A long time ago, I used to regularly post an overview of noteworthy changes in the Mandriva development version. For years now I am using Debian testing though. With the release of Debian 12 Bookworm, I though it could be interesting to keep track of noteworthy changes in the upcoming Debian version, Trixie.
I will be tracking sid trough the debian-devel-changes maling list. Usually about 10 days after a package entered sid, it should move to testing, at least if there are not important bugs in the package. The selection of which packages I mention here, is very personal. I will try to cover important changes for both desktop and server packages, but this list will never be complete. If you noticed an interesting change not mentioned, feel free to add a comment to this article.
I’m not sure whether I will make this kind of post regularly without interruption, but let’s see where this goes.
The first week of development, saw a huge amount of packages updated to the latest upstream versions. Some of these were already available in Experimental for some time. Let’s dive in.
Kernel, hardware support, low-level libraries
The Linux kernel was updated to the 6.3 series, coming from 6.1 in Bookworm. I refer to kernelnewbies.org for a complete overview of what’s new in Linux 6.2 and Linux 6.3, but I can mention BTRFS performance improvements in both versions (including
discard=async being default on SSDs with TRIM support, performance improvements if you are using an Intel Skylake CPU and add
retbleed=stuff to the kernel options and the usual driver improvements which improve hardware support, for example for the current Intel Arc GPUs. If you have an AMD processor with at least the Zen2 microarchitecture, you can enable the new amd_pstate_epp frequency scaling driver by adding the kernel option
btrfs-progs has been updated to version 6.3.1. The major change in the 6.3 series is that block-group-tree is out of experimental mode. This will reduce the mount time of BTRFS file systems. You can enable this on an existing file system with the command
btrfstune --convert-to-block-group-tree <device>
Developers warn to be careful, because there might still be bugs.
The Mesa 3D drivers were upgraded from version 22.3.6 to 23.1.2. You will want to upgrade to this version if you are using an Intel Arc GPU because there have been many bug fixes. Also new in Mesa 23.1 is OpenCL support for AMD GPUs using rusticl.
power-profies-daemon version 0.13 entered Debian Sid. It adds support for the amd_pstate_epp driver which can be activated in Linux 6.3.
Tthe LLVM based Fortran compiler Flang is now available in Debian as the package flang-15. LLVM 16 is available in sid. Clang 16 and libc++ 16 are only available in experimental at this time and version 15 is still the default version in sid.
Server and virtualization
Samba 4.18.3 brings some performance improvements relative to version 4.17.8 in Bookworm.
Qemu was updated to 8.0.2. The 8 series brings various improvements, but maybe the most important thing to mention is that virtiofsd, a daemon which allows you to share directories on the host with guests, is not included in the qemu package any more. If you use this, you will need to install the new virtiofsd package which contains a new implementation in Rust.
LibreOffice is now at version 7.5.4. The 7.5 series bings improved dark mode support, new application icons, nicer default table styles in Draw and Impress and other various improvements. See the release notes and the New Features in Libreoffice 7.5 video for more information.
This week we saw the first GNOME 44 packages enter sid. gnome-backgrounds 44 brings you new desktop wallpapers and evolution 3.48 brings lay-out improvements. If you don’t like the headerbar layout, you can disable it and switch back to the traditional toolbar.
New in Debian is the gdm-settings package. It lets you configure the GDM login manager and change its appearance through a user friendly user interface.
NetworkManager-openconnect 1.2.10 finally adds support for Single Sign-on implementations using SAML on the Cisco AnnyConnect and Palo Alto GlobalProtect VPNs. Unfortunately it does not seem to work for Pulse/Juniper. I have opened an issue for that, and in the meantime I use openconnect-pulse-gui.
The Transmission Bittorrent client 4 has moved from C to C++, uses less CPU and memory and has support for the Bittorrent v2 protocol, amongst other improvements.
The first KDE Gear 23.04 applications are now being uploaded to sid. Now in the repositories is the KDE Mastodon client Tokodon. Gwenview (supports pinch gestures to zoom in Wayland mode), Ghostwriter (automatic language detection for the spellchecker) and the Falkon web browser (dark colour scheme support) were updated to 23.04.
Tellico, the application which helps you to keep track of your music, movie and other collections has support for new data sources and improved support for existing data sources and has reports with an image grid.
Thhe dav1d AV1 video decoder was update d from 1.0 to version 1.2.1. This version brings many performance improvements thanks to new SIMD code. Also the svt-av1 encoder and decoder was updated to version 1.5.0, also adding some optimizations.
There are plans to remove the old SDL 1.2 packages, replacing them by SDL12-compat (Debian package libsdl1.2-compat-shim) which implements SDL 1.2 using the SDL 2. Version 1.64, which entered sid, added compatibility for some old games, such as Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri and others.
Science, education and technical tools
GNU Octave 8.2 brings improved Matlab compatibility, the GUI has dark mode support and various other improvements.
The R statistical computing programming (package r-base) 4.3.1 (was 4.2.2 in Bookworm) brings many new features.
People who are into geographic information systems will by happy with the QGIS update. Version 3.28 introduces many improvements. Look at the changelog for more details.
The Electronics Design Automation Suite kicad has been updated to version 7. I don’t know anything of this kind of software, but the release announcement lists a large number major of improvements.
The first week of Trixie development saw a huge amount of software enter Debian sid. This is of course due to the backlog of all new upstream versions which could not be submitted during the Bookworm freeze, are now all trickling in now. Some of these packages were already in Experimental.
My personal favourites are Linux 6.3 which now allows me to use the amd_state_epp driver and Evolution 3.48, which has an some improvements to the UI which I like a lot.
Now that the first flood of new packages have arrived, things will probably calm down a bit, also because of the upcoming summer and holidays in the northern hemisphere. But I guess we will see more of GNOME 44 and KDE Gear 23.04 entering sid soon.