Ubuntu 21.04 “Hirsute Hippo” is officially out now. The latest version has a new default display server, native support for Microsoft Active Directory domains, and updated theme.
Ubuntu 21.04 is a regular short term release that will be supported for nine months. It will only receive updates until January 2022. Ubuntu usually uses regular releases to introduce new developments that it hopes to stabilize by the time the next long term release (LTS) rolls around.
Above all, Ubuntu 21.04 biggest change is a change from Xorg display server to Wayland. The developers at Canonical say this will bring smoother graphics, better support for fractional scaling on displays with high pixel density, and improved security. Although Wayland is set to default, be cautious that things might breaks, especially if you have Nvidia hardware. Ubuntu tried using Wayland by default back with Ubuntu 17.10, before reverting to Xorg for subsequent releases.
By switching to Wayland now, Canonical can work out any issues by the time of the next long-term support Ubuntu release.
While the release doesn’t offer much to the average desktop user, enterprise customers can cheer the native integration for Microsoft Active Directory. With it Ubuntu 21.04 allows Active Directory administrators to configure Ubuntu system settings from an Active Directory domain controller. And while Microsoft Active Directory support isn’t going to be a big selling point for home users, it is a top priority for Ubuntu’s enterprise customers.
Few UI changes also land in this release. For sure the most noticeable is that Ubuntu 21.04 does introduce an improved dark version of the Yaru theme for its desktop. This release defaults to a dark theme by default, but it isn’t global. It is selectively applied to some desktop elements. For example, the calendar in the notification area is now having the dark mode set by default.
Other improvements in Ubuntu 21.04 “Hirsute Hippo”
Files on the desktop are back. If you want to drop a file on the desktop, you can. This functionality was removed in GNOME 3.28.
The home directory is now private by default, with the permissions changing from 755 to 750. That means the home directory is not world-readable anymore.
Ubuntu 21.04 features the older GNOME 3.38 and not the revamped GNOME 40. But you will find the default applications updated to GNOME 40. In other words, the GNOME 40 apps have been made compatible with GNOME 3.38 for this release and with the next release should make the transition to GNOME 40 without any breakdowns.
Of course, the packages have been updated to the latest as well along with the inclusion of Linux Kernel 5.11. You can find more details in Hirsute Hippo Release Notes.
Download / Upgrade
Ubuntu 21.04 is available from the downloads page today. If you already use Ubuntu and want to upgrade:
- Open the Software & Updates app.
- Go to the Updates tab and select “For any new version” on the “Notify me of a new Ubuntu version” section.
- You will be prompted to enter your password.
- Open the Software Updater and you should see the option to upgrade to Ubuntu 21.04.