps

Under the hood, the test Debian 12 “Bookworm” is powered by the Linux kernel 6.1 LTS, accompanied by systemd 252.6, GCC 12.2, and Binutils 2.40, which will also find a place in the final release.

The distribution comes with X.Org Server 21.1, Wayland 1.21, and Mesa 22.3. In addition, owners of NVIDIA GPUs will find the 525.89 version of the driver.

On top of that, almost all client apps have been updated as expected, and Debian 12 “Bookworm” will delight users with the following:

  • Firefox 102.9esr Web Browser
  • Thunderbird 102.9 E-mail Client
  • LibreOffice 7.4.5 Office Suite
  • GIMP 2.10.34 Image Manipulation Program
  • Remmina 1.4.29 Remote Desktop App
  • VLC 3.0.18 Media Player

Software developers also get many updated tools, including OpenJDK 17, Python 3.11, PHP 8.2, and Ruby 3.1. In addition, the databases have received an update in the face of MariaDB 10.11, PostgreSQL 15, Redis 7.0, and SQLite 3.40.

Bottom Line

The upcoming Debian 12 release is a highly anticipated event for the Linux community, so this Bookworm Installer RC1 gives a clear idea of what we can expect from the final product. The updated packages and new features promise to deliver an even more stable and reliable operating system.

It is worth noting that Debian is known for its long-term support and stability, making it an excellent choice for servers, workstations, and other mission-critical applications. So, get ready to upgrade and enjoy the latest features and enhancements in the upcoming Debian 12 “Bookworm.”

The final stable release is expected in the next two months, depending on how the bug situation plays, with June being the more realistic date. For the most impatient, the ISO images of the new Debian 12’s Installer RC1 are here.

Bobby Borisov

Bobby Borisov

Bobby, an editor-in-chief at Linuxiac, is a Linux professional with over 20 years of experience. With a strong focus on Linux and open-source software, he has worked as a Senior Linux System Administrator, Software Developer, and DevOps Engineer for small and large multinational companies.

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