Desktop: While installing the system used for this review, I used the default desktop environment – GNOME. Debian 6.0 ships with GNOME 2.30. During installation, you may install other well known desktop environments from the “Advanced options” installation screen.
Installed and Installable Applications: Here a list of major applications installed by default on Debian 6.0:
- Epiphany Web browser
- Iceweasel, an unbranded Mozilla Firefox
- Evolution Mail and Calendar
- Inkscape Vector Graphics Editor
- Empathy IM client
- Ekiga Softphone
- Totem Movie Player
- Liferea Feed Reader
- Cheese Webcam Booth
These are besides standard GNOME desktop utilities, system tools, accessories and games. Moovida, a media center application is in the repository, but not installed. XBMC, the other popular media center application, is not in the repo. Epiphany is the default Web browser, with Iceweasel as an alternate. There is no Flash or Java JRE plugin installed, so you will have to install the necessary plugins yourself. For Flash, you can install the flashplugin-non-free package, and for a Java Runtime package, the sun-java6-plugin package.
If you need to spice up your desktop, Cairo-Dock is available for installation. Docky is also available, if that is more to your liking. Cairo-Dock and Docky provide a Mac OS X dock-like features for Linux and BSD desktop distributions.
Package Management: Debian is the distribution that gave us the Advanced Packaging Tool, or APT. APT is made of a suite of tools for managing applications on the system. The most popular of these tools is apt-get and its graphical interface – Synaptic Package Manager, which – by my assessment – is the best graphical package management application available on any Linux desktop distribution.
Out of the box, the system is configured to check and notify you of available updates once a day.
Graphical Administrative Tools: Virtually all graphical administrative tools available on Debian 6 are the same ones available on a standard GNOME desktop. In the menu, you will find them in System > Preferences, System > Administration, and Applications > System Tools. One (graphical administrative tool) that should be familiar to regular users of the GNOME desktop is the Users and Groups application. Unlike the Debian Installer, the Users and Groups tool enforces a minimum password length for new user accounts.
Another tool is Reportbug, which is used to, as the name suggests, report bugs to Debian’s Bug Tracking System, or BTS.