Spotlight on Linux: Debian GNU/Linux 6.0 "Squeeze"

Debian is a bit unique in the Linux world. It's one of the most respected projects, it's one of the oldest distributions, and it is one of the most versatile systems. Debian comes in more architectures and more installation methods than most any other. It offers one of the widest selections of software available. In fact, it's often referred to as the Universal Operating System. It took two years, but version 6.0 finally emerged to what many say would say was worth the wait.

This release brings lots of updates to its software stack. These include goodies such as KDE 4.4.5, Xfce 4.6, LXDE 0.5.0, X.Org 7.5, 3.2.1, GIMP 2.6.11, IceWeasel 3.5.16, GCC 4.4.5, and Linux 2.6.32. Other changes include a total free (as in freedom) kernel; all proprietary code has been removed (as much as possible), although much of it is still available to install separately. The installer has been streamlined and is believed to be friendlier and now includes support for ext4 and Btrfs. Although for those with both SATA and older ATA drives might find booting the new install challenging when using non-Debian bootloaders. If using the new DVD, a plethora of software is installed at boot.

Debian comes in a variety of install methods. One can install from one or more traditional CDs, a network install image, USB, or the new cornucopia DVD. Debian can also be installed on wide range of machines from the common AMD and Intel 32-bit and 64-bit desktops and laptops, to ARM and MIPS embedded devices, SPARC, Itanium, PowerPC, and more. This release even brought 32-bit and 64-bit kFreeBSD versions. There are several "Blends," or customized versions, as well. Debian Accessibility, Debian Science, and Debian Multimedia are a few.

To many, Debian is the perfect server OS. Its rock steady stability, timely updates, and easy package management are just a few of the positive characteristics. Debian may do some things a little differently than other distributions, but once learned, Debian is almost out-of-the-box ready and practically self-sustaining.

Desktop operation isn't much different. Rock solid stability, timely updates, and easy package management are top reasons Debian is used on a large number of desktops and laptops. This release brought a new theme that has received mixed reviews. Most seem to like the space motif, while a few others say it's too child-like. No matter, Debian ships with a number of alternative theme elements.

APT on the commandline is fast and efficient, but Debian ships with an attractive, easy-to-use, click and install Software Center. Those that prefer the bleeding edge over stability can always use the Testing or Unstable branches; although it's not recommended for inexperienced users. One drawback for new users is having to install multimedia support themselves. Debian does ship with Gnash Flash movie player with which some site may not work or work very well. But otherwise, it would be hard to go wrong with Debian GNU/Linux, one of the oldest distributions still in development.

Get Debian.

Debian GNU/Linux 6.0


Susan Linton is a Linux writer and the owner of


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It's been really better

behrooz's picture

In Lenny I had a lot of problems with my nVidia card, sound card, VAIO buttons, .... In this version I Can't find a thing to fix.just anything and any button on my laptop works.
Even my screen size that made installation of anything else impossible is completely fixed(actual/Squeeze:1366*768;Lenny:1280*768).

"UP" or "Down" grade?!

Khosrow's picture

I've been using Debian (stable) for about 10 years now and usually do a simple aptitude dist-upgrade to upgrade to a new release. This time, though, I decided to follow the "instruction" given on Debian site, which recommends to first install a kernel later than 2.6-26 (mine was 2.6-18) and udev, then a minimal upgrade, and finally a dist-upgrade. it also recommends to use apt-get instead of aptitude (which was recommended in the previous releases). the result? my computer refused to boot!
I had to reinstall Debian 6 from scratch and still struggling to make my printer and scanner work. many of my configuration files, such as xorg.conf, do not work any more! many things have been replaced or done differently than the previous release (Lenny). I don't mind learning new stuff, as long as there is a point to justify it. I spent a valuable time before to learn how to configure xorg or fvwm , etc to meet my computer needs. now, that knowledge seems to be useless and I have to start over! why should I -- a normal user-- go through this process more than once?! I believe Debian should adapt more standard policies as to how things are supposed to be done in future. otherwise, some users (myself included) will start rethinking about what "stable" or "rock solid" really mean!

It's not a rolling dist, so

Anonymous's picture

It's not a rolling dist, so dist-upgrade maybe has something wrong. And it takes two years, too long, something will change!

The first sentence "I've been using Debian (stable) for about 10 years now " -- rock solid :)

Debian is awesome

Jaco Wiese's picture

Yes, I must agree with most comments. Debian is by far the most stable GNU/Linux system around. Even when running the Testing version, you will still have a mostly stable system.

I've been using Debian for quite a few years, tried other distro's but somehow I always keep coming back to debian. Ubuntu is a Debian derivitive, and thus I feel they steal code from Debian, so I refuse to support Ubuntu.

just my 2c.

I always felt Debian is a

Debian Penguin's picture

I always felt Debian is a rock solid Distro with an outstanding reputation. With an elegant, easy to learn software management system but not as easy to install as Ubuntu, so when I felt confident enough, I went to a less easier, more controlled aproach with Linux Mint Debian Edition and is the best distro I ever tried. It never failed to me. It never drove me into a situation that I could not be able to solve. My best wishes to the Linux Mint developers.


zb's picture

"Debian is a bit unique ..."

No it isn't, it is either unique or it is not, there are no degrees of uniqueness. It is a bit like being only a little bit pregnant.

And so on...

mp's picture

No it isn't, it is either a little bit pregnant or it is not. There are no degrees of being a little bit pregnant. It is like being only a little bit unique.

“Do or do not... there is no

Anonymous's picture

“Do or do not... there is no try.” - Jedi Master Yoda

What about Live DVDs?

Anonymous's picture

What about Live DVDs?
That's the easiest way to install Debian 6. Te=hen of course, you throw out lot of so-called free stuff, but useless, and install the real-world stuff and you have a system. Actually what one sees is not the operating system, but the programs we use everyday, i.e, the web browser, the word processor, etc, and we expect the OS to work silently. Debian has a habit of not working well with CDs, the disk burning software struggles to see the CD-RW or the DVD-RW, but the Windows disk burning software won't struggle and get to work anytime. The same with Unetbootin for Linux and for Windows! What goes? is Windows Vista better than Debian 6?

I was disappointed with

Anonymous's picture

I was disappointed with Debian 6 - couldn't install "Truecrypt 7.0a" and I'm using Linux for 5 years now and something like this never happened to me before. Back to Arch - what can you do......

Debian and Truecrypt 7

Wheeler's picture

Truecrypt 7 can easily be compiled from source. The source tarball from Truecrypt's site contains the instructions.


buntunub's picture

fest3er8, Rekonq is alot better. You still have Dolphin for file browsing, but for web surfing, Konqueror is past its day.

I finally dived in head first

markh's picture

been running ubuntu (my custom spin) on my desktops for a few years now and I have finally had it with the release it every 6 months whether its ready or not bs.....updates updates updates just trying to clean up their mess as they go.

I have been running debian on my servers so I said **** it and re-installed on my main work computer......I am totally loving the squeeze for my desktop (did net install) what I want (XFCE) none of what I dont (Unity/Gomesmell...uh I mean Gnome Shell) and getting the codecs (my biggest hurdle) going has been pretty easy so far.


Dont get mwrong ubuntu has its place....I still setup newbies with ubuntu but my Debian addiction is growing rapidly :)

Debian Linux! my best choice

debiantonio's picture

Debian Linux! my best choice 11 years ago! Yeahhhhh i'm debianaholic!!! :)

Have they fixed the repositories yet?

Anonymous's picture

Forgot to add

deb squeeze main

to the repositories; just has 'update' by default.

"most versatile... more

istok's picture

"most versatile... more architectures and more installation methods than most any other... widest selections of software available"

i know it's mentioned in the article as well but i'll reiterate :) cos it matters to real people in the real world: security and stability and an opportunity to customize your debian to the finest nuances and keep it very clean if you netinstall.

Iceweaseal was renamed IceCat

slackline's picture

Iceweaseal was renamed IceCat way back in 2007 (see here).

GNU version of Firefox =

Anonymous's picture

GNU version of Firefox = IceCat
Debian version of Firefox = IceWeasel

Actually, GNU IceCat was

Anonymous's picture

Actually, GNU IceCat was previously called GNU Iceweasel, at the same time Debian's Iceweasel project was running as well. 2 projects with the same name.

I switched from Ubuntu to

Anonymous's picture

I switched from Ubuntu to Debian for all my desktop and server needs after I got fed up with Ubuntu's "patch one bug create 2 new ones" way of things. It's amazing how solid this OS is.

Debian's been the best for a long time

fest3er8's picture

As I've said for a long time, if you want a rock stable GNU/Linux desktop and can tolerate using software that isn't necessarily the latest and greatest, then you cannot go wrong with Debian.

The only problems I've had with it of late is Konqueror doing weird things, lately with v5 and now with v6. Drag-n-drop text doesn't work; stuff is rendered 'out of bounds'; sliders are off-kilter; it miscomputes some divs and adds a vertical slider where there should be none. But I'm certain this is due to corruption (over 8+ years) of various files in ~/.kde. And I haven't had time to figure which files to save to retain bookmarks, history, some kmail-related stuff, passwords, et al. Otherwise I'd delete .kde/ and start anew.