Everybody loves shiny new things and those who love Ubuntu are no different. The latest shiny thing in the Ubuntu world came out last Thursday in the form of the latest Ubuntu release 21.04 code-named Hirsute Hippo. As I have already hinted in my brief review of the beta version, while Ubuntu 21.04 doesn’t look that different from its predecessor, it does come with plenty of changes under the hood.
Most notable among the latest slew of visible and under the hood changes are the following:
- This version of Ubuntu now uses Wayland instead of Xorg by default. They are probably testing this early to make sure it’s stable by the time the next LTS is released next year
- Tighter integration with Windows Active Directory. Ubuntu works closely with Windows on many projects because even in the real world you have Windows and Ubuntu machines on the same network. Making sure they play nice with each other is part of what Canonical does.
- Home directories are now private by default. In geek-speak we now have 750 permissions instead of the old 755 permissions. This means others will not be able to see what’s in your directory by default. Others don’t include root. (root sees everything)
- You now get recovery keys for an encrypted installation
- A new enhanced dark theme
- The new Linux 5.11 kernel comes with new drivers and better hardware support.
- I personally couldn’t tell but apparently, they have made new icons too. Kind of reminds me of the Xiaomi icon change that cost a lot even though I could not tell it had been changed.
- Improved audio handling courtesy of Pipewire
- Flutter SDK. Ubuntu is tailored towards developers in ways Windows can only dream of.
You might want to hold on from updating
Personally I only ever use LTS versions so I will most certainly be skipping this release. It’s stable and production-ready but I really prefer things to be even more stable and I certainly don’t want to be changing my operating system every 9 months. Non-LTS versions are quick to be forgotten. In fact, the Ubuntu team is now working on Impish Idri (21.10).
A lot of people will love Ubuntu 21.04 but you might want to wait before you hit that update button that’s if you are even seeing it at all. There is a severe bug that will make your computer un-bootable if you upgrade now. You can fix that of course but novices who panic at the sign of a black screen are better off waiting.
The problem is being fixed and you should be able to safely upgrade in the few coming weeks but I would recommend that you wait at least a month before you consider upgrading. Otherwise, you will find yourself having to get real intimate with the command line as you try to fix the results of the bug.