Image: Debian

Debian is the “mother of all Ubuntu-based distributions” and has recently received its third point release in the Bullseye series. This release comes a brief three months out from the last point release, which might surprise users who have grown accustomed to lengthier periods between releases.

SEE: 40+ open source and Linux terms you need to know (TechRepublic Premium)

This latest release includes plenty of bug fixes and security patches … and not much else. You won’t find new features but the .3 release does resolve several security issues that should have any Debian users upgrading immediately.

The security patches include fixes for the likes of:

  • Log3j-related issues CVE-2021-4104, CVE-2022-23302, CVE-2022-23305, CVE-2022-23307, and CVE-2021-44832 (this was accomplished by removing support for the JMSSink, JDBCAppender, JMSAppender, and Apache Chainsaw modules)
  • Apache2 random memory read fix (CVE-2022-22719), fix for HTTP request smuggling issue (CVE-2022-22720), and a fix for out-of-bounds write issues (CVE-2022-22721 and CVE-2022-23943).
  • atftp fix information leak issue (CVE-2021-46671)
  • Other fixes for ClamAV, FLAC, Glibc, Golang, XTerm and more

To read the entire list of security fixes, make sure to comb through the release notes.

It should also be mentioned that the kernel shipped with 11.3 is version 5.10.0-13, which is patched against the Dirty Pipe vulnerability.

As with every release of Debian, the first thing you’ll notice is that much of the software seems to be out of date. For example, on Pop!_OS, I’m running version 7.3 of LibreOffice, but on Debian 11.3, it ships with version 7.0.4-2. To anyone who’s used Debian with any frequency, you know this is par for the course, as Debian is all about stability and not bleeding edge software. Because of that, you’ll find a lot of software packages lean more toward LTS releases. For those who prefer their desktop operating systems as rock-solid as they come, that’s a good thing … and Debian 11.3 certainly delivers on that claim of being one of the most (if not the most) stable OSes on the planet).

A unique take on modern Ubuntu security

Those who’ve used nearly any Ubuntu derivative know how security works on those systems. When you create a user upon installation, that user is automatically added to the sudo group. Not so with Debian. Although Debian does include sudo, your end-user will not be added to the group. What does that mean? Although you can install software from within the GUI software manager (such as KDE’s Discover), if you attempt to run any application that requires elevated privileges, you will either have to first su to the root user or add that standard user to the sudo group with the following steps:

  1. Open a terminal.
  2. Issue the command su - and, when prompted, type the root password.
  3. Add your user to the sudo group with usermod -aG sudo $USER.
  4. Log out and log back in for the changes to take effect.

At this point, your standard user belongs to the sudo group and can issue commands without having to change to the root user.

My take on Debian 11.3

I’ve held Debian in the highest regard for years. This is not only because it is the Linux distribution for which so many others I’ve used is based, but it’s also due to unmatched stability, predictability and security. Debian is, hands down, the most solid take on Linux you’ll ever use. And 11.3 doesn’t disappoint.

One of the beautiful things about Debian is that the developers rarely (if ever) throw a wrench into the works or take users by surprise. When you use Debian, you know exactly what you’re getting from release to release.

This time around, I installed KDE as my desktop of choice on Debian 11.3 and found it to be as familiar as any iteration of the desktop I’ve used. And given how far KDE has come over the past few years, that means the desktop doesn’t (in any way) detract from the stability of the OS as a whole. And with a few quick tweaks, the KDE desktop is exactly how I like it (including a GNOME-like desktop menu (Figure A).

Figure A

KDE switched from the standard Application Launcher to the Application Dashboard.
KDE switched from the standard Application Launcher to the Application Dashboard.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Debian is so good it’s worth the tiniest bit of extra effort you might have to go through to get it where you want it. In fact, Debian 11.3 is so good, there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be using it as your daily desktop operating system. You simply will not find a more stable OS on the planet. And as far as performance is concerned, Debian 11.3 will stand up to just about any OS. Even running this release as a virtual machine (with only 3GB of RAM and a single CPU), it performs as well as the host OS (Pop!_OS), which has considerably more resources.

If you’re looking for your next Linux distribution (or an OS to help wean you from Windows or macOS), you should consider Debian 11.3. The security and stability you will experience will have you wondering why you waited this long to jump on the Linux bandwagon.

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