Linux on the desktop continues to grow in popularity. Although it doesn’t enjoy the mainstream market share of Android, Windows, iOS, or macOS, the server-side open-source operating system is hugely popular among businesses. But little by little, Linux continues to climb the ladder of market share. One reason for this is Ubuntu.
For those unaware, Ubuntu has been one of the top 10 most popular Linux desktop distros on the market for years. One of the many reasons for this is the remarkable user-friendliness. Ubuntu is simple to install, use and maintain, supports a wide range of hardware, just works and (of course) is free for everyone.
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Very soon, the latest iteration of Ubuntu Desktop will hit the metaphorical shelves. The version in question is 22.04, aka Jammy Jellyfish. And while there are no breaking or manufacturing features to be found, users will find plenty of niceties to go along with the stability and reliability that Ubuntu is known for.
Currently in beta, the full version of Jammy Jellyfish is scheduled to be officially released on April 21, 2022. This is a long-term support release, which means it will be supported until April 2027 ( each LTS version comes with 5 years of application support and security updates).
So what makes Ubuntu 22.04 worth upgrading (or installing for the first time)? Let’s dive in and find out.
All about support
As I mentioned before, Jammy Jellyfish is a long-term support release. Why is this important? First of all, there is a big contingency within the Linux community that only uses LTS releases. The rationale for this is that you can go five years without having to install or upgrade your operating system to the next version. In a world where Windows users have grown accustomed to failed upgrades, unsupported hardware, and planned obsolescence, this is a crucial aspect of Ubuntu releases. Second, LTS releases tend to be more stable than non-LTS releases.
Many of these same people ignore the non-LTS releases (the odd-numbered releases, such as 21.04 and 21.10) of Ubuntu, which are not on the LTS track. So for those who choose to use only the even (LTS) builds, it’s time to upgrade or run a fresh install on bare metal. And for those who have never installed Linux before, Ubuntu 22.04 might be the perfect launch point, as Canonical (the company that runs Ubuntu Linux) rebooted its installer using Google’s Flutter language in the previous version. (21.10) and perfected the installation process. so anyone (of almost any skill level) can successfully install Ubuntu.
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GNOME 42 has arrived
The main change to Ubuntu 22.04 should be the inclusion of GNOME 42. For those unfamiliar with Linux, GNOME is the desktop environment that allows you to interact with applications and services. That’s GUI goodness on your desktop.
What makes GNOME 42 so special? This version of the desktop saw the developers make several subtle changes to the entire desktop. From a polished theme to a number of thoughtful changes that help simplify day-to-day workflow (such as better application calls, improved menu layouts, and an overall desktop finish).
For most users, these changes will be almost too subtle to spot, but taken as a whole, the Ubuntu 22.04 desktop (Figure A), feels cleaner and even more professional (dare I say corporate worthy?).
Users will also find an improved Appearance Hub in the Settings app. In this new hub (Figure B), you can switch between dark and light, select accent colors, configure desktop icons, and customize the Dock.
The wait is over: Libadwaita
One of the more controversial changes coming to the ride is the addition of Libadwaita (which was officially released last year). Libadwaita is the successor to the GTK3-based library libhandy, which has added several adaptive capabilities (especially in the area of theming) to the long list of GTK applications. With the move to Libadwaita, users were (rightly) concerned that they would no longer be able to theme GNOME with almost the granular control they had with libhandy.
One of the many reasons for this migration is to avoid desktop inconsistencies introduced by theming. But the pros far outweigh the cons. Libawaita adds several really cool looks and behaviors to the office that weren’t possible before. More importantly, however, this change will bring a much more modern and consistent look to all GTK applications going forward.
Base app changes
With GNOME 42 there are a few significant changes to the default applications (only one of which has made it into Ubuntu 22.04 so far). These changes replace two applications that have been part of the GNOME desktop for some time: Gedit and GNOME Terminal.
Gedit (the proven text editor) has been replaced by an application simply called Text Editor (Figure C). This new text editor is much easier to use, cleaner to look at, and even adds a feature that has long been considered a must-have for text editors: autosave. The text editor also includes side and bottom panels (which can be activated from the drop-down menu) as well as a highlight mode (think syntax highlighting) and a plug-in system to extend the set of features.
Another of the main GNOME applications that has been replaced is the Console, which replaces the GNOME Terminal. This new app follows in the same footsteps as Text Editor to provide a much cleaner and simpler experience. However, for some reason Ubuntu 22.04 does not include the new Console application and retains the GNOME terminal.
Beyond polish, you’ll find a few other changes/improvements in Ubuntu 22.04, including:
Improved performance with support for triple frame buffering (to improve GPU rendering).
Hardware-accelerated rendering in the GNOME web browser.
Wayland is now the default graphics display server.
Kernel 5.15 adds many new hardware supports.
systemd — oomd integration for better low memory management.
Tracker indexing memory usage has been reduced by 50%.
After using the Ubuntu 22.04 beta for a while, it’s pretty easy to conclude that this might just be one of Canonical’s best upcoming releases. Between the extra polish, new apps, and massive performance boost, Ubuntu Jammy Jellyfish is a release that will not only appeal to long-time users, but could easily reclaim the top spot as the best Linux distro for new users. Simply put, Jammy Jellyfish is a great choice for longtime Linux fans and even those who have never experienced the open source operating system.
For the curious, you can download the beta now. Everyone else should keep their hats on until the full release at the end of the month.