Ubuntu is one of the most popular Linux desktop distributions and serves as the basis for countless other desktop operating systems, such as Linux Mint and the Elementary OS. There are two major Ubuntu releases each year. Last week the Canonical The company behind Ubuntu has been released Ubuntu 21.04 «Hirsute Hippo».
Ubuntu 21.04 is not a long-term support (LTS) version, therefore will be supported for 9 months, until January 2022. If you do not want to upgrade regularly or if you prefer stability over new features, the Ubuntu 20.04 is the current LTS version and will receive updates by April 2025. But let's see in more detail what this version brings.
Initially, Ubuntu 21.04 includes Linux kernel 5.11, which has some interesting software features and support for newer hardware. AMD implemented better support for Vangogh, Green Sardine and Dimgrey Cavefish APUs of, and the Intel DG1 graphics card for desktop works now without additional drivers or patches. The performance with BTRFS and NFS file systems has been improved, while there is also support for Intel SGX, a feature on some Intel processors that provides secure zones for application data.
This release also marks the long-awaited going to Wayland, replacing the X desktop server that has been a key component of most Linux environments for decades. The Wayland usually has faster performance and smoother graphic effects than the X., and better compatibility with advanced display functions, such as fractional scaling. In addition, Canonical stated in its official announcement that Firefox, OBS Studio and many applications built with Electron and Flutter, take advantage of Wayland automatically, for smoother graphics and better fractional scale.
Some other distributions - As the Fedora - have been using Wayland for quite some time, but Ubuntu hesitated to change - although it tried in 2017. If you use NVIDIA graphics card, the operating system will still be default to X11.
Ubuntu 21.04 also has an update, the Yaru, which changes certain elements of the desktop to one dark theme (dark theme) while keeping the rest of the operating system bright. Ubuntu has had its choice of light and dark themes for over a decade, but now the default look is a combination of both styles.
However, Ubuntu 21.04 does not have the latest GNOME 40 desktop environment, which has a redesigned screen, configuration improvements and updated default applications. Ubuntu adds some additional extensions on the vanilla GNOME desktop, so Canonical probably needs more time to update them before it can be "moved" to GNOME 40. This also means that is missing, at least for the time being, and GTK 4.0.
Flavors of Ubuntu
There are many official "flavors" of the main Ubuntu OS, which swap out the GNOME desktop environment and some applications for alternatives. Most of the flavors they also received a 21.04 update (or will receive it in the coming days) with their own sets of new features.
Kubuntu 21.04, which uses KDE desktop environment and applications, has been done Update to use the KDE Plasma 5.21 and KDE Frameworks 5.80. This version of Plasma includes one new app launcher, theme enhancements, a new "Breeze Twilight" theme that combines dark and light elements (similar to the updated theme on regular Ubuntu 21.04), a new system screen and more. Plasma 5.21 also has improved support for Wayland, although from the latest beta, Wayland was not enabled by default, as is the case with regular Ubuntu 21.04. You can still select Wayland on the login screen if you wish.
Lubuntu 21.04 is now available, based on lightweight LXQt 0.16.0 desktop environment. It also has Qt 5.15.2, a new Update Notifier, Discover Software Center 5.21 and other updated applications and frameworks. There is also the Ubuntu MATE 21.04, based on MATE desktop (continuation of GNOME 2.x), which has a new system theme and updated indicators.
Other flavors that have received updates include Ubuntu Budgie, Ubuntu Studio and Xubuntu. Other unofficial derivatives are likely to receive updates soon or continue to use Ubuntu 20.04 LTS as their kernel.
Ubuntu 21.04 is available for It's free λήψη from Canonical for 64-bit x86 computers. There are also system images for Raspberry Pi.
Source of information: xda-developers.com