In a turnout of events, it would appear that the upcoming Ubuntu 21.04 (Hirsute Hippo) operating system will ship with the GNOME 3.38 desktop environment by default rather than GNOME 40.
According to Ubuntu developer Sebastien Bacher, the Ubuntu 21.04 “Hirsute Hippo” release, which is due in April 2021, will stick to the GNOME 3.38 desktop environment series and the GTK 3 toolkit already used in the current release, Ubuntu 20.10 (Groovy Gorilla).
Since GNOME is the default desktop environment of Ubuntu, each new Ubuntu release is following the six-month-long release cycle of the upstream GNOME Stack, so Ubuntu 21.04 was supposed to ship with the forthcoming GNOME 40 desktop by default, due for release at the end of March 2021.
However, due to the new shell design that the GNOME Project announced a few months ago, the Ubuntu developers are refraining from upgrading the desktop packages to GNOME 40 because it might have a major impact on Ubuntu’s desktop and extensions.
“The new shell design, is it going to be fully ready in one cycle? What’s the impact on our desktop and extensions?,” said Sebastien Bacher. “Those are topics we are going to spend resources on and ideally we would be helping to move things forward, but it’s already mid-cycle, we didn’t account for any of those and the team is already overworked.”
Same goes for the recently released GTK 4 toolkit, which won’t be available in the upcoming Ubuntu 21.04 release due to theming concerns as Canonical develops its own desktop theme for Ubuntu called Yaru.
To be honest, all of this feels really disappointing, that the Ubuntu and GNOME developers didn’t had the time to collaborate and synchronize their work, but I am hopeful that we’ll be able to install and run the upcoming GNOME 40 desktop environment on Ubuntu 21.04 after its release in late April.
Last updated 1 month ago