Now that the dust has settled on Debian’s new testing repository we are focusing our efforts on Bookworm. This long overdue blog post is a summary of what to expect in the coming updates to Mobian.

New Software

As we outlined in To Bullseye and Beyond, Bookworm is where Mobian and Debian will be focusing their efforts for new software. To date, this has resulted in the introduction of GTK4 and, most importantly for PinePhone users, Megapixels 1.3 which brings a fully hardware-accelerated camera viewfinder.

Additionally, Debian moved to GNOME 41 over the past few months, which provides newly adaptive versions of core software such as GNOME Software and GNOME Control Center. The latter reduces significantly the number of overflowing panels and starts significantly faster.

All of these goodies either come directly from upstream Debian or rely on newer packages not available in Bullseye. The Mobian team will not be backporting these, so we recommend upgrading to Bookworm to get access to them.

How do I get access to these new packages

The good news is, if you have already switched to Bookworm, these updates are just an apt upgrade away.

If you’ve been waiting for the dust to settle on the Bullseye release, now would be a good time to move forward. While the turnover of new packages in Debian Testing is always high, the major post-Bullseye transitions (such as GNOME and libc) have completed, mostly smoothly.

If you would like to upgrade, simply replace bullseye with bookworm in both /etc/apt/sources.list and /etc/apt/sources.list.d/mobian.list. Then, the usual apt update and apt dist-upgrade combo will pull in all the latest packages and upgrade your device to Bookworm. We highly recommend you backup your home directory prior to performing the upgrade.

In case you originally flashed your device with an image older than April 26th, 2021, you will have to edit /etc/apt/sources.list.d/extrepo_mobian.sources instead of /etc/apt/sources.list.d/mobian.list, replacing Suites: mobian with Suites: bookworm.

Finally, do not blindly proceed with the upgrade, but pay attention to the lists of upgraded/removed packages: in case you notice anything suspicious (such as mobian-* packages being removed, for example), please abort the upgrade process and try to find out what is going wrong. As a last resort measure, keep in mind you can always flash a clean, fresh image if things end up going horribly wrong.

Fresh Installs

Since August 15th, our nightly (and now weekly) image builds are all based on Bookworm, so if you installed from an image generated after this date, then you’re all set and don’t need to do anything. Images for your device can be downloaded from the usual mobian images page.

While it is not necessary to reinstall Mobian to access Bookworm, if you are going to do so, we recommend using one of those weekly image builds.

A note on Repository Names

There has been some confusion about the naming of Mobian and Debian repositories and their targets. To dispel this, we have compiled the following:

Mobian Repositories:

  • bookworm: This is the current main repository, targeting Debian bookworm. Similarly to its Debian counterpart, it should be considered the “testing” distribution.
  • staging: This is the bleeding edge repository for Mobian. While it also targets Debian bookworm, it contains new, minimally tested or experimental packages. This repository allows users to test packages before they’re released to a wider audience and help us discover new bugs and regressions.
  • bullseye: This is the old Mobian repository targetting Debian bullseye. It is no longer receiving updates and should now be considered a security risk, especially in the light of recent kernel-related CVEs.
  • mobian: An alias for bullseye and therefore no longer receiving updates as well.

Debian Repositories:

  • bullseye: Current Debian stable.
  • bookworm: Current Debian testing and the target of all supported Mobian repositories.
  • sid: Debian unstable. While conceptually similar, this is not targeted by Mobian staging.

Simply put, Mobian bookworm and Mobian staging are the current, supported versions, both targeting Debian bookworm.

As you may have noticed, there is no Mobian “stable” repository at the moment: while a significant (and ever growing) number of users deem Mobian stable enough for daily use, there are still a number of issues getting in the way of a really smooth and enjoyable user experience. It is our hope and goal that those issues will be fixed during the Bookworm development cycle, leading to a first Mobian stable release by the time Bookworm becomes the new Debian stable (fingers crossed).

A note on Kernel Releases

The current plan is to have the most recent LTS kernel available in Mobian bookworm, with staging receiving less well-tested non-LTS versions. This is due to the regressions which can occur between kernels and allows users to understand before upgrading how thoroughly a given kernel has been tested.

In saying this, 5.15 is the latest LTS kernel and is currently the default one in Mobian bookworm as well as Mobian staging, with the latter about to switch to 5.16 once it is released.

Mobian users who want to help with this process are encouraged to test these unstable kernels when they are released and report any regression.