Debian 7.0 Wheezy

Debian 7.0 (Wheezy) is out and it’s time for another review of this venerated linux project.

Debian is the granddaddy of Linux distros, it forms the basis for Ubuntu, Linux Mint and many other desktop linux distros. Yet many folks who are new to Linux might not even have heard of Debian. This is a shame because it has quite a lot to offer in its own right, aside from everything it provides to other desktop distros.

There are three main branches of Debian:


Debian 7 is the latest stable release.

Debian 7 Preinstall Boot Menu
Debian 7 Preinstall Boot Menu

Wikipedia has a very good background article on Debian that you should read if you’re new to it. It will give you much more information than I can provide in this review.

Here’s a sample:

“Debian is one of the most influential open source projects known as a Linux distribution, and maintains repositories with over 29,000 software packages ready for installation. Its repositories host large numbers of software packages for multiple architectures, more in number than any other Linux distribution project[citation needed]. Debian hosts software in additional repositories called “non-free” but offers its distribution setup without it. Debian is seen as a solid Linux and has been forked many times (Debian derivatives).

Debian hosts experimental kernel choices for its distribution while pushing the boundaries to support more hardware devices. There are development packages for architectures for the FreeBSD kernel (kfreebsd-i386 and kfreebsd-amd64) and Hurd kernel, making Debian the only operating system that offers three different kernels; Linux being the most adopted for stability. Supported architectures range from the Intel/AMD 32-bit/64-bit architectures commonly found in personal computers to theARM architecture commonly found in embedded systems and the z/Architecture found in mainframe computers.[12]

Debian includes popular programs such as LibreOffice,[13] Iceweasel (a rebranding of Firefox), Evolution mail, CD/DVD writing programs, music and video players, image viewers and editors, and PDF viewers. The cost of developing all the packages included in Debian 5.0 lenny (323 million lines of code), using the COCOMOmodel, has been estimated to be about US$ 8 billion.[14] Ohloh estimates that the codebase (54 million lines of code), using the COCOMO model, would cost aboutUS$ 1 billion to develop.[15]

The Debian standard install makes use of the GNOME desktop environment. There are pre-built CD images for KDE Software CompilationXfce and LXDE also.[16]The remaining discs, which span five DVDs or over thirty CDs, contain all packages currently available and are not necessary for a standard install. Another install method is via a net install CD, which is much smaller than a normal install CD/DVD. It contains only the bare essentials needed to start the installer and downloads the packages selected during installation via APT.[17] These CD/DVD images can be freely obtained by web download, BitTorrentjigdo or from online retailers.[18]

What’s New in Debian 7.0

Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

  • Apache 2.2.22
  • Asterisk
  • GIMP 2.8.2
  • an updated version of the GNOME desktop environment 3.4
  • GNU Compiler Collection 4.7.2
  • Icedove 10 (an unbranded version of Mozilla Thunderbird)
  • Iceweasel 10 (an unbranded version of Mozilla Firefox)
  • KDE Plasma Workspaces and KDE Applications 4.8.4
  • kFreeBSD kernel 8.3 and 9.0
  • LibreOffice 3.5.4
  • Linux 3.2
  • MySQL 5.5.30
  • Nagios 3.4.1
  • OpenJDK 6b27 and 7u3
  • Perl 5.14.2
  • PHP 5.4.4
  • PostgreSQL 9.1
  • Python 2.7.3 and 3.2.3
  • Samba 3.6.6
  • Tomcat 6.0.35 and 7.0.28
  • Xen Hypervisor 4.1.4
  • the Xfce 4.8 desktop environment
  • X.Org 7.7
  • more than 36,000 other ready-to-use software packages, built from nearly 17,500 source packages.

For desktop users, the updated software in Debian 7 will be quite welcome (see the software section for a list of bundled applications in Debian 7).

Multiarch support is included in Debian 7, thus allowing users to install packages from different architectures on the same machine. So you can install 32-bit and 64-bit versions of software on the same computer, and the dependencies will all be resolved automatically for you.

Debian 7 also offers software speech installation, a particularly helpful feature for those who are visually impaired.

This release also supports booting and install using UEFI for 64-bit computers, but lacks support for Secure Boot.

System Requirements for Debian 7.0

Debian 7 is available for a number of different architectures, so it’s impractical to list system requirements here. See the install guide links in the install section of the review for the system requirements for your architecture.

Debian 7 System Settings
Debian 7 System Settings

Debian 7.0 Download

You can download Debian 7.0 from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 4 GB. You have the option of trying Debian as a live distro before installing, or  you can simply opt to download an install version right away. I did the latter as I intended to install and use it anyway.

If you’re a distrohopper then you might want to try it in a virtual machine via VirtualBox before running it on real hardware.

Debian is available for numerous architectures, I recommend reading the release notes for yours.

Debian 7.0 Installation

Debian 7 offers a choice between a text-based installer or a graphical installer. I opted for the graphical version.

The Debian 7 install routine is better than it used to be, but it still isn’t as comfortable or fast as Linux Mint’s or Ubuntu’s. Experienced Linux users will most likely have no problem whatsoever with it, but newer folks might stumble if it’s their first time trying to install Debian.

Here’s a list of install guides (system requirements are included) for the architectures that Debian supports:

The screenshots below will walk you through some of the Debian 7 install.

Debian 7 Install Root Password
Debian 7 Install Root Password
Debian 7 Install User Account
Debian 7 Install User Account
Debian 7 Install Partition Disks
Debian 7 Install Partition Disks
Debian 7 Install Disk Partition
Debian 7 Install Disk Partition
Debian 7 Install Network Mirror
Debian 7 Install Network Mirror
Debian 7 Install Archive Mirror
Debian 7 Install Archive Mirror
Debian 7 Install Software Selection
Debian 7 Install Software Selection
Debian 7 Install GRUB
Debian 7 Install GRUB
Debian 7 Install Complete
Debian 7 Install Complete
Debian 7 GRUB Installed
Debian 7 GRUB Installed
Debian 7 Login
Debian 7 Login

The Debian 7.0 Desktop

Debian 7 comes with GNOME 3.4 and GNOME Classic. Initially, I booted into the GNOME 3 environment. Ick, a few minutes of it was all I could stand. So I logged out, and used GNOME Classic instead. I found it to be much more to my liking.

I have tried to warm up to GNOME 3 several times, and always ended up despising it. To me it’s really a toss up as to which one sucks more: GNOME 3 or Unity. I suppose the one I dislike most is the one I’m using at a particular moment. Anyway, I digress.

So I recommend giving GNOME Classic a shot instead. But then again, I’m old school when it comes to desktop interfaces. Your mileage may vary considerably, so use whichever works best for you.

Debian 7 GNOME 3 Applications
Debian 7 GNOME 3 Applications
Debian 7 GNOME Classic Desktop
Debian 7 GNOME Classic Desktop
Debian 7 GNOME Classic Application Menu
Debian 7 GNOME Classic Application Menu

Linux Software Included in Debian 7.0

Here’s a sample of the linux software included in this release.

Logic Games
AisleRiot Solitaire
Free Cell Solitaire

Document Viewer
Image Viewer
Inkscape Vector Graphics Editor
LibreOffice Draw
Shotwell Photo Manager
Simple Scan

Desktop Sharing
Email Settings
Empathy Internet Messaging
Iceweasel Browser
Remote Desktop Viewer
Transmission BitTorrent Client

Brasero Disc Burner
Cheese Webcam Booth
Movie Player
Rhythmbox Music Player
Sound Juicer Audio CD Extractor
Sound Recorder

Evolution Mail and Calendar
LibreOffice (Base, Calc, Draw, Impress and Writer)

Linux Software Management Tools in Debian 7.0

If you are comfortable with the command line, you can use APT to manage your software in Debian 7. You can also use Synaptic. Synaptic is powerful, but potentially confusing for folks new to Debian.

Debian 7 Synaptic Package Manager

However, if you prefer a graphical software management tool that is a bit easier to use, you can opt for the Add/Remove tool instead. It’s not as slick as Ubuntu’s Software Center or Linux Mint’s Software Manager, but it will get the job done.

Debian 7 Add or Remove Software
Debian 7 Add or Remove Software

Debian 7 Software Updates

Just find the application you want to install, click the checkbox next to it then click the Apply button. Uncheck it and click Apply to remove it later if you want.

Problems & Headaches Found in Debian 7.0

One thing I found distasteful was how an ad blocker was automatically installed in Iceweasel. When I opened Iceweasel, I got a confirmation that it was installed. I was not asked if I wanted it, it just appeared there without any input from me.

This is an odd decision on the part of the Debian developers, assuming they were the ones who made it. It may be that the ad blocker simply comes with Icweasel. I don’t use Icweasel as my browser, so I’m not sure what the default configuration is for it. If somebody knows, please post your thoughts in the comments.

But here’s why I don’t like having an ad blocker installed by default in Icweasel:

First, it forces the ad blocker plugin on the user, without asking him or her if they want it in the first place.

Second, the use of such plugins indiscriminately often hurts sites such as this one that are not backed by big corporations. Independent sites depend on ad revenues to pay for hosting costs, domain names, and other costs associated with running sites. I’m always grateful to the readers who whitelist Desktop Linux Reviews in their ad blocker, it helps me keep the site running as I’m not a rich person.

Third, some users might indeed want an ad blocker (and that is their right and their choice), but they might not want the one that is installed in Iceweasel by default. Not all ad blockers work the same way, some are more effective than others, and I’m sure that Debian users are aware of this. One size does not fit all when it comes to ad blocking. So this is an inconvenience to those people as well. They have to uninstall the ad blocker forced on them in Iceweasel, then go get the one they want and install it.

Debian 7 Ad Blocker in Iceweasel
Debian 7 Ad Blocker in Iceweasel

My nitpicking about the ad blocker aside, Debian 7 worked very well for me whether I was using GNOME 3 or GNOME Classic. The system seemed speedy and stable while I was using it. I didn’t notice any over issues with it. If you did, please post your experiences in the comments below so other readers can benefit from them.

There is also a list of known issues with Debian 7.o that you should be aware of before installing it:

Security issues

Debian security team issues updates to packages in the stable release in which they’ve identified problems related to security. Please consult the security pagesfor information about any security issues identified in Wheezy.

If you use APT, add the following line to /etc/apt/sources.list to be able to access the latest security updates:

  deb wheezy/updates main contrib non-free

After that, run apt-get update followed by apt-get upgrade.

Point releases

Sometimes, in the case of several critical problems or security updates, the released distribution is updated. Generally, these are indicated as point releases.

There are no point releases for Debian 7.0 yet.

Fixes to the released stable distribution often go through an extended testing period before they are accepted into the archive. However, these fixes are available in the dists/wheezy-proposed-updates directory of any Debian archive mirror.

If you use APT to update your packages, you can install the proposed updates by adding the following line to /etc/apt/sources.list:

  # proposed additions for a 7.0 point release
  deb wheezy-proposed-updates main contrib non-free

After that, run apt-get update followed by apt-get upgrade.

Installation system

For information about errata and updates for the installation system, see the installation information page.

Where To Get Help for Debian 7.0

If you’re having problems, please post your questions in the comments below or register for the DLR forum. Other readers might be able to assist you. You might also want to check out the Debian support page for documentation, known problems, wiki, mailing lists, newsgroups, bug tracking and other support resources.

If you’re new to Linux, you might want to check out some of the books available about it at Amazon. You can learn quite a bit that you will probably find useful later on. You can also save lots of money with deals on laptops and tablets, desktops and monitors, components, and computer accessories.

Final Thoughts About Debian 7.0

Debian remains one of the most important projects in Linux. Debian 7 offers some significant improvements, and it certainly warrants an upgrade if you are using an older version of Debian.

No doubt that some folks will be disappointed by the lack of support for Secure Boot, but I don’t think that that should be a deal breaker. The support for UEFI in 64-bit PCs is a step forward that will be built on later, so I try to take the long view on this issue.

Some will take issue with my comments about the forced inclusion of the ad blocker in Iceweasel, but I think it’s something worth talking about since Debian 7 is such an important Linux project. I fully understand that some folks hate ads and will block them, that is their right. However, advertising remains the basis for free content like this review, so it’s worth noting and thinking about the ramifications of browsers having ad blockers installed by default.

Debian 7 is best suited to intermediate and advanced Linux users. However, I urge beginners to learn more about it. Don’t be afraid at giving it a try in a virtual machine or as a live distro. Understanding Debian can teach you a lot about Linux, and you’ll have the opportunity to learn why it is the foundation for so many other distros.

What’s your take on Debian 7.0? Tell me in the comments below.

35 thoughts on “Debian 7.0 Wheezy

  1. I installed Debian 7.6.0 LXDE, today, on an EeePC 4G.

    Installation went fine, 1.9GiB free space; but, when it came to configuring the network, there is nothing provided for mobile broadband. So I downloaded the relevant packages, on my Lubuntu system, and transferred them, but they cannot be installed.

    Thanks, but no thanks: for the sake of a few KiB, users of mobile broadband have been ignored.

    Well done, Debian developers, for disenfranchising some of your potential user base.

    I really wanted to use this system, for refurbs, but I guess that isn’t going to happen.

  2. You’re writing about “Debian/Iceweasel”:
    “I’m always grateful to the readers who whitelist Desktop Linux Reviews in their ad blocker, it helps me keep the site running as I’m not a rich person.”

    That’s something most People (like me) will understand and accept – so i did it this way and stopped ABP on your side.
    But on 90 of the other sides i will shurly keep it….

    1. Thanks very much, Achim. I appreciate it. I don’t blame you for using an ad blocker. Between the obnoxious ads and the irritating social media buttons, a lot of sites are just a royal pain to visit. Ugh.

  3. Thanks for the review! I was able to install Debian 7.2 Gnome on my Macbook (Intel dual core). Used netinstaller. After installing I had to alter the following:
    > touchpad scroll didnt work as “expected” – Luckily System settings > Mouse/Touchpad knocked this off
    > wifi — fixed the wireless (check your wifi card first)

    > Youtube videos still dont play on Iceweasel…looking into it.

    everything else works out of the box!! Keep it up!!

  4. “One thing I found distasteful was how an ad blocker was automatically installed in Iceweasel. When I opened Iceweasel, I got a confirmation that it was installed. I was not asked if I wanted it, it just appeared there without any input from me.”

    When I installed Debian 7.1 on my laptop no addons whas installed in Iceweasel. It looks like they have changed this i 7.1 so that the ad blocker no longer automatically is installed in Iceweasel.

  5. I am getting ready for Mint to ditch ubuntu base and switch to Debian 100%, I know it will happen eventually, so it is nice to see another stable release. One reason I avoid straight or mintified Debian is there are no PPAs so I can’t get the latest of any given program. I come from Gentoo, 10 years past, but after using it I just can’t used to outdated programs. When I have tried Debian in the past it was impossible to get 99% of the programs I used updated unless I compiled from source at which point why not use Gentoo? It is automated with emerge. I’m not even sure if there is a PPA system for Debian, it would be great if there was then all Debian based distros could use it making it easier for developers to package their software, they only need to package once. If only Canonical would go along with that then I bet Linux would grow 10 fold. . .

  6. I loaded debian live(XFCE) on a usb key. When I tried(text mode) to install it, the installer that there is no CD in the CD drive. How can I get around this. I really don’t like wasting a DVD for that…

  7. The one good thing about Wheezy as the current Debian Stable is that it’s not boring at all or too dated yet. But instead of GNOME 3, I would use xfce, LXDE, or Enlightenment in an attempt to preserve some CPU power & RAM memory.

    As for the infamous Iceweasel browser, I’ll purge it and install Chromium in a heartbeat. No big deal. : )

  8. This article review of Debian 7 (Wheezy) was very much complete – in consideration for “Desktop” use, but was totally irrevelant and negligent in regard Debian’s considerable merits for Server implementation.

    While Debian is very popular and suitable in the Server environment as well as client use throughout Europe, Asia, Southern Africa and South America, Linux users here in USA focus only on the “desktop” Linux, gee-whiz! scenario in thought competition to Microsoft Windows. A poor perspective of an excellent software technology.

      1. Good point! When I have occasion to use servers, I have found Debian to be among the most stable servers around. However, on the job, I’ve only had one occasion to use Debian. All other times (including the present) it seems to be Red Hat Enterprise Linux, RHEL), which is also a good distribution. As the distribution itself goes, I like Debian. However, Fedora Hats off to Red Hat (and its development branch, Fedora. Since application vendors tend to standardize, their applications, when sensitive, tend to work and to be supported much more frequently by RHEL than anything else.

        Fair is fair, though; this is not a SERVER review site, this site is called DESKTOP Linux Reviews and Desktop Linux Reviews Forum is a companion site.

  9. The Debian 7 XFCE installer is pretty nice too. I got a nice system running in a VM right now as I try out Debian.

  10. I have been running Debian 7.0 w/KDE 4.8.4 for some time and it is very stable indeed. People who do not like Gnome 3 (and I do not) certainly have alternatives in KDE or Xfce, which I also have run quite successfully.

    The IceXXX thing does not turn my crank one way or the other. The point is that in my experience they work. I’ll leave the political arguments to those who care about them.

    One key to the Debian net-installer, which is dead-bang reliable in my experience: Read the Installation documentation! There is a short-form of that over on the Debian wiki that is very helpful for first-timers.

    One final point: Do not expect the “latest and greatest” of anything. What you get in exchange for software that is a step or two behind the curve is a system that will work when you need to have it work. Fair trade in my opinion.

    1. I have a question for you foxbat…I’m kinda new to Debian and I understand when you say “do not expect the latest and greatest” as far as programs are concerned. However, would it be possibly to add other repositories or download the source code for more recent programs or does the kernel in Debian 7 prevent this from happening?

      1. You can add the repositories you want, but the alternative versions of some programs may create conflicts (deb-multimedia, for example, is quite safe AFAIK).

        You can also install whatever you want from source. Preventing that would be against the fundamental principles of free software.

  11. Brian,

    Can you please clarify “I recommend steering clear of Iceweasel, Iceape, and Icedove”?

    So do you recommend to use the nightly builds of the same IceXXX above of do you recommend to use rather the original ones (Firefox, Thunderbird)?


    1. Well, I won’t flat out discourage any use of these Debian branded tools, except to comment that:

      1. Their existence, to me, seems silly in the first place. Debian wanted to mess with the code in the browsers. First of all, provide patches back to the groups, why fork the code? They’ve broken it more than once.

      2. A couple of years ago, there were even instances, admittedly isolated, where poor handling of hardware, in particular by the Iceweasel browser, in some extremely isolated cases reportedly led to monitor failure. Now that’s pretty rare, hardly ever heard of, but since it was divergent code in the first place, I just ask “Why”?

      3. When you see Version 10.something in Iceweasel and Icedove, those are “Extended Support Releases” (ESR). I don’t know if Firefox and Thunderbird are still on Version 10 or something later for their ESR, but that is rather old.

      No reason, especially on the desktop, not to use Firefox V20.0; that’s what is current.

      As for Nightly Builds, they are not for everyone, but the Nightly Builds that I use are directly from the Mozilla Development FTP (File Transfer Protocol) site. So are the released versions. If you are not testing, get a released version, but the ones from the Mozilla site are more current, and usually more stable and up-gradable than the Debian Ice-versions.

      1. Hi Brian,

        I feel I need to correct you on point #1 – Debian has not forked the Mozilla projects you mention, they exist because of a dispute over trademark and licencing. Please read

        As you point out, there is nothing stopping anyone from installing the latest Mozilla Firefox (or Google Chrome) and benefit from the “in band” updates from Mozilla or Google directly. Personally I look past the rebranded stuff and have been using upstream versions with Debian for years.


        1. Well, maybe the use of the term “fork” is too strong, but the Debian versions have more than just icon changes. The reason that Debian cannot use the Mozilla Firefox logos is that they are repackaging the distribution and also because the two projects have philosophical differences on the licensing. Notice that Ubuntu, for instance, a Debian-based distribution, still has Firefox packages?


          1. They accept the Mozilla license and
          2. They leave the code alone.

          As I claimed, more than once Debian changed the code; that’s why they had to re-brand. If that’s not a “fork”, then what is the definition of a software fork? I say when you change the code, it’s forked. If you disagree, then provide your definition and substantiate it with reference to a well-recognized definition of a software fork.

            1. No; they are doing better lately, and barely diverging, except for the art work, but at a few key points in the past, they modified the browser code and broke it pretty badly; they thought they were fixing security issues and ended up breaking them worse, and having to back out.

              Another really serious error was back in time where they changed some video driver stuff, presumably replacing “non-free” code with “free” code, but caused monitor failures.

              I avoided most of this, and unfortunately, I cannot cite these things accurately, so I can retract them if they prove 100% untrue.

              This, however, can be said: Iceweasel, Iceape, Icedove, and Iceowl lag their Mozilla equivalents. I therefore recommend simply downloading the Mozilla-branded versions and use their updating mechanisms instead; they work reliably and provide free Mozilla-based software that is free of charge and free to use and reuse.

          1. Quote from the wikipedia article above:

            “Further messages from Mike Connor clarified Mozilla’s new trademark policies: usage of the Firefox name is not allowed unless the rest of the branding is used and all of the browser’s changes are approved by Mozilla Corporation.

            The immediate problem caused by the new policy was Debian’s inability to use the official Firefox logo due to its proprietary license failing to comply with the Debian Free Software Guidelines. Additionally, as Debian releases are frozen on a long-term basis, software in the frozen stable releases needs to be patched for any newly discovered security issue. Under the revised guidelines, in order to use the Firefox name, approval from the Mozilla Corporation would have been required for all security patches, but the Debian project felt it could not put its security in the hands of an external corporation in that manner.[15]”

            So leaving the code alone was not really an option as it would have clashed with the original way of doing security updates: the debian project only takes security updates from upstream but not feature updates, which (somewhat) ensures that the new bugs packed in with new features do not get into the stable release.

            Of course, they could just package the upstream firefox as it comes out each time and shift responsibility for the security and bugs to the mozilla team, which would have been quite unprecedented in the history of debian.

            Also, they absolutely could not use the firefox logo anyway because of the DFSG incompatibility.

            The point is, they _had_ to make a choice as to whether they want to make things the debian way or the mozilla way, and chose the debian way even though the needed extra effort and possible shortcomings.

  12. Debian Wheezy (7.0) is perhaps the Debian project’s best release yet. The installer, chronically the weak spot, is still worlds better than it was in 2001 when I first learned Debian. In fact, back then, I was trying out an older version and the hardware support was so limited that I had to use a commercial Debian-based distro, the outstanding Libranet 1.9.1 for my first Debian system. These days, clumsy as it still is, the installation and configuration are superior to what they have been.

    If you run the Debian text mode installation and do the same with Ubuntu, you will see the clear similarity. Debian has snagged a few (perhaps too few) tips from Ubuntu in the installation, but otherwise, it’s Ubuntu that takes from Debian, and without Debian, there would be about 250-300 fewer distributions available, and much of the technology we have would be limited. Even some of the alternative package managers in other distributions got the ideas from Ian Murdock’s original thoughts and efforts.

    I recommend steering clear of Iceweasel, Iceape, and Icedove, the Debian-branded replacements for the Mozilla Firefox, Seamonkey, and Thunderbird browser, suite, and Email applications. I use both Nightly Builds and release builds. The Nightly Builds have defects 3-4 times a year, and I get the ones I am interested in fixed within 72 hours by providing well written defect reports. I hope you guys see decent RELEASED versions of these apps, but if not, why don’t you test them, write reports, and tell them what you expect? That’s how and why my systems always work; I QA the crap out of them and make sure the things I care about work, and they do.

    I recommend Debian. For me, the netinst is the way to go. Why download a 4 GB DVD? Download a 40-60 MB image, then download the packages you want during installation. Takes slightly (but not much) longer. You’ll spend 1/2 hour to an hour downloading a big DVD unless you have a really fat network bandwidth. You can achieve a similar netinst installation time; a Live CD is an acceptable alternative; it works similar to the netinst but probably has a nicer looking interface, and you can run software while you are installing, so many may prefer that choice.

      1. Had you chosen a smaller build, you could have chosen LXDE, Xfce, KDE, or even a minimalist IceWM, Fluxbox, Openbox, or Enlightenment approach instead of that hmm… (forget the adjective) GNOME (choice?)

        My Debian instance was built about four, maybe five, years ago now, taken from a custom instance of Debian Live that I was able to specify exactly what I wanted. So I ran it live, liked what I saw, installed it, converted it to Sid, then back filled home directories and other things I wanted to keep from previous systems and I’ve been using it ever since along with antiX Core as my two preferred – Debian Sid based systems!

        I do sometimes download newer versions to check them out, but no reason to replace my good old system with the new ones; I just snag the new packages I want and I am done.

Leave a Reply