Debian, one of the most widely used Linux distributions, has been updated with the release of Debian 8 'Jessie', which now uses systemd to initialise the system and ships with updated versions of the Gnome desktop and numerous other enhancements.
Available to download now, Debian 8 is one of the last Linux distributions to make the switch to using systemd as the default init system for starting up the system. Sysvinit is still supported for those who want it, but systemd provides more advanced monitoring, logging and service management capabilities, according to the Debian project.
Debian 8 also introduces changes to the processor architectures it supports, a sign of the shifting fortunes of platforms since the previous 'Wheezy' release in 2013.
In comes 64-bit ARM processor support and a 64-bit 'little endian' port for IBM Power systems, while out goes Itanium and Oracle's Sparc chips owing to insufficient developer support.
Most of the software in the distribution has been updated, according to the Debian developers, and now includes over 12,253 new packages out of a total of 43,512, a substantial increase over 'Wheezy'.
One of the most notable is the Gnome 3.14 desktop environment, which offers a revamped user interface although, as is usual with Linux, users have a choice of running KDE 4.11, Xfce 4.10 or LXDE.
This version also now includes the recently released MariaDB 10.0 database platform as an alternative to the venerable MySQL 5.5 release, but the Debian project said that only one of these is likely to be included in the next Debian 9 version, perhaps hinting that MySQL is to be dropped.
Security enhancements in this version see the legacy secure sockets layer SSLv3 protocol disabled. Many system cryptography libraries as well as servers and client applications have been compiled or configured without support for this protocol, according to the Debian developers, while the Linux kernel features a security mechanism which nullifies many symlink attacks and is enabled in Debian by default.
Upgrades to Debian 8 from Debian 7 should be handled automatically by the apt-get package management tool for most configurations, according to Debian. Alternatively, installation images may be downloaded via BitTorrent, and the software is also available on DVD or CD.
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