Ubuntu Linux has been synonymous with user-friendly for a very long time. With each release, the desktop offers something new along with the usual reliability found in Canonical’s operating system. And when Jammy Jellyfish (22.04) is unleashed, users will find a mixture of old and new, something that is especially salient within the realm of GNOME.
Let me explain.
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Sometime in March 2022, GNOME 42 will be made generally available. What’s interesting about GNOME 42 is that much of the components are set to be ported from GTK3 to GTK4. This is especially so in the GNOME Control Center (where 30+ modules must be ported). G42 is also set to include a system-wide dark theme and a reworked libadwaita (GTK 4 library implementing the GNOME Human Interface Guidelines, complementing GTK).
However, it’s unclear if Ubuntu 22.04 will include the full GNOME 42 or not. As it stands, the daily builds of Jammy Jellyfish are an odd mixture of GNOME 40 and 41. Hopefully, as GNOME 42 nears release, it will prove itself worthy of inclusion with Ubuntu 22.04. The reason for this concern is Long Term Support (LTS) releases are always focused on usability and reliability. Because GNOME 42 will be released so near to the release of Ubuntu 22.04 (April 2022), there’s no way Canonical would run the risk of including software that wasn’t already proven.
But no matter what happens with GNOME 42 in Jammy Jellyfish, the chance you’ll see a full roster of GTK4 apps is slim. If I had to guess, we’ll definitely see the GTK4 version of the GNOME Control Center. Beyond that, it’s unclear.
What we do know is Ubuntu 22.04 will include some pretty impressive new features and improvements. Let’s take a look.
New features of Jammy Jellyfish
Besides GNOME 42, the list of features in Jammy Jellyfish is headlined by a new firmware updater tool. For the longest time, this process was taken care of from within the Software Center. That changes as of 22.04, with a new GUI frontend for the fwupd command, which will makes updating firmware something even new users can take care of.
Another exciting piece to be added is a new installer. The traditional Ubuntu installer has been completely revamped. This new installer still evokes the usual simplicity of Ubuntu but has a much more modern feel to it. The new installer was built using Google’s Flutter UI SDK.
Also added is the Ubuntu Pro tab within the Software & Updates utility. This allows you to easily attach up to three machines (or 50 if you’re an official Ubuntu Community member) to a Ubuntu Advantage account for free security updates for over 30k packages. Other advantages of Ubuntu Pro include extended security maintenance, livepatch and compliance/hardening (FIPS 140-2, FIPS Updates, CC-EAL2, and CIS tools).
You’ll also find new multitasking and Ubuntu Dock options within the Settings application.
Improvements in Ubuntu 22.04
The list of improvements found in Ubuntu 22.04 is a bit longer than the new features (which is usually the case). The list includes such things as:
- Expanded Raspberry Pi support (including models with as little as 2GB of RAM)
- PHP 8.1
- Kernel 5.15 (which will be slightly out of date, but this is an LTS release)
- OpenSSL 3.0
- Ruby 3.0
- Golan 1.8
- Python 3.10.0
- Grub 2.06
- Major performance enhancements for the mutter window manager
You can download the Ubuntu 22.04 daily build, but know that the new installer has yet to make its way into the system and you’ll find GNOME to look and feel similar to what it was in 21.10. In fact, at first blush, the daily (as a whole) appears very much as it has since 21.04. In fact, the wallpaper is a holdover from the previous release. That’s OK because what Ubuntu has to offer is a pretty outstanding desktop operating system.
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