What Ubuntu 20.04 means on the desktop

Ubuntu 20.04 desktop
Since 20.04 is a Long Term Support release, it is by nature on the conservative side of new features, both for server and desktop users. As described in the first look, there aren't many cosmetic, wow! changes this time around, but there are improvements under the hood that keep progress rolling along and should make for a better experience overall.


Running down the Ubuntu 20.04 feature list:

Linux Kernel 5.4
Deliberately NOT bleeding edge 5.5, this kernel version nonetheless introduces some new technologies and support for things like secure VPN's.

Shows OEM vendor logo during boot
It's for 'flicker-free' boot up. Not sure I care, but the vendors might.

New dark theme setting
We'll look at Yaru, the default theme another time. For now, this is Ubuntu getting on board with dark mode settings to try to save our collective eyesight. Since browsers and other apps have gone dark for the night owls, it makes sense for the desktop to darken down too.

Uses GNOME 3.36
A lot more responsive, tighter and with a few UI tweaks, Gnome Shell is maturing, slowly. Which is fine if you are used to its' quirky way of working. I dare say for a lot of casual users standard Gnome Shell works just fine. But that's not your typical Linux user. Gnome Shell still strikes me as an interesting UI experiment rather than a fully fledged end-user desktop. With Linux Mint's deliberately echoing Windows 7 / Gnome 2 desktops via MATE and Cinnamon, and KDE's Plasma on any KDE enabled distribution, Gnome Shell looks a little 'out there' (as in solitary).

Improved performance
A little difficult to tell running a minimal desktop inside a virtual machine, 20.04 feels (subjectively) quicker, but some of that will be down to the latest Gnome 3.36.

Redesigned login and lock screens
Can't say I've been holding my breath for this and barely noticed a difference from 19.10

Snap-based Ubuntu Software app
As Canonical ploughs on with its' SNAP architecture for package management to try to reduce the inconsistencies around .debs and the whole Apt infrastructure (a laudable aim), it's amusing to see that  Snap versions of Calculator, Characters and Logs apps which shipped in the last few releases have been removed from the default install and replaced with the respective apt versions!

Given the god-awful mess that the SNAPs for major software made on my workhorse install of 19.04, I haven't been near it in a while, so now may be the time to experiment again.

Improved GNOME Shell performance
20.04's desktop is noticeably more responsive, even jammed inside a minimal virtual machine, so that's a definite tick in the box.
   
Improved ZFS support
This is worth a look in its' own right. The standard desktop installer defaults to ext4, so a reintall with ZFS (which has more server benefits) will come later.

Fractional scaling toggle

The button is there, but until I try this on a dedicated graphics card and drivers, I can't prove how effective it is yet. Having looked at some demos and samples, it appears to be working fine and should be a great addition to the graphics settings in order to get that Goldilocks 'just right' resolution.



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