Ubuntu 21.04

Canonical has unveiled a new version of Ubuntu with support for features that should appeal to larger enterprises. In a blog post published Thursday, the company announced Ubuntu 21.04 with integration with Microsoft Active Directory and joint support for SQL Server with Microsoft.

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Active Directory

Ubuntu workstations will now be able to join Active Directory domains where they can be centrally managed and configured based on company policies.

Administrators will be able to use Group Policy to set password requirements, user access control and other security options on all connected Ubuntu machines, Canonical said. Admins can also tweak key desktop environment settings such as the login screen, background and required applications.

“Ubuntu Desktop is an increasingly common requirement for software development teams,” Canonical said in a white paper called Integration of Ubuntu Desktop with Microsoft Active Directory. “IT departments want to be able to support and enable the development teams who are asking for Ubuntu, and so integration into the existing directory solution is essential. There are both free and paid-for options to make the integration of Active Directory straightforward and manageable.”

SQL Server

Canonical and Microsoft have teamed up to support Ubuntu with Microsoft SQL Server both for on-premises systems and images available through the Azure Marketplace. The product’s database management system and command-line interface are both accessible on Ubuntu images in Azure. The support for SQL Server has even been backported to Ubuntu 20.04.2 LTS, so the latest version isn’t required.

The joint support for SQL Server includes certain enhancements, such as Force Unit Access on XFS file systems for data durability, which ensures that any transactions written to the database will survive in the event of a system crash. The persistent memory feature kicks in high-performance data storage without any need for further tweaks. Plus, the platform uses the Corosync and Pacemaker cluster tools to ensure data resilience.

Other features

Ubuntu 21.04 has other tricks up its sleeve. The new version uses Wayland graphics by default, offering a faster performance over that of X server. A built-in software development kit for Google’s Flutter development platform tries to simplify the process of publishing Flutter-based apps. Firefox, OBS Studio and other apps built with Flutter and the Electron platform automatically tap into Wayland for smoother graphics, Canonical said.

“Canonical has been a fantastic contributor to Flutter, enabling Linux desktop support in Flutter and opening up the opportunity to bring high-quality Flutter apps to Linux,” Flutter product manager Chris Sells said in the blog post.

Finally, Ubuntu 21.04 sports an improved dark theme called Yaro, with better navigation and new file icons. The Yaro theme is maintained by the user community and backed by Canonical.

Users can grab the new desktop version of Ubuntu at Canonical’s download page.