The new installer, GNOME 44, and more Snap apps by default are among the highlights of the latest Ubuntu 23.04 ‘Lunar Lobster’ release.
Ubuntu 23.04 ‘Lunar Lobster’ has just hit the streets, and it is packed with a plethora of new features and improvements that are sure to delight Ubuntu enthusiasts and Linux users alike.
It is an interim release of Ubuntu, but if you are now entering the Ubuntu world, we will briefly explain.
Interim releases are the builds released every six months between Ubuntu’s LTS versions, which are released every two years in April. The most recent LTS one is 22.04 ‘Jammy Jellyfish.’ Since then, 22.10 ‘Kinetic Kudu’ was the first interim release.
Today, the highly anticipated Ubuntu 23.04, codenamed ‘Lunar Lobster,’ has been released as the second interim release after 22.04, so let’s see what’s new.
Ubuntu 23.04 ‘Lunar Lobster’ Highlights
Although Ubuntu 23.04 is an interim release so it will receive only nine months of support, it has enough new features to convince some to leave their LTS for a while and give it a shot. Here’s what it’s all about.
The first significant change which makes an immediate impression in Ubuntu 23.04 ‘Lunar Lobster’ is the installer, which has been completely redesigned. The new one relies on Subiquity as a backend and Flutter, an open-source UI software development kit created by Google, for the UI.
The new installer was initially scheduled to ship with Ubuntu 22.04 LTS ‘Jammy Jellyfish.’ Still, because Canonical wanted to ensure that it excelled at the present one, Ubiquity, in terms of features and stability, it has been delayed for the ‘Lunar Lobster’ release.
These goals have been achieved to a large extent, with the installer having a more modern and polished look with a revamped slideshow. Moreover, the whole installation ran smoothly and quickly without any issues.
The GNOME 44 desktop environment came out recently, and Ubuntu 23.04 users can now benefit from the changes and improvements it provides. So let’s look at the most significant ones.
File Picker Thumbnail View
The File Picker is a graphical user interface (GUI) element that allows users to view and select files from their system. It is commonly used in open/save dialogs, which are used to select files for various applications such as text editors, image editors, or document viewers.
Until now, the only choice provided was list view, which forced users to rely solely on the file name as a guide when picking a file. Fortunately, ‘Lunar Lobster’ users can now benefit from the new Thumbnail View feature in Ubuntu 23.04. It significantly simplifies the entire process by allowing users to easily and quickly browse entirely visually to the file they need.
To use this new feature, click the toggle icon at the top right to switch from the list view to the new grid view.
Expandable Folders in File Manager
The expandable folders in list view were a feature that GNOME lost when transitioning to GTK4. However, it is now available again, making it much easier for Ubuntu 23.04 users to explore directories when they are deeply nested.
Keep in mind that this option is not enabled by default. So, you must go into the File application’s “Preferences” and enable the “Expandable Folders in List View” option to use it.
Ubuntu 23.04 Settings Panel Improvements
The System Settings Panel, the central place to configure your Ubuntu system, will impress users the most with the number of changes it has received in Ubuntu 23.04.
For example, the accessibility settings have been revised, providing a more modern navigation experience. In addition, the different setting areas have been divided to make them easier to explore. Individual settings have also been improved to be clearer and more consistent.
The Mouse & Touchpad section has also been reworked, offering better feature explanations through animations. In addition, there is a new Mouse Acceleration setting and tick marks in the different sliders.
At the same time, the sound settings have undergone some changes. For example, the volume level control has been relocated to a separate window, making it easier to access the input and output controls used more often.
Users can also disable the alert sound and browse available sounds using a new alert sound window. Lastly, the sound test window has been redesigned with a more modern interface.
In conclusion, we will only add that thanks to GNOME 44, Ubuntu 23.04 users will be able to quickly and easily check the currently used Linux kernel version directly from the “About” tab in the Settings Panel.
Quick Settings Changes
All changes coming with GNOME 44 to the Quick Settings are also available in the ‘Lunar Lobster’ release. Unfortunately, we’ll start with the most controversial – background app monitoring, or in other words, the ability to stop desktop applications from running in the background (those running without an open window).
You can read all about it and our thoughts in our dedicated article. However, because this feature is currently limited only to Flatpak apps, which are not included by default in Ubuntu, its presence will not provide any advantage to Ubuntu users.
At the same time, a far more useful feature, such as Bluetooth quick settings button, will please the ‘Lunar Lobster’ users. It displays which devices are connected and allows them to be quickly and conveniently connected and disconnected.
More Snap Apps by Default in Ubuntu 23.04
Ubuntu’s Snap, an alternative to the widely popular Flatpak, is a universal package format designed by Canonical to simplify distributing software on Linux systems.
However, although Snap does not enjoy good continuity in the Linux community and has, in practice, mainly for use only in Ubuntu, Canonical is not abandoning its use, and even on the contrary, Ubuntu 23.04 ‘Lunar Lobster’ relies on it even more heavily.
In addition to the Firefox browser, now only available as a Snap package, Ubuntu 23.04 includes a host of widely used apps such as Telegram, Steam, Spotify, Slack, and others available for installation as Snap.
Given Canonical’s recent decision not to include Flatpak by default not just in its flagship OS but also in all official Ubuntu flavors, the chasm between Ubuntu and the rest of the Linux world is expected to deepen even further.
Ubuntu 23.04 ‘Lunar Lobster’ for seamless operation relies on the most up-to-date Linux kernel 6.2, Mesa 23.0.2, and systemd 252.5.
On the apps side, users will also find in the default installation:
- Firefox 111 Web Browser
- Thunderbird 102.10 Mail Client
- LibreOffice 7.5.2 Office Suite
- Transmission 3.0 Bit-torrent Client
- Shotwell 0.30.17 Photo Manager
- Remmina 1.4.29 Remote Desktop Client
New Default Wallpaper
Although not among the most important things, the wallpaper that comes with any Ubuntu release greatly influences the look and feel of the operating system. So, you can see the default 23.04 ‘Lunar Lobster’ wallpaper in the image below.
In addition, if you’re curious to see all the entries that participated in the contest announced by Canonical to choose wallpapers for the ‘Lobster’ release, you can check them out here.
New Cinnamon Flavor
Starting with the Ubuntu 23.04 release, Ubuntu Cinnamon debuted with its first release as an official member of the Ubuntu family.
However, be aware that Ubuntu Cinnamon users don’t get any of the tools characteristic and distinctive of Mint’s Cinnamon implementation. Instead, they have been replaced with Ubuntu-specific ones, as Yaru is the default GTK and icon theme. Overall, it feels a bit strange.
But if you are a die-hard Ubuntu fan, we strongly advise you to try the new Cinnamon flavor. It could be the desktop you’ve been looking for.
Besides the main Ubuntu and the new Cinnamon flavor releases, all the other official Ubuntu flavors have also updated their versions to 23.03.
That includes Kubuntu 23.04, Xubuntu 23.04, Ubuntu MATE 23.04, Lubuntu 23.04, Ubuntu Unity 23.04, Ubuntu Studio 23.04, Ubuntu Budgie 23.04, Ubuntu Kylin 23.04, and Edubuntu 23.04, which also debuted as an official Ubuntu flavor.
So if you prefer to use a desktop other than the modified GNOME version shipped with Ubuntu, try them.
Interim Ubuntu versions other than the LTS ones generate less widespread interest than the LTS releases. This is mainly due to their relatively short 9-month support period.
However, they are important because they serve as a testing ground for future Ubuntu LTS releases and indicate what we can expect from them.
Ubuntu 23.04 ‘Lunar Lobster’ introduces numerous new features, the most notable of which are:
- The latest Ubuntu Desktop installer
- GNOME 44 implementation
- Cinnamon’s official flavor
- Increased focus on Snap apps
So, we believe the release is worth your attention, and if you want to try it, you can download the installation ISO images from Ubuntu’s website.
You can visit the release notes for more detailed information on all the new features.