"making things feel a bit more modern"
for someone elses value of modern.
It's been a while, but the Raspberry Pi OS has had a major version bump, taking this flavour of Linux for the diminutive computer to Debian Bullseye. Debian Bullseye debuted in August, and the Raspberry Pi team admitted that getting its eponymous operating system updated had "taken a bit longer than we'd hoped". Bullseye will …
They are taking a very pragmatic approach to all this. They're using a lot of third party software, so if they want to continue doing that they need to follow the upstream projects, albeit some ways behind. The alternative is to do the maintenance themselves, which would be a lot of work.
Went to download to discover it is still armhf ie 32 bit. It's good that Debian Bullseye continues to support legacy 32 bit hardware - but RPi3 onwards can support 64 bit as the excellent 64 bit Buster beta demonstrated.
If upgrade from Buster is not recommended I don't understand why release this when upgrade from Bullseye 32 bit to a future 64 bit is for the birds.
Those of us who use 32 bit Debian Bullseye are painfully aware that an increasing part of the userland are no longer providing 32 biit upgrades. 64 bit is not the future it is now. This is legacy release. Most people would do well to wait for an arm64 release rather than go for possibly two complete wipe & installs. Or try the unofficial Debian arm64 edition.
I have been using Ubuntu Server on the Pi 4, and it seems to work pretty good. I haven't discovered any problems with it so far. It's 64 bit.
Both Raspberry Pi OS and Ubuntu make extensive use of sudo in managing them, so they're more similar to each other than to original Debian in that sense.
I have benchmarked software that I've written on both the Pi3 and Pi4 in both 32 and 64 bit modes. The Python and C programs were significantly faster just by switching from 32 to 64 bit without any other changes. I have a pretty comprehensive set of benchmarks so I don't have any doubts about the difference.
As I understand it the thing that has been holding Raspberry Pi OS back from switching to 64 bit is their desire to maintain backwards compatibility with the Pi 2, which won't support 64 bit mode. They would have to put out a separate version of the distro for that. It's a choice though that I think they will eventually be pushed into.
They recommend against and upgrade in place. That's something they've always done with major releases, so nothing actually new on that front.
If you read the announcement blog post, they have a link to instructions on how to update in place, should you wish to go that route. They just won't provide support if you run into trouble doing it.
Managing to break Debian's normally rock-solid ability to update from one version to another is quite an achievement - shared by Linux Mint - but not a good one.
On various bits of kit, I have successfully done upgrades from Debian Woody onwards, so nearly 20 years, and the only problem has been catching up with the configuration changes made in upstream projects each time.
I've installed it on my Raspberry Pi 3. Since I've only got 1 GB of RAM I didn't see the new visual effects. I normally run it as a headless server over SSH anyway, so that doesn't matter.
Overall, it seems fine with no surprises. It has some newer versions of software (e.g. Python 3.9 as opposed to 3.7).
I did the recommended full re-install. I used the SD card imager which they provide, so that was fairly painless.
I just re-installed by own software projects and they ran fine without problems.
I don't see any reason for anyone to not go ahead with the upgrade.
"This means less closed-source proprietary code...,"
With their 10th anniversary not far off, I wonder [hope] whether the liberation from none copyright code might open the way to launching some RISC-V based open source hardware? With an onboard RP2040 Pico to add to the fun, maybe?
Oh - and we'll need the Python bindings for libcamera which are still in the works I believe.
Thank you RPi Team and roll on February 2022! :-)
Now that the huge amount of work needed to get Bullseye out is done, we can spend a bit MORE time on the 64bit version. Fortunately a lot of the work done for Bullseye is directly applicable to a 64bit version (libcamera, V472, KMS etc). Try out the latest beta released the same day. Bound to be some issues, so the more testing done the better.
That is a bit of an understatement "some" (or "a lot") is relative I guess. The tabbed dialogs being a bit "jarring" is more accurate. There are many significant Gtk changes that will impact the Pi, especially if you have limited screen real estate. Gtk+3 removed the toolbar widget as well as the menu widget. (which to a large degree is why you will see menu entries have grown taller and many applications can no longer fit the same number of icons in the new object used as a toolbar without the bar ellipsizing with spillover in '...' menu to the side).
Few apps properly apply the new gtk.toolbar class style which mitigates the toolbar icon appearance somewhat with set_style() -- but there is little motivation to do so since much of the gtk.toolbar class style is deprecated now like to be removed in Gtk4 (no + in the name anymore). The Gtk change is one of the reasons the direct Buster->Bullseye update for Desktop installs isn't recommended (though there are more reports of success than failure) And with a Pi 3+b, I'm not anxious to have my nicely themed desktop revert to one with jarring square corner tabbed dialogs...
Well, Chromium on Bullseye wouldn't work 'out of the box' on my Rasp 4B, so I had to install Firefox.
Mind you the monitor was a 50" TCL 4K TV. Perhaps someday I'll try Chromium with a cute little 24" 1092x768 monitor.
Doesn't matter much- I mostly run it headless as a storage server and web-server anyhow. But NOT with 48 TB!