What’s new in Debian 11 “Bullseye”

Debian, the forerunner of many other Linux distributions, released Release 11 in the test phase. Are you weighing the benefits of an upgrade or are you just curious about the changes? Today we take a look at the highlights.

Debian is one of the most stable and versatile Linux distributions you can find, with an eventful history dating back to 1993. Its age and stability explain why many other popular distributions like Ubuntu, Linux Mint, elementary operating system, and Raspberry Pi operating system (formally called Raspian) can trace their roots back to Debian.

Debian 11 continues its naming tradition with “Bullseye”, named after the horse figure in Pixar’s famous Toy Story series. As of now, in mid-July 2021, Bullseye is supposed to replace Debian 10.10 “Buster” in the “Stable” stage on August 14, 2021. Until then, you can bullseye at the “Test” phase. Below are the changes and improvements that you can expect.

New topic

The first thing you will notice is Bullseye’s new theme called Homeworld, created by Juliette Taka. It is inspired by the Bauhaus movement of the early 20th century and is characterized by many deep shades of blue and simple geometric shapes.


You will not only see the new theme integrated in the installer and on the desktop, but also in the GRUB menu and on the Debian websites.

Updated kernel

The Linux kernel in Bullseye has jumped from Kernel 4.19, which originally came with Buster, to 5.10. That’s an impressive leap, considering how many other distributions have been floating on or above kernel 5.4 for some time.

A newer kernel generally means better hardware support, especially if you are using newer hardware. It also means more efficient use of your resources and a plethora of minor bug fixes.

How to check the Linux kernel and operating system version

Updated package base

Bullseye includes an updated package base, with more than half of the packages present in Buster seeing upgrades. The total number of packages rounds up to a whopping 58,000. Some have been added while others that were present in Buster have been removed.

Various apps listed in the Debian 11 software store

Updates to popular packages include moving the LibreOffice suite to 7.0, moving the Calligra suite to version 3.2, and moving the GIMP to 2.10.22. In particular, you can now find the GNOME desktop environment (DE) in version 3.38, while modern distributions such as Fedora 34 and Ubuntu 21.04 ship with GNOME 40.

Other standard Debian DEs are also seeing upgrades, including Xfce moving to 4.16, LXDE to version 11, LXQt to 0.16, MATE to 1.24, and KDE Plasma to 5.20.

Printing and scanning improvements

The improvements in the CUPS and SANE utilities make printing and scanning easier with Bullseye.


Some printers and scanners require special, sometimes proprietary, drivers to work with a particular device. Such requests can annoy you, especially if other peripherals such as keyboards and mice work without errors immediately after being plugged in.

CUPS and SANE, the utility programs for managing printers and scanners, respectively, under Debian, will be updated with better capabilities for handling these devices. So, if you have a printer or scanner that usually requires certain drivers to work with your device, Bullseye could get it working right away. The Debian team Reports that this should work particularly well with printing or scanning equipment that “came on the market in the last five years or so”.

Improved password security

Debian 11 replaces the standard encryption algorithm for local account passwords with jacrypt. Buster uses SHA-512 by default and does not support Yescrypt. This change addresses some security and efficiency issues that were encountered in SHA-256 and SHA-512. Above all, Fedora Linux is expected follow him with its next release.

For obvious reasons, this change can cause problems when upgrading from Buster to Bullseye. In this case, follow Debian Recommendations.

Support for exFAT file systems

Earlier editions of Debian relied on a specific workaround that Filesystem in Userspace (FUSE) used to mount and use exFAT-formatted drives. With the new kernel, exFAT partitions receive native support on Bullseye.

This is a relief for those who frequently work with external drives that have been formatted on Windows or macOS devices. You will find that your exFAT drives mount easily, and the exfatprogs package allows you to create your own exFAT partitions.

How to install or update Debian 11

This article covers only a fraction of the changes in Debian 11. For a complete overview, be sure to read the official release notes for bullseye. If you are using Debian 10 and want to upgrade, be sure to follow the official upgrade instructions.


It’s worth noting that Buster will continue to receive security updates through July 2022 and long-term support through June 2024.

If you are interested in a fresh live boot or install, the bullseye image can be found on Debian testing Page up to the publication date and then in stable. You can then install it on a drive or in a virtual machine.

Warning: As long as it is still in the test, Bullseye is prone to errors and does not receive any emergency security patches and is therefore not suitable as an everyday driver. You install it at your own risk.

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