Debian 12 “Bookworm” Is Out as the Best Release to Date

Powered by Linux kernel 6.1, bringing the most up-to-date Plasma 5.27.5 desktop, Debian 12 "Bookworm" is now available. Here's what is new!

The wait is over! Nearly two years after the previous Debian 11 “Bullseye” release, Debian 12 “Bookworm” is now globally available.

With its long history of stability and security, Debian 12 has been eagerly awaited by all Open Source enthusiasts worldwide. This new release brings a lot of exciting features and improvements that make it the best version to date.

So, let’s dive in and see what’s changed without further ado.

What’s New in Debian 12 “Bookworm”

As one of the oldest and most respected Linux distributions, Debian has a reputation for stability, security, and extensive software availability. In this light, Debian 12 takes a giant leap forward with its latest iteration, bringing many changes.

New Installer

Debian Installer
Debian Installer

Debian Installer is the official installation system for the Debian distribution. And related to it is one of the most significant changes in the Bookworm release that we can safely call a turning point. Here’s what it is all about.

In the entire history of the distro, non-free firmware has never been loaded by default on Debian systems. Unfortunately, this also means that the WiFi adapter, for example, will almost certainly not function on most of them. However, this is no longer the case.

According to the decision made last October by a vote among Debian’s developers, starting with Debian 12 “Bookworm,” official installation ISO images now include firmware packages from “main” and “non-free-firmware” and metadata to configure the installed system accordingly.

On top of that, the Debian Installer brings many new features from its previous official release to Debian 11, resulting in improved hardware support and some exciting new features and enhancements.

For example, the corresponding “amd64-microcode” or “intel-microcodepackage is automatically installed, providing additional support and features for the specific processor.

We will not fail to mention that the Installer now provides support for bigger prefixes, such as petabyte (PB), pebibyte (PiB), exabyte (EB), and exbibyte (EiB). In addition, the support for LVM-on-LUKS-on-RAID via a new “crypto-lvm” keyword, similar to the existing “lvm,” has also been added.

To list all changes in the Installer, visit the release announcements for the Bookworm beta and RC releases available from the Debian Installer’s news history.

System Changes

Peeking under the hood, Debian 12 comes powered by Linux kernel 6.1, an LTS (Long Term Support) kernel release, which will be supported until December 2026. In addition, users will also find systemd 252.6 and Binutils 2.40.

Moreover, in Bookworm, PipeWire audio server 0.3.65 and WirePlumber 0.4.13, a powerful session and policy manager for PipeWire, are available as a comfortable drop-in replacement for many use cases. In addition, Debian 12 now relies on PipeWire as the default sound server with GNOME Desktop.

Debian 12 comes with X.Org Server 21.1, Wayland 1.21, and Mesa 22.3. In addition, owners of NVIDIA GPUs will find the updated 525.105 version of the driver.

Updated 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 can be used as a desktop, server, or embedded device.

Debian 12 “Bookworm” presents users with an extensive range of refreshed desktop environments catering to diverse preferences and requirements.

KDE Plasma

Debian 12 "Bookworm" with KDE Plasma 5.27
Debian 12 “Bookworm” with KDE Plasma 5.27

Plasma desktop is the highlight of Debian’s twelfth major release, as it presents itself here in its most recent version Plasma 5.27.5, much to the delight of all KDE users.

Here you get all the latest new features, such as revamped Welcome app, window tiling capabilities, redesigned App Store, many GUI enhancements, and tons of improvements and bug fixes.

GNOME

GNOME 43
GNOME 43

GNOME, the other leading desktop environment, is available in its GNOME 43.4 version in the Bookworm release. Given that GNOME 44 was released recently, it predictably won’t find a place in Debian 12.

However, considering that Debian 11 “Bullseye” uses GNOME 3.38, GNOME 43 in Debian 12 provides users with an entirely new level of user experience and capabilities.

For example, 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.

Xfce

Xfce 4.18
Xfce 4.18

Xfce users will be pleased to get their hands on the Bookworm release on the latest version of this excellent lightweight desktop environment, Xfce 4.18.

This means they get all the benefits, such as the Thunar file manager can now display the count of containing files for directories in the “Size” column in the list view and a brand-new shortcuts editor and filename input widgets.

Furthermore, Xfce 4.18 can undo and redo basic file operations such as move, rename, trash, link, and create actions. And last but not least, this release brings to the scene a file highlighting, making the user experience more colorful in the literal sense.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon 5.6 desktop environment on Debian 12.
Cinnamon 5.6 desktop environment on Debian 12.

Cinnamon is a desktop environment 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.

Although users of the Bookworm release do not get the most recent 5.8 version (released only a few days ago), the available Cinnamon 5.6.8 ships with Debian 12 have much to offer.

In it, the “Show Desktop” button has been replaced with a divider and relocated to the panel far right after the clock.

Moreover, the Nemo file manager’s path bar has been significantly enhanced. The location entry is toggled by clicking on the current path. Moving to a different folder restores the path bar.

Finally, the window placement mode is back in Cinnamon 5.6 since devs removed this functionality in Cinnamon 5.4 during the Mutter rework.

MATE

MATE 1.26
MATE 1.26

MATE, the successor to GNOME 2, is introduced in the Debian 12 “Bookworm” release with its latest major 1.26 version. It includes the Wayland support extension, which reaches applications in the environment such as Atril, System Monitor, Pluma, and Terminal.

On top of that, the Control Center in MATE 1.26 features an improved Window Preferences dialog with more options.

Last, the Caja file manager gained some nifty new features, such as a new Bookmarks sidebar, support for formatting drives from the context menu, etc.

Updated Packages

Of course, almost all client apps have been updated, and Debian 12 will delight users with many new packages. To be more precise, Bookworm includes the impressive over 11,089 new packages, for a total of over 64,400.

At the same time, over 6,296 packages have been removed as obsolete. Most of the software in this release has been updated: about 43,254 software packages, or around 67% of all packages. On the client-side apps, users will find:

  • Firefox 102.12esr Web Browser
  • Thunderbird 102.9 E-mail Client
  • LibreOffice 7.4.5 Office Suite
  • GIMP 2.10.34 Image Manipulation Program
  • Inkscape 1.2.2 Vector Graphics Editor
  • Remmina 1.4.29 Remote Desktop App
  • VLC 3.0.18 Media Player

Software developers and system administrators also get many updated tools. The table below compares the versions of most major tools in Debian 12 “Bookworm” to those in the previous 11 “Bullseye” release.

PackageDebian 11Debian 12
Apache2.4.542.4.57
Nginx1.181.22
lighttpd1.4.591.4.69
BIND9.169.18
Cryptsetup2.32.6
GnuPG2.2.272.2.40
LLVM9.0.113.0.1
OpenSSH8.4p19.2p1
OpenLDAP2.4.572.5.13
Samba4.134.17
GNU C library2.312.36
Dovecot2.3.132.3.19
Exim4.944.96
Postfix3.53.7
MariaDB10.510.11
PostgreSQL1315
PHP7.48.2
Python 33.9.23.11.2
Rust1.481.63
OpenJDK1117
Perl5.325.36

Debian 12: Architectures & Support

Debian is well-known for its support for various architectures, and the Bookworm 12 release is no exception. It officially supports the following eight architectures:

  • 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)

In terms of support, there is always one stable release of Debian that has the support of the Debian security team. When a new stable version is launched, the security team will usually deal with previous versions for a year before moving on to the new/current version.

In this light, Debian 12 “Bookworm” will receive security updates until mid-2026, or one year after the launch of the future Debian 13 “Trixie” release, which is expected in mid-2025.

But what happens to Debian 11 “Bullseye”? If you don’t have a good enough reason, you don’t need to rush to upgrade to Bookworm immediately. Debian 11 will continue to receive security updates until July 1, 2024, when it will enter its LTS (Long Term Support) phase.

Debian LTS is a project that is not handled by the Debian Security team but by a separate group of volunteers and companies, which will extend the support of Debian 11 beyond 2024 by at least two more years, i.e., until June 30, 2026.

Bottom Line

Debian 12 is the best release of the Debian operating system to date. With its plethora of new features and improvements, Bookworm marks a significant milestone in the Debian project’s evolution. It is ready to serve equally well on the server front and as a desktop.

So, whether you are a long-time Debian user, new to the Linux world, or an enterprise seeking a dependable operating system, you can never go wrong with this release – it is worth checking out.

Refer to the release announcement for detailed information about all changes in Debian 12 “Bookworm.”

Additionally, you can get your copy of the Bookworm’s installation ISO from the Debian website’s download section.

Finally, if you are currently running Debian 11 “Bullseye,” our step-by-step guide will walk you seamlessly through how to upgrade to Debian 12 “Bookworm.”

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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5 Comments

  1. Sp nice to see we get the latest KDE Plasma release in stable Debian. looking forward to upgrading 🙂

  2. Dear sir,

    First problem with Debian (bookworm) 12. This page
    https://www.debian.org/CD/http-ftp/#stable
    clearly says that the filesize of the ISO image for CD
    does *_not_* exceed 650 MB.
    While, in this page, the debian-12.0.0-amd64-netinst.iso
    filesize is 738 MB. Filesize of (normal) writeable CDs are 700 MB.
    And my computer, about 12 years old, can *_not_* boot directly
    from an USB stick.
    So, I am stopped completely on this.

    I have heard about plop but there is a lot to read and
    it seems very complex, very technical…

    I am at a dead end here 🙁

    I wish someone would write a bug report at
    Debian.org about the filesize of their ISO
    image for CD. It really is a problem for which
    they are responsible.

    Gérard

  3. Go to Gérard’s link and just download the minie iso. Try not to click around. You could get lost. A lot of stuff there! Explore later.

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