Saturday, November 5, 2016

Debian Stretch preview

Debian Stretch has entered the first stage of freeze. Life is boring, so I decided to update. (Proviso: do not try this at home unless you understand that Stretch is still in Testing and can break. If it breaks, you get to keep the pieces.)

And so, here it is:
I should point out that Stretch artwork has not being finalised yet: the background is just one of several candidates- it's just my favourite.

The update was pleasantly painless with no issues.

I did soon find one bug- the mouse pointer will disappear after the screen blanks out and is reawakened.

However, Gnome now works with Wayland, and using Wayland, this bug is not an issue, so I'll be trying out Wayland for the time being. An issue with Wayland is that Synaptic does not start. I expect that may be true of other applications.

(See why I cautioned about using testing?)

Otherwise, everything seems to work well.

I will mention a few things that I have noticed.

A minor (but annoying) font artefact that appeared in Jessie does not seem to be present in Stretch- which is good. This is probably only something that affects my graphics card, so other users may not have noticed it.

Stretch comes with Gnome 3.22 (I don't think there will be another update before the final freeze). The most noticeable differences (for me) are that notifications are now at the top of the screen (similar to Android) and the pop-up notification tray at the bottom of the screen has gone. A big improvement, if you ask me- when other people were using Libre Office on my computer, they occasionally caused the notification tray to pop up, and didn't know how to get rid of it.

The Gnome music player can be controlled from the notification drop-down screen.
The Gnome file manager has been updated and the buttons simplified. The new buttons are far more intuitive- I could never find the option I wanted with the old buttons. One changes from icon to list view and the other gives you tab, zoom, sort and revel hidden files options- much easier to use and remember, and more in accord with the Gnome philosophy of intuitive minimalism.
There are of course many new features and improvements in Gnome 3.22, which you can find out about at

One striking visual change is that the title bar is now separated by a line from an application window- which doesn't look especially good in Firefox.
The title bar is a waste of space in Firefox anyway- pity there isn't a way for Gnome to get rid of it (you can with an extension in Firefox).

I've been using Debian Sid for a while on another computer, and have commented before on a number of things that were broken in Jessie, but seemed to have been fixed in subsequent updates. I will try to confirm that update notifications and Bluetooth file transfers from a phone are working in Stretch and post some screenshots in later posts.

Overall, Stretch seems like it's going to be a big improvement over Jessie for me.

It seems like something I could live with quite happily for the next two years, whereas with Jessie I thought, do I have to live with this for two years?


  1. Hi,
    "An issue with Wayland is that Synaptic does not start. I expect that may be true of other applications."

    1. Yes, that seems to be it, thanks: Wayland does not allow graphical applications to be root- I've also noticed that terminal as root and BleachBit as root fail to launch.

      Thanks again for the comment.