Debian 9, “Stretch”, has been released, and dedicated to the distribution's co-founder Ian Murdock.
Murdock committed suicide in 2015 but as the Debian developers' dedication records, “It is difficult to exaggerate Ian's contribution to Free Software. He led the Debian Project from its inception in 1993 to 1996, wrote the Debian manifesto in January 1994 and nurtured the fledgling project throughout his studies at Purdue University.”
“Debian's success is testament to Ian's vision,” the dedication continues. “He inspired countless people around the world to contribute their own free time and skills. More than 350 distributions are known to be derived from Debian.”
“We therefore dedicate Debian 9 'Stretch' to Ian.”
The big change in “Stretch” is MariaDB replacing MySQL as the default database, reflecting the open source community's discomfort with the now-Oracle-owned MySQL.
Another notable change is the return of Firefox and Thunderbird to the distribution. For over a decade Debian's used Mozilla's software but re-branded them Iceweasel and Icedove as Mozilla had trademarks on its logos. Those trademarks were felt to infringe the Debian Free Software Guidelines, but they've been tickled to make use of Mozilla's own names and logos acceptable.
Of more importance to users, Stretch adopts the most modern
gnupg package, which will make for better encryption. Improved UEFI support means Debian live images now work on UEFI-equipped machines, plus Debian installations on 32-bit UEFI firmware with a 64-bit kernel.
Stretch has also spawned new version of “Skolelinux”, aka Debian Edu, which offers “ an out-of-the box environment of a completely configured school network.”
Stretch will be supported for five years and is available here to download, torrent, or buy on removable media. Complete release notes are here. Debian 8, “Jessie” users, are advised their OS will auto-upgrade if they choose to do so.
Debian releases are named after characters in Pixar's Toy Story films. Stretch is “a fun-loving under-the-sea octopus friend who shines in glittery purple.” The character is an antagonist in Toy Story 3, but comes good in the end. ®