UBUNTU GEAR UP
There’s a new Ubuntu LTS in town, with a whole new desktop to entice and amaze you. Jonni Bidwell rolls out the orange carpet…
The next LTS release of Ubuntu is here! Install, upgrade, tweak and enjoy the new features… or just tear your hair out
Quiet your busy mind for just a moment, dear reader, and tell us what you hear. The sound of swallows, swifts and wheatears returning to their northern breeding grounds? No, listen more closely. There’s a vaguely mechanical gnawing sound from the trees over yonder.
That’s the sound of a bionic beaver, and possibly some gnomes too, and it can mean only one thing: the latest Ubuntu LTS release is here. As is tradition, our cover has been emblazoned orange, our disc editor has been kept up for days testing the daily builds, and Jonni won’t stop wittering on about Walpurgisnacht. But things have changed since the last LTS two years ago.
Back then, there was excitement about Canonical’s bold desktop projects: Unity 8, Mir and convergence. Those have all been bequeathed to the community now and Ubuntu, after seven years going its own way, has returned to the Gnome desktop. A controversial move, but a pragmatic one too. Canonical is heading towards an IPO, and ambitious desktop projects that generate no revenue don’t attract investors.
Furthermore, Gnome 3 has matured and ripened and is no longer the scary desktop beast that it used to be, and Canonical has done a great job of customising it to be as friendly as possibly to Unity ex-pats. Gnome is also leading the charge towards Wayland, the successor to the aging X.org display server, so Ubuntu 18.04 is a great distro for brave souls and early adopters to experiment with the future display stack (don’t worry it’s not the default yet).
Of course, if Gnome’s still not your thing there’s no shortage of other desktop flavours to try. We’ll cover the most interesting ones, and of course all the exciting changes under the hood, too – the new kernel, snap packages, not to mention Ubuntu’s server, cloud and IoT offerings. Plus, we haven’t forgotten about the crazy die-hards still running 32-bit hardware. There may be no 32-bit install medium, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reap the benefits of the new Ubuntu!