Canonical released today the Ubuntu 21.04 operating system, dubbed Hirsute Hippo, as the culmination of six months of work to bring up-to-date technologies to the Ubuntu community.
Powered by the Linux kernel 5.11 series, Ubuntu 21.04 (Hirsute Hippo) is here to introduce new GNU/Linux and Open Source technologies to users, such as the use of the next-generation Wayland display server by default, and the integration of a Flutter application development SDK.
Wayland by default is probably the biggest change in Ubuntu 21.04, providing better security and increased performance. However, Wayland won’t be enabled for all configurations as it doesn’t play well, yet, with NVIDIA graphics cards. As such, Linux gamers will be forced to switch back to the Xorg session.
During the development cycle of Ubuntu 21.04, Canonical announced that they choose to use Google’s Flutter open-source UI software development kit to build future apps, starting with Ubuntu’s graphical installer. But anyone who wants to build Flutter apps can now use the Flutter SDK in Ubuntu.
Firefox, which is Ubuntu’s default web browser, as well as many other popular apps built with Electron and Flutter, like OBS Studio, will automatically take advantage of Wayland for smoother graphics and better fractional scaling.
“For developers and innovators, Ubuntu 21.04 delivers Wayland and Flutter for smoother graphics and clean, beautiful, design-led cross platform development,” said Mark Shuttleworth, CEO of Canonical.
Apart from Wayland and Flutter SDK, Ubuntu 21.04 comes with several other notable features, such as support for smart card authentication, PipeWire support for improved screen recording and better audio handling on sandboxed apps, as well as nftables as the default firewall backend.
On the desktop side of things, Ubuntu 21.04 (Hirsute Hippo) is still using the GNOME 3.38 shell, but most of the apps have been updated to the latest GNOME 40 stack. This will ensure an up-to-date app ecosystem for Ubuntu users, while the graphical layout remains unchanged.
However, fans of dark themes will be pleased to learn that Ubuntu’s deafult theme Yaru received a redesigned dark theme with accessibility improvements in navigation and new file icons.
Among other noteworthy changes, Ubuntu 21.04 adds support for specifying a recovery key in the installer, which can be used to decrypt the disk if you forgot your password, proper handling of drag and drop interactions in the desktop view, as well as the ability to change the power profile mode from System Settings.
Under the hood, the Hirsute Hippo release comes with an updated toolchain consisting of GNU C Library 2.33, GCC 10.3, GNU Binutils 2.36.1, Python 3.9.4, Perl 5.32.1, LLVM 12. Golang 1.16.x, rustc 1.50, Ruby 2.7.2, OpenJDK 11 and OpenJDK 16, PulseAudio 14, BlueZ 5.56, and NetworkManager 1.30.
SecureBoot support on x86_64 (amd64) and AArch64 (arm64) architectures was improved as well in this release to include SBAT-capable shim, GRUB2, and fwupd. Also improved is the Active Directory integration to support out of the box user authentication with GPO.
On the server side of things, Ubuntu Server ships with Rails 6, QEMU 5.2, Libvirt 7.0, DPDK 20.11.1, Open vSwitch 2.15, Chrony 4.0, strongSwan 5.9.1, OpenVPN 2.5.1, Virt-manager 3.2.0, PostgreSQL 13.2, Samba 4.13.3, SSSD 2.40, Net-SNMP 5.9, Rsyslog 8.2102.0, Containerd 1.4.4, Docker.io 20.10.2, Runc 1.0.0-rc93, and OpenStack Wallaby. Also, needrestart is now installed by default, targetcli-fb replaces tgt, and there’s support for MS SQL Server.
For Raspberry Pi users, Ubuntu 21.04 brings support for accelerated Wayland-based desktop, support for GPIO via libgpiod and the new liblgpio library, an updated gpiozero library with liblgpio support, and support for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 (CM4) board.
The Ubuntu 21.04 release is dedicated in memory of Adam Conrad, a long-term member of the Ubuntu release team and Canonical employee. It was recently brought to my attention that Adam passed away earlier this year after being unwell for some time. May his soul rest in peace!
“The Ubuntu Release Team dedicates 21.04 “Hirsute Hippo” to our colleague and friend infinity. He is missed and will live in our hearts forever.”
You can download Ubuntu 21.04 (Hirsute Hippo) right now using the direct download link below. You can also update your Ubuntu 20.10 (Groovy Gorilla) installations, but please note that upgrades aren’t enabled on systems where EFI 1.10 is used as these might end up in an unbootable state.
Ubuntu 21.04 will be supported by Canonical for nine months, until February 2022. If you’re not into Ubuntu, do check out what’s new in the official Ubuntu 21.04 flavors here.
Last updated 6 months ago