Canonical released today Ubuntu 21.10 for download as the latest version of their popular Linux-based operating system for personal computers, servers, and cloud computing.
Dubbed as the “Impish Indri,” Ubuntu 21.10 has been in development for the past six months and comes as an upgrade to the Ubuntu 21.04 “Hiruste Hippo” release, which will reach end of life on January 2022. Ubuntu 21.10 is supported for the next nine months, until July 2022, so it’s the obvious upgrade choice.
The biggest new feature of Ubuntu 21.10 “Impish Indri” is the GNOME 40 desktop environment. This is the first Ubuntu release to ship with a complete GNOME 40 desktop, as the Ubuntu 21.04 release only offered GNOME 40 apps on top of the GNOME 3.38 desktop environment.
Therefore, Ubuntu users will finally be able to enjoy GNOME 40’s redesigned Activities Overview with dynamic horizontal workspaces, new touchpad gestures, more engaging app browsing and launching, and much more. However, the Activities Overview isn’t enabled by default and Ubuntu 21.10 doesn’t uses GNOME 40’s dock.
Ubuntu 21.10 sticks to the same look and feel that was used since 2004 with the Ubuntu 11.04 “Natty Narwhal” release, namely with the Ubuntu Dock on the left side of the screen and the menubar at the top of the screen.
Talking about look and feel, Ubuntu 21.10 features an improved Yaru theme to accommodate the GNOME 40 desktop environment and removes the mixed Light and Dark theme from the Appearance panel in System Settings, which was used in previous releases.
Another major change in Ubuntu 21.10 is the Firefox web browser as a Snap package by default. The main advantage of the Firefox Snap is that Ubuntu users will get new versions the same moment they’re released upstream, but it also improves security of the web browser since its a sandboxed app.
On the downside, it appears that the Firefox Snap has a known renderer process crash that occurs when switching virtual terminals or resuming from suspend. Canonical says that this is caused by the same issue that renders WebGL non-functional in Wayland sessions.
It is said that this issue will be fixed in the upcoming Firefox 94 release, due out on November 2nd, 2021, so as a temporary workaround users can switch to the Firefox 94 Beta channel using the
snap refresh firefox --beta command in the Terminal app.
The Firefox Snap is not used by default in the official Ubuntu flavors like Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu Studio, Ubuntu Budgie, Ubuntu MATE, or Ubuntu Kylin. However, Canonical will force the Firefox Snap on all official Ubuntu flavors starting with Ubuntu 22.04 LTS.
Also new in Ubuntu 21.10 is support for the NVIDIA proprietary graphics driver on the Wayland session, support for Bluetooth LDAC and AptX codecs, as well as HFP Bluetooth profiles for better Bluetooth audio quality with PulseAudio 15 and PipeWire, and systemd now uses the “unified” cgroup hierarchy (cgroup v2) by default.
This is also the first Ubuntu release to offer an alternate live ISO image that features Ubuntu’s next-generation Desktop Installer written in Google’s Flutter SDK. Users can test drive the new Ubuntu Desktop Installer using the Ubuntu 21.10 Canary images from here.
Under the hood, Ubuntu 21.10 is powered by Linux kernel 5.13, which introduces initial Apple M1 support, support for upcoming Intel and AMD chips like Intel Alderlake S or AMD Adebaran, support for Microsoft Surface laptops and tablets, support for Kernel Electric Fence (KFENCE), and much more.
“Enabled by default [KFENCE], Ubuntu 21.10 will randomise the memory location of the kernel stack at each system-call entry on both the amd64 and arm64 architectures with a minimum impact on performance.”
However, Linux kernel 5.13 is no longer supported upstream. It reached end of life on September 18th, 2021, which means that Canonical will try to support it until the end of life of Ubuntu 21.10 by backporting the latest security patches from the mainline kernel. Of course, users are free to upgrade to Linux kernel 5.14.
Ubuntu 21.10 also ships with an up-to-date toolchain consisting of GCC 11.2, GNU C Library 2.34, GNU Binutils 2.37, LLVM 13, Golang 1.17, rustc 1.51, PHP 8.0.8, and OpenJDK 18, all of which greatly improve everyday developer security awareness in low-level programming.
“As Open Source becomes the new default, we aim to bring Ubuntu to all the corners of the enterprise and all the places developers want to innovate,” said Mark Shuttleworth. “Open Source is the springboard for new ideas and Ubuntu makes that springboard safe, secure and consistent.”
On the server side of things, Ubuntu Server 21.10 ships with OpenStack Xena, Open vSwitch 2.16, Chrony 4.1, Containerd 1.5.5, QEMU 6.0, Libvirt 7.6, OpenLDAP 2.5.6, Apache 2.4.48, Corosync 3.1.2, Runc 1.0.1, BIND 9.16.15, and Telegraf 1.19.2. Also, resource-agents and fence-agents were split into curated and non-curated agents.
For Raspberry Pi users, Ubuntu 21.10 brings support for Sense HAT (can be installed using
sudo apt install sense-hat) and Sense HAT desktop emulator (can be installed using
sudo apt install sense-emu-tools). Moreover, this release removes support for Raspberry Pi CM3 due to a lack of storage capacity.
Ubuntu 21.10 “Impish Indri” is available for download right now as Desktop and Server images. This is the final interim release before the next Ubuntu LTS, due out in April 2022 and supported at least until 2032. The official Ubuntu flavors are also available for download here.
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