A Sneak Peek at Ubuntu 23.04: What’s New in the Beta Release

Are you looking forward to Canonical's upcoming Ubuntu 23.04 'Lunar Lobster' release? Get a taste of what's to come with this beta preview.

Canonical, the company behind the popular Ubuntu operating system, is gearing up for the release of Ubuntu 23.04, codenamed ‘Lunar Lobster,’ scheduled for April 20. So, with the final release just around the corner, users eagerly await to see what new features and improvements will be included in the final release.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the upcoming Ubuntu 23.04 release based on our impressions of the just-released ‘Lunar Lobster’ Beta and explore some exciting new features and enhancements set to be included.

So, if you’re a Ubuntu fan or just curious about what this latest version has to offer, read on to discover more!

New Installer

The first significant change in the upcoming Ubuntu 23.04 is the installer, which has been completely redesigned. The new Ubuntu Desktop installer relies on Subiquity as a backend and Flutter, an open-source UI software development kit created by Google, for the UI.

Ubuntu 23.04 new Desktop installer.
Ubuntu 23.04 new Desktop installer.

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 upcoming 23.04 release.

To a large extent, these goals have been achieved, with the installer having a more modern look with a revamped slideshow, and overall the whole installation running smoothly and easily without any issues.

Ubuntu 23.04 new Desktop installer.
Ubuntu 23.04 new Desktop installer.

GNOME 44 Arrives in Ubuntu 23.04

The GNOME 44 desktop environment came out very recently, so Ubuntu 23.04 users will be among the first to benefit from the changes and improvements it provides. Let’s look now at the most significant ones, while for a comprehensive list of all of them, check out our comprehensive review.

Ubuntu 23.04 running GNOME 44 desktop environment.
Ubuntu 23.04 running GNOME 44 desktop environment.

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 will 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.

Click on the toggle icon at the top right to switch from the list view to the new grid view.

Thumbnail View in File Picker.
Thumbnail View in File Picker

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.

Expandable Folders in File Manager.
Expandable Folders in File Manager.

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.

Accessibility settings.
Accessibility settings.

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.

Sound settings.
Sound settings.

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 menu will be available in Ubuntu 23.04. 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).

Ubuntu 23.04 Quick Menu.
Ubuntu 23.04 Quick Settings menu.

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 format, an alternative to the widely popular Flatpak, is a universal package format designed by Canonical to make distributing software on Linux systems easier.

However, although Snap does not enjoy good continuity in the Linux community and has, in practice, mainly remained for use only in Ubuntu, Canonical is not abandoning its use, and the upcoming Ubuntu 23.04 ‘Lunar Lobster’ will rely 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.

New Kernel Version

For seamless operation, Ubuntu 23.04 ‘Lunar Lobster’ will rely on the most up-to-date Linux kernel 6.2, Mesa 23.0, and systemd 252.5.

Ubuntu 23.04 running Linux kernel 6.2.
Ubuntu 23.04 running Linux kernel 6.2.

On the apps side, users will also find in the default installation:

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. After Canonical announced a contest on January 10 to design one for the upcoming 23.04 ‘Lunar Lobster’ release, the winner was recently picked. You can see it in the image below.

Ubuntu 23.04 'Lunar Lobster' default wallpaper.
Ubuntu 23.04 ‘Lunar Lobster’ default wallpaper.


Intermediate 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 provide a decent indication of what we can expect from them.

The upcoming Ubuntu 23.04 ‘Lunar Lobster’ release, scheduled for April 20, introduces numerous new features, the most notable of which are the new Ubuntu Desktop installer, GNOME 44 implementation, and increased focus on Snap apps.

Overall, we did not encounter any serious issues with this beta version of the operating system during our testing; thus, the final release is expected to meet all user expectations. However, if you’re eager and want to try it out immediately, you can get the Ubuntu 23.04 Beta here.

Bobby Borisov

Bobby Borisov

Bobby, an editor-in-chief at Linuxiac, is a Linux professional with over 20 years of experience. With a strong focus on Linux and open-source software, he has worked as a Senior Linux System Administrator, Software Developer, and DevOps Engineer for small and large multinational companies.

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