Thursday, 9 April 2020

First Look: Ubuntu 20.04 'Focal Fossa'

Ubuntu 20.04, code name 'Focal Fossa', is the next long term support (LTS) release. In line with Canonical’s typical 6-month development cycle, Ubuntu 20.04 LTS is planned for release on April 23, 2020. 


LTS releases - in April every two years - receive updates and security fixes for five years after release to the public, which, for Ubuntu 20.04, provides some peace of mind up to 2025. Providing 'enterprise-grade' stability for planning and maintenance purposes, around 95% of all Ubuntu installations on desktop and servers are LTS releases. This is distinct from interim releases every six months which get only nine months distributor support to their official end of life. The advantage of the interim releases is the inclusion of the latest technologies during development.

The release number itself identifies the year and month of release; 2020, 04 - April.

New Features in Ubuntu 20.04


The priority in LTS releases is stability; everything is thoroughly shaken down and only the most tested and stable code goes in. If you're on the LTS cycle of upgrading only every two years, you might see a lot of changes (particularly user interface). However, those taking each six monthly release will notice mostly incremental changes unless there's a major shift in direction - the last time was when Canonical ditched the Unity desktop for 18.04 to go with Gnome 3.0 and Gnome Shell. Users of 18.04, 18.10, 19.04 and 19.10 won't see a huge cosmetic difference arriving at 20.04.

Yaru has been the default user interface theme for all versions since 18.04, so the default desktop colors, size, borders, shadows, and shapes remain the same, with a dark variant in 19.04. In Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, Yaru gets three variants, Yaru dark, Yaru Light and Yaru 'standard'.

While Ubuntu 20.04 makes use of the latest GNOME release (3.36), version features such as improved Cantarell fonts design, keyboard shortcuts for the image viewer and additional preference changes in the GNOME web browser like crashed tab fixes and opening PDF’s, are incremental fixes and improvements.

After eight years of community backlash, Canonical is removing the Amazon launcher that loads in the default web browser Firefox.

Notwithstanding some technical and licensing concerns, Ubuntu became the first Linux distribution to default to ZFS in the 19.04 release and continues to push this in 20.04 as a stable file system offering data protection; although... ext4 is still the default file system for a clean install.

The Linux 5.4 kernel includes Linux Kernel Lockdown, which aims to ensure security by restricting access to the kernel, exFAT support, and more, and for LTS stability, Canonical is sticking with this and not moving to 5.5 just yet.

Ubuntu 20.04 does not come pre-installed with backward-compatible Python2, only Python3, which means users and developers will have to adapt any legacy code to Python3 or get into more demanding work-rounds to keep Python2 in play (but unsupported!).

As usual there's a new set of wallpapers and theme options in 20.04.

The stable Beta versions of 20.04 are available to download which is what I've done to install it onto a virtual machine in VirtualBox in order to do some hands on testing. RC

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