Pop!_OS 20.04 Review: Professional Linux Distribution Ever Made

The latest buzz in the Linux world is the System76's major release, the Pop OS 20.04. Let's take a detailed look into the new features, how to upgrade your existing Pop!_OS, and a ride through video!

Linux is growing faster than ever. As per the latest report, there is a drop in the Windows 10 market share for the first time, and Linux’s market share has improved to 2.87% this month.

Honestly, this news isn’t a huge surprise. Linux has started to take off from 2019 onwards due to several reasons. To quickly put it together in a nutshell, Linux is growing due to its reliability, security, better user experience, lesser system resources usage, customization, and the myriad of Linux options available for the user.

Introduction

When I say “Linux options,” it’s the number of Linux distros to choose from as per the user’s taste. One such distro we are going to review today is Pop!_OS. System76, one of the growing Linux hardware computer makers, has unleashed the latest and greatest Pop!_OS 20.04 that is grabbing a lot of attention these days.

Pop!_OS desktop
Pop!_OS 20.04 desktop

Derived from Ubuntu, Pop OS Linux distribution uses GNOME as the desktop environment combined with in-house made Pop OS shell, and the core design language they have been implementing is to have a distraction-free desktop. I have been using the distro since the release of the 20.04 version in April this year, and I can say for sure that it is a very functional, elegant Linux distribution, just works out of the box, and still remains tweakable.

Pop!_OS Major Features

Here are the significant features:

  • Encryption out of the box
  • does not collect or store any info from user installations
  • Pop OS shell’s Window Auto-Tiling feature
  • Firmware Management
  • Handy keyboard shortcuts for mouse-free usage
  • Hybrid Graphics
  • Smooth animations, but still feather-light on system resources

Most of the features I mentioned in the list were rolled out in Pop OS 20.04. Let’s take a detailed look into the fantastic new features and take you on a ride through this beautiful Linux distro.

Pop!_OS 20.04 Review: New Features

1. Tile Windows

This new feature located on the top right corner of the screen when enabled automatically tiles the opened and newly launched windows. You can set the distance between the windows using the +/- buttons in the “Gaps” section. To increase productivity, you can use the keyboard shortcuts to navigate, move, and resize windows all with your keyboard.

Window Tiling
Window Tiling

The better part is when you start closing the existing windows. It automatically resizes the other open windows to utilize the available space. I absolutely love this feature and is more efficient if you have a larger display. You can anytime toggle the mode to revert to floating mode.

2. New Application Launcher

Type Super + /, and you should see the new application launcher and switcher. You can start typing the name of the application you want to switch to or launch.

Quick Launcher
Quick Application Launcher

3. GNOME 3.36

The new version of GNOME itself bought plenty of new features, primarily new lockscreen, new extensions, improved power options menu, App folders renaming, and a host of other improvements outlined in the GNOME 3.36 release notes. You get all these features in the latest version of Pop_OS.

4. Flatpak support with the Flathub

Pop!_Shop is the place where you start looking for applications to install on your Pop OS system. It is also a one-stop window for updating your system and is similar to the Ubuntu software center. The shop now includes Flatpak apps support and the Flathub application repository by default.

Flatpak support
Flatpak support

You can see the Flathub option while viewing the application details. What this means to you is access to thousands of high-quality opensource apps that are housed under the Flatpak repository, where the number of quality apps is growing every day.

5. Hybrid Graphics

If your computer has dedicated graphics along with an integrated one, you can now choose Hybrid Graphics mode from the Power options menu. This mode lets you save battery life by using integrated graphics while launching certain apps on the dedicated GPU on a need basis.

Hybrid Graphics Mode
Hybrid Graphics Mode

While in Hybrid Graphics mode, you will see increased battery life when compared to when solely on the dedicated graphics mode. There is, of course, the integrated graphics mode that will give the best laptop battery juice. On my test laptop, I noticed twice the battery life while using the Hybrid method compared to the dedicated graphics mode.

Switching between the modes, you will have to restart the computer. I understand it’s not convenient to restart the entire system just for the purpose – may be System76 can invoke the new settings by simply logging off and logging in. Ubuntu MATE 20.04 does it, and so I think It should be doable. System76 dev’s, are you listening?

6. Default Dark theme mode

On the eye-candy side, Pop!_OS shines brighter too. The Dark mode is enabled by default, but there is still the lighter variant available via the Appearance settings. You also see the new default desktop wallpaper, which has this rubbery texture and feel – it’s a refreshing touch to the already great looking desktop.

Dark Theme is now default
Dark theme is now default

Apart from the above new features, the OS includes the older Linux Kernel 5.4, and new keyboard navigations added. You can find a huge list of shortcuts in the Settings app that could be overwhelmingly tiring to memorize in a single go, but if you make this OS as a daily driver, you will eventually get used to it.

Keyboard Navigation
Keyboard Navigation

Upgrading your existing Pop!_OS 19.10 or 18.04

You should be able to upgrade to the latest version of Pop_OS by using the following commands in the Terminal.

sudo apt update
sudo apt full-upgrade

If you prefer a GUI way, go to the “About” page, and you should see a message that Pop!_OS 20.04 is available. Click on the “Download” button and wait until the OS is downloaded.

Download Pop!_OS 20.04
Download Pop!_OS 20.04

After the download is done, you will see a notification saying the upgrade is ready. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the update.

Final Thoughts

Pop_OS 20.04 Applications Screen
Pop_OS 20.04 Applications Screen

Pop!_OS is certainly a Linux distribution that will have a significant impact on the world of desktop computing. It comes with a footprint and style of its own, and it’s not just another skin on Ubuntu. The dev team is highly focused, and it’s evident from the roadmap they have lined up, the future of Pop!_OS looks excellent. I highly recommend you to download Pop OS 20.04, create a live USB drive, and take it for a spin. Do let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Kiran Kumar
Hi there! I'm Kiran Kumar, founder of FOSSLinux.com. I'm an avid Linux lover and enjoy hands-on with new promising distros. Currently, I'm using Ubuntu as a daily driver and run several other distros such as Fedora, Solus, Manjaro, Debian, and some new ones on my test PC and virtual machines. I have a day job as an Engineer, and this website is one of my favorite past time activities, especially during Winter ;). When I'm not writing for FOSSLinux, I'm seen biking and hiking on scenic trails. I hope you enjoy using this website as much as I do writing for it. Feedback from readers is something that inspires me to do more and spread Linux love!. If you find a time, drop me an email or feedback from the 'Contact' page. Or simply leave a comment below if you found this article useful. Have a good day!

5 COMMENTS

  1. Do you advise installing and taking it for a spin on let’s say a 2012 era Toshiba laptop? I’ve got a request to have something nice and flashy for a friend who wishes to replace her old Win7 OS.

  2. Yes you can give it a shot but i would recommend ubuntudde 20.04 which i am using right now in older laptop with amd a4 processor

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