What’s New in Ubuntu 21.04 – Download Beta Now!

We shall look at the new features and updates you can expect with Ubuntu 21.04 public release. Note that this is an interim release with nine (9) months of support until January 2022. Hence we don't recommend it for production use where stability is a high priority. If you are a user who loves testing and trying out newer packages, go ahead and try out this new release.

Finally, Ubuntu 21.04 Beta, which goes with the codename ‘Hirsute Hippo’, is out and available for the masses. It is the latest interim release after Ubuntu 20.10 (Groovy Gorilla), released on October 22, 2020.

For users not familiar with the Ubuntu lifecycle and release cadence – Canonical (the company behind Ubuntu projects’ development) publishes new releases of Ubuntu regularly, enabling its users, the business community, and developers to plan for upgrades and access to more recent packages. Ubuntu version numbers are also based on the Year and Month (YY.MM) of release. For example, Ubuntu 20.10 was released in the year 2020 October (20.10). Ubuntu comes in two major releases:

  • LTS (Long Term Support) release.
  • Interim release.

LTS releases are published every two years in April and supported for eight years total. However, Five (5) of these years are regarded as standard support, and the rest transition into the Extended Security Maintenance (EMS). EMS enables organizations and businesses to pay for continued support. Interim releases are published every six (6) months between LTS releases and are only supported for nine (9) months.

Ubuntu 21.04 Application Launcher
Ubuntu 21.04 Application Launcher

This post will look at the new features and updates you can expect with Ubuntu 21.04 release. Being an interim release with nine (9) months of support until January 2022, I would not recommend it for production. In such a scenario, opt for Ubuntu 20.04 LTS and enjoy the 5-year standard support. However, if you are a user who loves testing and trying out newer packages like me, go ahead and try out this new release. Please, remember to share your experience with our readers in the comment section.

Download Ubuntu 21.04 from the link below:

Ubuntu 21.04 Download

What’s New in Ubuntu 21.04 (Hirsute Hippo)

Ubuntu 21.04 Desktop
Ubuntu 21.04 Desktop

Below are some of the new features that users can expect with the release of Ubuntu 21.04.

1. Updated Packages

Linux Kernel

Ubuntu 21.04 will include Linux kernel 5.11, which brags support for Wi-Fi 6E, RISC-V Improvements, Intel Iris Xe GPU Support, Enhanced AMD Zen 2/Zen3 CPU Performance and much more features.

Development languages/Toolchain Upgrades

With Ubuntu 21.04 release, some pre-installed toolchains like Python, Perl, Ruby, and PHP have received some upgrades. One of the most notable is Python 3.9, which comes installed by default.

Security Improvements

To ensure system security, Ubuntu 21.04 uses nftables as the default backend firewall. It is responsible for the classification and filtration of network packets.

Amazing updates for Ubuntu Desktop

  • Ubuntu 21.04 provides additional support for smartcard authentication, thus enhancing system security. That is made possible by the use of the PAM module for SSSD (pam_sss).
  • Of all Ubuntu releases, Ubuntu 21.04 makes use of the Wayland graphical server by default, featuring much more security and enhanced system performance. However, this doesn’t mean Xorg is discontinued. It is also available and will be used on systems running NVIDIA graphics before Wayland is fully integrated for Ubuntu 22.04 LTS release.
  • Ubuntu 21.04 supports drag and drop functionality between software applications and the desktop view.
  • With Ubuntu 21.04 release, you can now configure power profile mode from the Settings window. However, this is dependent on proper kernel support.
  • With Ubuntu 21.04 release, the Home folder/directory is made private. Therefore, if you create a new user on the system, they won’t access or view the contents of the other user’s home folder unless authorized to do so.
  • To ensure better audio for sandboxed applications and restoration of working screen recording, Ubuntu 21.04 comes with added support for Pipewire.
  • Ubuntu 21.04 release supports the use of the recovery key.

GNOME

By default, the GNOME shell present on Ubuntu 21.04 release features a dark theme. That is, however, different with apps and software that support the light GTK theme with dark header bars.

Ubuntu 21.04 Dark Theme
Ubuntu 21.04 Dark Theme

2. Updated applications and software

  • LibreOffice version 7.1
  • Firefox Browser version 87
  • Thunderbird version 78.8.1

3. Updated Subsystems

  • PulseAudio 14
  • BlueZ 5.56
  • NetworkManager 1.30

4. Ubuntu Server

One of the most notable changes on Ubuntu Server 21.04 is the removal of the nginx lua module. That is because, as seen in bug 1893753, the latest upstream version of this module no longer works with Nginx directly.

5. Raspberry Pi

Ubuntu 21.04 comes with quite some updates for the popular small board computer – Raspberry Pi. They include:

  • Added support for GPIO via libgpiod.
  • Added support for WiFi and Bluetooth modules on the compute module 4.
  • An additional fix for the corrupt OpenGL applications. However, for this, users will need to do it manually by executing the command below:
gsettings set org.gnome.mutter experimental-features "['kms-modifiers']"

Conclusion

I believe this article has highlighted some of the cool features you can expect with the Ubuntu 21.04 release. We will update this post as more features are revealed or in case any last-minute changes occur. You can also visit the Hirsute Hippo Release Notes page and see more about the new features or report any bugs you might find with this new release. In case there is a feature we didn’t highlight, please hit the comments below.

Arun Kumar
Arun did his bachelor in computer engineering and loves enjoying his spare time writing for FOSS Linux. He uses Fedora as the daily driver and loves tinkering with interesting distros on VirtualBox. He works during the day and reads anything tech at night. Apart from blogging, he loves swimming and playing tennis.

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