Canonical's latest iteration to the Ubuntu operating system is Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa, released on April 23, 2020. This is an LTS (long term support) release - the type of release that Canonical only publishes every two years, and continues to support for the next five.
In this article, we're going to go over some of the features we're most excited about, and cover a lot of the differences between Focal Fossa and Ubuntu's previous LTS release, Bionic Beaver. Read on as we take you through some of the upcoming changes.
Release schedule and LTS support
As a Ubuntu user, it's recommended to use the latest Long Term Support release. These releases are tested, stable, and secure iterations of Canonical's beloved Ubuntu operating system. And yes, they are always free. You can upgrade your system with confidence when switching to the newest LTS release.
Contrast this with Ubuntu's interim releases, which are inherently short-lived and less stable versions of Ubuntu that developers and enterprises can use to test the upcoming features expected in the LTS release of the operating system.
The screenshot above shows us that LTS releases come out every two years and continue to receive support and updates for five years after that. After April 23rd 2020 you're ready to upgrade your system, you can check out our guide on How To Upgrade Ubuntu To 20.04 LTS Focal Fossa Linux.
A new version of Ubuntu means there has been a few changes, but of course it has also remained faithful to the same old Ubuntu that you've come to know and trust for years. We'll go over some of the most noteworthy new elements in this section.
1. GNOME and visual improvements
Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa comes with GNOME 3.36 installed. It's chock-full of visual improvements, resulting in better performance and a more aesthetically pleasing graphical experience. There's also a new lock screen design and support for fractional scaling under X11.A sleeker theme
GNOME's new default theme is called "Yaru." Even upon first loading into Focal Fossa, the desktop gives off a much more modern and sleek vibe. This is mostly thanks to some color tweaks in the default theme and a darker wallpaper. The updated GNOME also allows you to choose between three different color themes: light, standard, or dark. Standard is the default, but the dark theme looks very nice:
2. No Amazon link on your desktop
The Amazon desktop launcher was part of Ubuntu releases for the last eight or so years but it's not part of Focal Fossa, to which we say, "Good riddance." Canonical has finally conceded to leave the built-in advertising behind and allow users to decide if they want a big Amazon icon on their desktop or not.
3. ZFS support
Ubuntu introduced native support of ZFS in the 2019 interim release of Eoan Ermine. In Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa, ZFS support has been further improved, though still flagged as being experimental. When installing Focal Fossa, you have the option to use ZFS if you click "advanced features" when asked about how you'd like to format your hard drive.
The newest version of Ubuntu features performance enhancements for ZFS and support for encryption. Ubuntu has a ZFS system tool called Zsys, which provides automated system and user state saving. It also integrates better with GRUB so a user can revert to an earlier system state before booting into the desktop.
Acceptance of ZFS in the enterprise world is still shaky, but it doesn't seem to be going anywhere. Seeing support for it on a really popular distribution like Ubuntu is pretty neat.
4. New wallpaper
As with every release of Ubuntu, Focal Fossa comes with new wallpaper. If you've not already noticed, there's a theme to Ubuntu's naming scheme and wallpaper designs. The second word in a release's name is that of an animal, and the wallpaper is themed after that animal. A fossa is a cat-like mammal native to Madagascar.
Personally, we think the wallpaper looks pretty good and jives quite well with Ubuntu's current look. Check it out for yourself:
5. Python 3
Python programmers will find it important to note that Ubuntu 20.04 doesn't come with Python 2 installed. While it can still be installed and used, this move can definitely be interpreted as a nudge to encourage programmers to adapt their code to Python 3 and move on from the aging version.
6. Kernel 5.4
Focal Fossa uses Linux kernel 5.4, which includes exFAT support, kernel lockdown, Wireguard VPN, AUFS5, and a lot of other various improvements, including support for IBM, Intel, Raspberry Pi, and AMD hardware. This probably doesn't mean a lot to most users - the takeaway is that the newer kernel makes Ubuntu more capable of handling upcoming and diverse technology, which is an essential part of what makes an LTS release reliable for a few years.
7. Ubuntu Server packages
Ubuntu Server comes with updated versions for a lot of the most commonly installed server related packages. Among the list are an updated HA/Clustering stack, PHP 7.4, Ruby 2.7, Postgres 12, MySQL 8 and updated OpenSSH with U2F support for security. Canonical is certainly not neglecting their server edition, as they strive to remain relevant in the cloud industry and bare metal datacenters.
Although Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa is only two new years newer than the previous LTS release, technology moves fast and there have been many improvements made. And while most of these changes take place under the hood, Focal Fossa's new look and smooth feel is unmistakable, even to the most casual of users.
This article explained Ubuntu's release schedule and touched on some of the most major changes coming to Focal Fossa. We like the new version of Ubuntu and are excited to see its widespread adoption. Stick with us for more guides on Focal Fossa, as we continue to poke around and share our findings with you.