Debian 5.0 Lenny: Good For Servers

CloudDatacentreOpen SourceSoftware

Named for a Toy Story character, the new Debian is a serious contender for open source server deployments

Debian GNU/Linux, the open-source operating system that’s proven more influential than any Linux flavour this side of Red Hat, recently hit the Internet’s FTP mirrors in the form of an updated 5.0 release.

Version 5 of the Debian GNU/Linux open-source operating system offers the same top management tools and processor support as previous versions of the Linux operating system. There also are a host of updates to open-source components, and the Linux distribution is still a great fit for servers and a solid desktop choice. However, the top reason for upgrading from version 4 may be the relatively short three-year security fix window, less than the coverage time offered with Ubuntu and Red Hat Enterprise Linux-derived CentOS.

Version 5, which is also known by the Toy Story-inspired name “Lenny,” sports the same excellent software management tools and broad processor architecture support that marked previous Debian releases. In addition, the new release includes a host of updates to the open-source components that comprise it.

Unlike the Debian 4 release that I last reviewed, which impressed me with its disk encryption leadership among rival Linux distributions, Lenny doesn’t significantly advance the state of Debian or of Linux in general. Beyond its slate of software package refreshes, the best reason for existing Debian users to upgrade to the new version is that, as per the project’s security policy, version 4 will fall out of security fix coverage one year after Lenny’s Valentine’s Day release date.

Stability and long life are frequently cited as the chief reasons for choosing Debian, particularly in server roles for which administrators might wish to “set and forget” their machines. However, the roughly three-year security fix window that applies to Debian releases falls short of the five years of coverage that Ubuntu offers for its Long Term Support releases, or the seven years that the similarly free-to-acquire CentOS derives from the Red Hat Enterprise Linux releases on which CentOS is based.

Still, Debian is a great fit for server deployments, and is particularly well-suited for hosting applications that draw on open-source components, such as Apache, MySQL, or any of the other thousands of applications that the Debian project has packaged up for easy installation over one of the project’s many repository mirror sites.