In the Linux universe, April is a month of traditions: it’s when a new version of Ubuntu is officially released (just like October). The ball of the moment is the Ubuntu 23.04 “Lunar Lobster”which comes with the enhanced desktop environment gnome 44kernel Linux 6.2 and even a new, user-friendly installer.
The versatile Gnome 44
O gnome 44 is the main attraction of the distribution. The new version of the desktop environment doesn’t bring any big news. Instead, there are a set of small changes that make it interesting not only for the look, but for the functional aspect.
As an example, the OMG!Ubuntu! draws attention to the login and lock screens, which now display a larger user avatar, as well as a wider password box.
There’s also a new flyout under the Bluetooth icon that lets you quickly connect or disconnect paired devices. This icon is accessed from the quick settings menu in the top right corner. Now, this area is also able to give access to applications that are in the background.
The settings area (Settings) received interface tweaks and new options. For example, the About option now displays the distribution’s Linux kernel version.
The Ubuntu Dock, the vertical bar on the left of the interface, is now able to display a notification counter on the icons pinned there, just like it does on iOS or Android.
Other Gnome 44 new features in Ubuntu include a reorganization of accessibility options and Nautilus (file manager) capable of showing the contents of a folder without having to access it.
In general, the user experience became more fluid. Merit for continuing the migration to the GTK 4 interface development kit, a job that began in earnest in Gnome 41.
Linux Kernel 6.2, new installer and more
Ubuntu 23.04 ships with Linux kernel 6.2, a version released in February that improves compatibility with Apple M1 chips, Intel Arc GPUs and open drivers for Nvidia RTX 3000 cards.
In the visible part, a notable detail is the distribution’s installer, now completely based on the Flutter framework, developed by Google to facilitate the creation of cross-platform applications.
With Flutter, Canonical continues to keep Ubuntu installation intuitive. The first screen involves setting the language. The others allow the user to choose full or minimal installation, define their geolocation, set up an account and even indicate a light or dark theme as default.
An ever-important detail in the installer is that, right after the language screen, you can choose between installing or testing Ubuntu. In this last option, you will get to know the operating system by running it from the pendrive.
Among the pre-installed software are the Firefox 111 browser, the Thunderbird 102 email client and the LibreOffice 7.5.2 office suite.
For developers and power users there are resources like Ruby 3.1, Python 3.11, Qemu 7.2.0 (for virtualization) and Remmina 1.4.29 (for remote access).
A novelty that may be unpleasant is the complete replacement of Flatpak (for installation and package management) by Snap. The explanation given by Canonical for this is that Snaps are supported on both servers and desktops, while Flatpak was designed only for graphical interface (GUI) installations.
Anyone who wants to continue with Flatpak must install it from the Ubuntu repositories.
Ubuntu 23.04: When and Where?
Ubuntu 23.04 “Lunar Lobster” was officially released this Thursday (April 20). You can do installation image download from the official website. For those using the previous version (22.10), the update to the new distribution may take a few days to be released.
Note that on the download page it is also possible to find a minimalist image (Netboot Tarball) as only 143 MB in size.
For those starting from a new installation, the tip is to download the tool rufus. With it, you can create an installation USB stick from Windows (you may need to configure the target computer to boot via USB).
Interestingly, the new version marks the return of a “flavor” of Ubuntu that had been discontinued in 2016: the edubuntuwhich brings the Gnome environment together with a series of educational tools for children and young people.