Last week, Canonical released Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (codenamed “Bionic Beaver”), the latest long-term support version of the Ubuntu Linux distribution. Ars is working on a full review of the release, but I wanted to share some first impressions of the desktop, which is a major advance over the last LTS version.
Canonical made a bit of a U-turn in its interface plans while developing the last interim release of Ubuntu (17.10, codenamed “Artful Aardvark”)—dropping development of its homegrown Unity interface and application launcher (as well as development of an Ubuntu phone), saying goodbye to the Ambiance interface theme of old and embracing the GNOME 3.28 desktop instead. Also significant is the integration of Snapcraft’s “snap” format—a universal containerized installer format for packaged applications on all Linux platforms—into Ubuntu’s application store.
Ubuntu had settled on the Wayland display server for 17.10 as a default because Canonical wanted to boost 3D graphics capabilities, but it has switched back to X.org graphics server as the default for 18.04, mostly because Wayland’s support for screen sharing in applications such as Google Hangouts and Skype isn’t quite there. There is also support for remote desktop applications based on RDP and VNC, according to Canonical’s Desktop Engineering Manager Will Cooke, and “recoverability from Shell crashes is less dramatic under Xorg.” But Wayland is still pre-installed and can be selected at login, and Cooke said that Canonical would take another look at making it default for version 18.10.
Most of the major internal changes in 18.04 LTS are more important on the server side. But so far, as Ars’ primary day-to-day Linux desktop user, I’ve been really impressed with the snappiness and usability of this latest LTS desktop.