The new release of Debian has always been hot news as they release a new version once in a while. Developers took more than 2 years so that we can have the best experience with Debian’s known robustness.
We are going to discuss each element of the new Debian 11 so if you are planning to switch from your current distro or any other Operating System, this in-depth review of Debian will be helpful to you. So let’s start with installation.
Table of Contents
You get two types of installers for installing your Debian. One is a basic installer that is directly derived from Debian 10 and another is the Calamares installer which is only available on live CDs.
Basic Installer: A basic installer is made specifically for Debian and you won’t find any other Linux distributions using it as it seems to bit outdated and overwhelms its user with many options such as giving a separate root account, and root password, proxy, and others.
Which is not relevant for basic users and only helpful for advanced users. Since it is simple to use and allows users to skip unnecessary parts, anyone can Debian 11 using its installer.
Calamares installer: It is the most popular Linux installer as it is the default choice for many distros such as Manjaro, KDE neon, Lubuntu, EndevourOS, and many others. The reason behind its popularity is simplicity.
Debian 11 does have a Calamares installer but it’s only available in live images. The major benefit of using the live image is you can test hardware compatibility without installing it as it creates a live environment.
We suggest you use a live image so that you can check compatibility and install it if things go as smooth as intended.
There is one issue if you are going to install Debian over Wi-Fi, we highly suggest you go with a non-free version of Debian 11. Don’t worry, non-free does not mean you will have to pay for it but it will include non-free drivers.
Debian doesn’t include any proprietary in its package and during its installation, if you are using Wi-Fi you must have to choose the non-free version of Debian 11.
Debian has always been known for using fewer resources and getting the most out of the hardware. Things are going to be more fun especially if you are switching from Debian 10 to Debian 11 you will find a performance boost as the kernel has been upgraded from 4.19 to 5.10.
You can see the performance difference between Debian 10 and 11 by the given image:
According to a Phoronix report, Debian 11 brings 8-10% overall improvements so it is worth upgrading from Debian 10 to 11.
This is the major factor when choosing any distribution and we are going to discuss our experience with 3 Desktop Environments. So let’s start with the most used Desktop Environment GNOME.
Debian 11 ships with GNOME 3.38 which is not the latest version of GNOME but those who use Debian do not care about what’s the latest but have to be robust and do not harm their productivity at any cost GNOME 3.38 has done its job by being subtle and stable.
You get all the necessary tools installed such as Libre Office for your regular office work, Synaptic package manager installing, removing, and managing apps, Transmission for torrents, and the default set of GNOME apps so that you are good to go after installation.
There is only one thing that was not pleasant and that was pre-installed GNOME games. Yes, you can remove them easily but there is no point if including many titles at once.
Xfce is our personal favorite as it shares the same vision with Debian to focus more on stability than releasing new versions. Using Xfce on Debian won’t get you vibes of old software as Debian ships with the recent version of Xfce 4.16.
Xfce 4.16 has a lot of improvements compared to Xfce 4.10 which was shipped with Debian 10 such as you get better HiDPI screen support. You also get improved graphics performance and an even smoother experience with Nvidia cards.
There are some other improvements to get you a better multi-monitor experience and will bring you a new style and finish as it uses GTK 3.
But still, there are some issues with Xfce. The only con we faced using Xfce on Debian 11 is its look out-of-the-box. It is not impressive at all and its log-in screen does require some tweaks. But you get a variety of themes and customization options for Xfce by which you can make it as your preference.
Due to some reason, KDE was much slower than GNOME and Xfce in our testing. The reason why it happened is bloatware. You will get a huge amount of bloatware installed in KDE Plasma than in any other Desktop Environment.
Debian 11 ships with KDE Plasma 5.20 which is not the latest but is intended to get users a stable experience. There are some improvements compared to the previous Debian 10 which enables you the better support of GIMP themes and Kdenlive was much more responsive than the previous release.
KDE Plasma was a bit unresponsive and way more bloated than expected as it was our favorite Desktop Environment.
Now, let’s talk about Wayland as it deserves some discussion especially if you are going to use GNOME in Debian 11.
Wayland is a communication protocol that is used to specify communication between the display server and the client. Yes, you can still use Xorg in Debian 11 but no lags or slowdowns were using Wayland and Synaptic worked just fine which was not in the previous release.
But still, it requires major improvements as you can not use many apps and features such as screen-casting in ZOOM, OBS, and a color picker in GIMP.
Pros and Cons of Debian 11
Each piece of software has some pros and cons so let’s discuss them so that you can decide whether Debian 11 is suitable for you or not.
Debian is one of those rare Linux distributions which still officially supports 32-bit architecture and can be helpful to revive your old dead machine.
You get one of the largest community support as various Linux distributions are built on a Debian base so you will get your problem solved in a fraction of time.
Debian is the most stable Linux distribution you can get. Developers are more focused on the stability and robustness of their release than including the most recent version of the software and releasing a new version every six months.
There is only one con of using Debian is that the software is outdated. You get almost 1-2 years old software in their new release.
Frequently asked questions related to Debian
Is Debian any good?
Yes, Debian is the most stable Linux distribution and if you don’t care about using the latest software, Debian can be your next distro.
Why is Debian so popular?
There is only one reason behind its popularity and that is its stability. Debian is the root of many popular Linux distributions such as Ubuntu, MX Linux, and others. If you want a system that does not break, Debian is perfect for you.
Does Debian have a GUI?
Yes, by default you get 7 Desktop Environments to choose while the installation process.
Debian 11 is bundled with lots of new features and gives you various options to install such as net installer, live image, and also the non-free version. It also gives you the ability to revive your old computer as it still supports 32-bit architecture officially.
In this review of Debian 11, we have tried to include issues that we faced during its useful features which were needed the most. If using old software does not bother you then you can use Debian 11 without any issues.