Long-awaited “Lenny” has finally been out! After 22 months of development, Debian development team announced the official release of Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 on 14th of February as planned (well, at least in American Samoa, which happens to be located in UTC-11.) and the very same day I installed and tested it on my laptop.
This is the first time that a Debian release comes with a graphical installer, though the text-based installation is still the default option. The Debian installer in the DVD that I have used offered different options like expert mode, default desktop selection, etc. The overall installation process was easy and smooth. One of the good things was having the chance to load non-free firmwares from a USB flash drive during the installation because my laptop has Intel 4965 AGN wifi, which needs some binary firmware to work.
You can also choose the mount options of the partitions while you are installing the system, no need to edit fstab. I always use relatime.
One thing to mention is that if you have an ntfs partition, you need to install ntfs-3g yourself because it is not installed automatically. So you may need to edit your fstab in that case, no big deal anyway.
Even if Distrowatch says Lenny uses Gnome 126.96.36.199, it ships with Gnome 2.22.3. However, some packages are still in their 2.20 version. One of those kept back packages is gnome-panel. It is a very good decision to keep gnome-panel in version 2.20 because even in Ubuntu Hardy, which ships 2.22, the panel and applets crash too often. The other important package in version 2.20 is nautilus. Gvfs is not implemented in Lenny since it is thought to be “not stable and featured enough for a stable Debian release.” So Lenny uses “patched, rock-solid version of gnome-vfs instead”.
Lenny comes with native Flash support both in desktop and in the browser. It uses swfdec to view flash files and objects but I can’t say it’s an effective decoder. The quality of flash videos with swfdec-mozilla were so low that I immediately had to switch to non-free flash plug-in.
X.Org version in Lenny is 7.3, which brings support for input/output hotplug. Some other important novelties in base system is mlocate replacing locate, and rsyslog replacing sysklogd/klogd.