Debian has released the latest version of its operating system and is set to be particularly attractive to budget-conscious enterprises looking to cut costs.

Debian 5.0, known as Lenny, will offer users improved security handling. For example, as an added protection measure, Debian Installer will now apply any security updates before the first boot.
In addition, several security-critical packages have been built with GCC hardening features, and the standard system contains fewer setuid root binaries and fewer open ports. Other new features include support for IPv6, NFS 4, PostgreSQL 8.3.5, MySQL 5.1.30 and 5.0.51a, Samba 3.2.5, PHP 5.2.6, Asterisk, Nagios 3.06 and the Xen Hypervisor 3.2.1.

In an interview, Debian Project leader, Steve McIntyre said that new versions of office software and web browsers would give "bonuses on the desktop". He said that were " a whole host of updates for servers too, for example in virtualisation and database packages"

Companies are now increasingly looking to adopt open source said Tom Callway, marketing director of UK open-source supplier, Sirius IT. He added that Debian was proving to be particularly attractive, claiming that Debian was now the Linux distribution with the lowest total cost of ownership.

"We had one client who moved from a Novell/Microsoft-based environment to a Debian-based one and they saved something like 80 percent of the cost in the first year - they couldn't have done that moving to Red Hat - not when their licences cost £1000," Callway said. He added that Sirius was set to announce a major educational project that would show the extent to which open source software was becoming more accepted.

Callway said that the two areas that Sirius customers would be particularly interested in would be the increased support for Xen and the open-source database Postgres. Those fit in pretty well with what our own customers are doing," he said. He also said that Debian was a more reliable and cheaper way to handle middleware applications such as JBoss even though JBoss is now owned by Red Hat.

"Red Hat owns JBoss but it didn't develop the code," he said. "JBoss community exists as separate from JBoss and Debian can handle that and other middleware code."