Debian 9 Stretch Stable Is Released! Check Out The New Features

Brief: This article discusses the new features in Debian 9 codenamed Stretch.

Debian 9 Stretch has been released two years after the last major release Debian 8 codenamed Jessie. Before we see Debian 9 features, let me add an anecdote about those funny sounding code names. 

Logic behind Debian codenames 

Did you know that Debian codenames are based on the characters in the animated movie series Toy Story? This is the reason why you see codenames like Buzz, Woody, Jessie etc. All of these are Toy Story characters. Debian 9 release has been named after the Octopus toy Stretch

You can read this article to learn the logic behind the codenames of other Linux distributions. Now that you learned some fun facts, let’s see what are the new features in Debian 9.

New Features in Debian 9 Stretch

Default desktop background in Debian 9
Default desktop background in Debian 9

Main highlights of the Debian 9 release are:

  • Support for 32-bit PCs with i586 architecture has been dropped
  • Linux Kernel 4.9 LTS series
  • Set of new digital forensic tools
  • PHP 7.0 will be the default
  • GCC 6 will be the default compiler
  • Python 3.5 will default
  • MariaDB to replace MySQL
  • X.Org Server 1.19.2
  • systemd 232

You can find more on the changes in Debian 9 here.

For more details and download links, visit the official web page of Debian 9:

Debian 9 Stretch

systemd is a touchy topic here. Though most big distributions such as Debian, Arch, Ubuntu etc moved to systemd, it prompted some developers to work on projects to retain init.

And thus we see the first stable release of Devuan Linux last week. Devuan is a systemd-free fork of Debian 8. So, now you have a choice between Debian and a systemd-free Debian version. 

Back to Debian 9. Did you like Debian 9 features? Do you have a plan to upgrade to the latest version or will you hold it for some time?

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  • The argument for lesser rather than more distros has been an ongoing one since at least the turn of the millennium. It runs parallel to the desire of some in the political realm that lesser number of political parties and the ideologies they represent is better i.e. lesser confusion and need to be informed about them for the average Joe or Mary on the street. We live in a world where the opinion of one or a few often matters not to another in a different part of town let alone the world at large. I don’t ever think I’ll get see a future where the number of distros get reduced to be but a handful from the present hundreds even thousands. Many of them do serve specific, niche needs e.g. cloud computing, penetration testing, old, dated hardware, multimedia production, hobbyist, etc. No one distro will ever be the catch-all and end all.

    As with the commandline, I encountered a dude on an Arch-related channel on the freenode irc network who argued that there is no place for the obscurity, technical complexity even existential need for anything to do with the CLI in this the new millennium. He says asking any a would-be newcomer coming from the Windows or Mac operating systems to even get to know the commandline is tantamount to demanding someone who just wants to be driving to get to know the internals of e.g. engine combustion. I will say I find that argument misleading. While you do not need to be an expert on engine combustion, the inability to differentiate the brakes from the accelerator or lacking an understanding of highway code, driving regulations and road etiquette I think will be impediment s (not insurmountable), no?

    The Linux ecosystem is simply a different one to Windows and Mac OS. The differences between Linux and Windows and Mac is equivalent to the differences between countries say Bolivia and France; the USA and Iran; India & Pakistan. Bar the fact that people regardless of their country of origin, race, language, religion, socioeconomic class, caste and lifestyle preference all bleed red when cut opened, the laws, customs, traditions, mores, values, habits, attitudes are different between countries. Similarly for the OSes, over the years of near independent (bar a few negligible projects at inter-OS cooperation mainly dealing with compatibility) development, all 3 OSes have evolved separately. So learn to live with it. If you can’t or won’t accept the differences or that there is a need for differences, as with the saying if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen, here similarly, don’t like an OS or distro because it forces you out of your comfort zone, then stick to your comfort zone and continue using the OS or distro you enjoy. You have a choice and I’m for choice over the lack of choice anytime, anywhere :).

  • I have been using Linux off and on since 1999 and much prefer an old school Linux install with the traditional SysV style init system along with a traditional Root account as well as a separate user account. Is the traditional init system better than Systemd? From an old school Linux user who understands how the old init system works and how to change run levels I would have to say no and perhaps if just looking at Systemd’s init system the Systemd is probably better but unfortunately the developers of Systemd have in my opinion and that of a large percentage of older users feel that they have violated a basic tenant of Linux that was brought over from Unix and that is to create a utility etc that does one thing and does that really well. The traditional init system only task was to initilaze a Linux system during the boot process. All the rest of tasks that need to be managed in a OS were handled by different and separate utilities that did their jobs really well and were very easy on system resources and for a lot of things there were a lot of choices as to what utility to use because there usually were several different ones that did the same thing, kind of like the choice in media players. So the developer of a distro or the end user if they did not like a particular utility that came as default with their distro could easily change it. Unfortunately the Systemd devs have decided that their package should be a Swiss army knife and do all things that are needed in your OS thus taking away the end users FREEDOM of choice. This freedom is and has always been the most important and a fundamental tenant of running Linux. However there seems to be a lot of lazy devs out there that just want Systemd to do everything for them. This is the problem with having so many distros of Linux there are a lot of guys out there that I feel are probably fairly new to Linux who perhaps were devs who have migrated over from Windows and do not have a good grasp and understanding of what has made Linux so great until fairly receintly and I believe that it is because Linux has always adhered to the KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid) principle, This is where the mantra of creating software and utilities that did one thing well and leave all the other tasks for a different app or utility came from. The basic problem I have personally with Systemd is not so much that it was created but that so many distros, like almost all of them have all adopted Systemd and have done so far too quickly and not enough developers fought against this new 800lb Gorilla on the block this new Monolithic Behemoth called Systemd. This new and so called improved init system has taken over the Linux landscape and already has restricted our freedom of choice. All too many software packages have begun listing Systemd as a hard dependency, you want to run our application well you just have to sign over your rights to having a freedom of choice. Even if you wanted to use a traditional init system and pick and choose all of the other utilities that are needed if you want there is still a couple of distros you can use and one of Gentoo. Oh that is almost true it is not if you happen to prefer the Gnome desktop because guess what, to use Gnome the devs of Gnome force you to also use Systemd because they have decided to make Systemd a hard requirement to use Gnome. I mentioned that I have used Linux off and on since around 1999, all of my computers dual booted Linux with Windows up until all of the Disros jumped on the Pulse Audio Sound Server all too quickly. I bring up Pulse Audio because though different I feel the same mistakes are being made with a too rapid deployment of Systemd. I cannot remember the exact date but it was probably around 2007 or 2008 when I stopped using Linux on a regular basis because I just got tired of chasing sound related issues that it seemed that no one was able to solve. Back at the beginning of Pulse Audio the vast majority of developers of distros did not understand how it worked and as a result there were a lot of crappy implementations of Pulse Audio and quite frankly the average user does not really need a sound server to begin with. Even if you have pulse installed you still need the old tried and true ALSA for the drivers to make your sound card work, Pulse Audio is just a sound server and has no drivers and has to use ALSA to output audio. Yes in some cases a sound server is more flexible but for most people they are only needing to do one thing with their sound at one time, they are watching a movie, or steaming in a video from Youtube or Netflix or playing some music and really do not need the added complexity or features of Pulse Audio. It first came on the sceen around 2004 but one of the major issues was that almost nothing was compatible with Pulse, OSS, ALSA as well as probably all applications that did anything with audio on Linux would not work with Pulse and all of it needed to be rewritten, and eventually even the Pulse API had to be rewritten. I cannot remember exactly when it seemed that all Distros were forcing Pulse Audio on everyone but I think it was probably around 2007 there is a quote from a developer of Ubuntu that stated on 2009 that he still was not satisfied with how Pulse worked in Ubuntu. Probably one of the major issues was caused by the simple fact that all of the audio applications had to be rewirtten and this took time. It was around this time, might have been 2008 that I pretty much stopped using Linux. At least if you really do not want to use Pulse Audio you could probably get rid of it but not so with Systemd and Systemd is far more dangerous and over reaching than Pulse Audio ever was. Today almost 19 years later the audio issues have been sorted out even with the intergraton of Pulste Audio. However I still feel strongly that the use of Pulse Audio or for that matter the use of any sound server should be optional and so should the use of Systemd. Everyone should have the option of using any init system that they choose and should be able to change as easily as it is to install or uninstall software using your package manager. All of the extra stuff that curretnly is in Systemd should be cut loose as independant utilites and give back the develops of Distros and the end user the freedom to pick and choose what software and utilities that power their Linux Box. I suppose that I will have to use Systemd whether i want to or not because all of the dev’s have decided to unilaterally take away my freedom of choice and this is what has me upset much more that a collection of software tools. I also fear that the longer that Systemd is used in its present state that as time passes we users of Linux will experience an alarming erosion of choice and freedom and in a few years because too many have given over their choice and power of choice to a handful of developers of Systemd and we will wake up to an ecosystem that will not be too different than if we were using Microsucks OS’s because we will probably loose all of our freedoms that we currently or at least that we had before Systemd was universally adopted.

    • My primary OS is Ubuntu after somebody formatted my hard disc (as a prank?) and I was told that the key for Windows was missing.

      I carry out all tasks on Ubuntu (I could not install Debian) and do not care whether it is init, or systemd or systeme. You want more people to use Linux as desktop OS, make it simpler and fewer distributions.

      I come to this site with the hope that the voice of a non power user will be heard. (I can work with commandline without difficulty)

      • Hey
        You probably needed the non-free Debian iso for the drivers..

        I’m not religious about the init system. I held on to sysV until systemd was stable.
        It is, lets move on. I trust the Debian team and that’s what counts. Debian stable was and is solid a a rock. Is Devaun?

        I run servers I manage on stable (mostly KVM & asterisk) and my home systems on testing, which I’ve just updated without issue. Currently going back and forth between Budgie and XFCE for the desktop. Budgie is looking better and better as it matures.

        Little jealous of LXD in Ubuntu but not enough take the instability, esp around version updates. It will come to Debian sooner or later.

    • parallelism – systemd takes advantage of having processors with multiple cores to start up. Once that systemd is upported to Noobuntu which loads a bunch of crap at start-up, you’ll see the difference.

      If you profile your hardware and just load support for that in your kernel, the difference between systemd- init is minimal.

    • Systemd is a collection of services to do a lot of system tasks like running daemons, logging, NTP sync, netowrk management. init was just a init system, used to start services and nothing else. Arguments for systemd: fast startup, programmable, scriptable, has a nice dbus interface and makes the devOps job easier. Agruments against: needs the whole stack for power, logging and daemon services – a bit less flexible, lazyness to type systemctl start etc…

      • Sorry my friend, but respectfully, that’s plain wrong. Init is a daemon itself, just like systemd. They both are and do the same through different paths.

        -You don’t need the whole stack. You can strip off what you don’t want. Open your .target files and remove the crap that you don’t need or want.
        -“Running daemons” already implies logging(bootlogd daemon), NTP sync(ntpd daemon), Network daemon (network-manager/rhnsd Debian/RH).
        -If you don’t want to type systemctl start every single time, you type instead “systemctl enable “. Cheers. Verg

  • I’m “not dev enough” to fully appreciate the differences between systemd and various earlier init systems. The last time I tried pure Debian was 6-8 years ago (didn’t work overly well for newbie me), and at that point I started using Ubuntu and then Mint with such success that I haven’t felt the need to deviate from the friendlier, derivative distros.

    Maybe I will try it on a rainy day?

    –Kirk in MN