Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, also known as Bionic Beaver, was released today by Canonical and brings a lot of new features and changes to the widely used Linux distro. Of course, the changes will be most noticeable if you upgrade from an older version, such as Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, compared to someone upgrading from last year's Ubuntu 17.10. Either way, here is what to expect for the new Ubuntu Desktop release.
In terms of what's new since version 17.10:
- X is the default display server. Wayland is provided as a Technical Preview and is expected to be the default display server in 20.04 LTS. To try it out, just choose Ubuntu on Wayland from the cog on the log in screen.
- The installer offers a minimal install option for a basic desktop environment with a web browser and core system utilities. Many official 18.04 desktop flavors are using this new feature too!
- Apps provided by GNOME have been updated to 3.28. For more details about GNOME 3.28, see their Release Notes.
- LibreOffice has been updated to 6.0.
- Emoji now show in color in most apps. Keyboard shortcuts for the emoji input chooser are Ctrl+. or Ctrl+;
- Calendar now supports weather forecasts.
- Some utilities have been switched to the snap format for new installs (Calculator, Characters, Logs, and System Monitor). Snap apps provide better isolation which allows them to be upgraded to new stable releases during the LTS lifecycle.
- The Characters app replaces the older Character Map by default.
- The Ubuntu Software app allows easy switching between different channels for Snap apps.
- The To Do app has been added to the default normal install.
- spice-vdagent is pre-installed for better performance for Spice clients such as the GNOME Boxes app.
- The right-click method for touchpads without physical buttons has changed to a two-finger click instead of clicking in the bottom right of the touchpad. You can use the GNOME Tweaks app (not installed by default) to change this setting.
- Although libinput is the default driver for mice and touchpads, it is now possible to use the synaptics driver with the Settings app. Support for the synaptics driver will be dropped in a future Ubuntu release.
- Computers will automatically suspend after 20 minutes of inactivity while on battery power.
- GNOME Shell now supports Thunderbolt 3.
For those upgrading from version 16.04 LTS, here are some highlights of what else has changed:
- 32-bit installer images are no longer provided for Ubuntu Desktop.
- The Ubuntu Desktop now uses GNOME instead of Unity.
- GDM has replaced LightDM as the default display manager. The login screen now uses virtual terminal 1 instead of virtual terminal 7.
- Window control buttons are back on the right.
- Driverless printing support is now available.
- GNOME's built-in screen keyboard is used instead of Onboard.
- Calendar has a Week View and supports recurring events.
- These apps have received major user interface redesigns: Disk Usage Analyzer, Files (nautilus), Remmina, Settings, and Ubuntu Software.
- System Log has been replaced by Logs, an app to view logs from the systemd journal.
- Many GNOME apps now have a Keyboard Shortcuts popup available in the app menu.
- gconf is no longer installed by default since it has long been superseded by gsettings. Note that statistics and preferences for the Aisleriot card games will be reset when upgrading from 16.04 LTS or 16.10. gconf will be removed from the Ubuntu package archives in a future Ubuntu release.
- The Ubuntu GNOME flavor has been discontinued. If you are using Ubuntu GNOME, you will be upgraded to Ubuntu. Choose the Ubuntu session from the cog on the login screen if you would like the default Ubuntu experience.
- Install gnome-session then restart your computer and choose GNOME (or GNOME on Wayland) from the cog on the login screen if you would like to try a more upstream version of GNOME. If you'd like to also install more core apps, install the vanilla-gnome-desktop metapackage.
Ubuntu 18.04 LTS also comes with an updated Linux Kernel, version 4.15, that enables the latest hardware and peripherals available from IBM, Intel, and others. Also, since Ubuntu 17.10, full-disk encryption is recommended over the encrypted home option, which is no longer offered during the install process. Furthermore, Python 3 is now installed by default, superseding Python 2, and has been updated to version 3.6, while OpenSSH will only work with RSA keys equal to or greater than 1024 bits from now on.