Ubuntu 23.10 shines with Linux Kernel 6.5 and GNOME 45, ensuring a minimal software load for a smooth and powerful user experience.
The Linux community is abuzz with excitement and for a good reason. Canonical launched its latest offering, Ubuntu 23.10, christened “Mantic Minotaur.”
As with every Ubuntu release, expectations were sky-high, and this version does not disappoint. Let’s investigate the highlights and see what’s new in this much-anticipated release.
Ubuntu 23.10: What’s New?
Staying true to Ubuntu’s tradition of alliterative naming, “Mantic Minotaur” follows its predecessor in the lineup. The name evokes a sense of power and mystery, setting the tone for the features and enhancements within.
A New Flutter-Based Installer
The installation process of an OS is often the first point of contact for users, setting the tone for their overall experience. Recognizing this, Ubuntu has consistently strived to make its installer more intuitive and efficient.
The decision to use Flutter, an open-source UI software development toolkit for the new Ubuntu installer, was driven by a desire to create a more modern, attractive, and efficient user interface.
It minimizes visual clutter while offering picking a dark or light theme from the installer, a refactored keyboard selection screen, the ability to deal with Windows’ default BitLocker encryption, etc.
TPM-Backed Full Disk Encryption & ZFS Support
For the past 15 years, Ubuntu’s solution to full disk encryption has relied on the well-known Linux Unified Key Setup (LUKS), with users authenticated via passphrases.
However, Ubuntu 23.10 changed this, introducing a new experimental feature, full disk encryption (FDE), using trusted platform modules (TPMs) included in the installer. More on the topic here.
But what are its advantages over LUKS? Let me explain. To use LUKS encryption, you must input a passphrase that you created during the installation of the OS and use it as a key to decrypt the contents of your drive on every boot by entering it manually.
The TPM approach completely changes this. The passphrases will no longer be needed, and the secret used to decrypt the encrypted data will be protected by a TPM and recovered automatically only by early boot software authorized to access the data.
Finally, Ubuntu 23.10 restores ZFS file-system support as an experimental feature. This brings a whole array of new features that users can use, such as data integrity, copy-on-write (CoW), snapshots, data deduplication, RAID-Z capabilities, dynamic striping, integrated volume management, etc.
A Fresh Look with GNOME 45
An OS’s visual appeal and user-friendliness are pivotal to user adoption and satisfaction.
In this regard, one of the most noticeable changes in Ubuntu 23.10 is its integration with GNOME 45. This latest desktop environment version introduces a slew of visual and functional enhancements.
For example, it brings new features like a redesigned and more functional Activities button, File Manager improvement on functionality and appearance, System Setting changes, updated core apps, Quick Settings button to control keyboard backlights, and many more.
A Minimalist Approach to Software
The philosophy of “less is more” is no stranger to the tech world. Ubuntu 23.10 embraces this ethos wholeheartedly, providing a minimal software load that ensures unnecessary applications and services do not bog down users.
So, look closely at the image below. What immediately strikes you? That’s correct. Aside from the typical OS management tools and the Firefox browser, Ubuntu 23.10 ships with no additional software installed on the client side.
This means that for the first time, users will not get the software in the default installation they have been used to for many years.
This includes an office suite, mail client, torrent client, etc. In other words, no more LibreOffice, Thunderbird, Transmission, Remmina, and so on preinstalled by default.
Of course, these are available to install from the Ubuntu repositories, with the LibreOffice version being 7.6 and Thunderbird bumped to the new “Supernova” 115.2 release, so users must take care of all this by installing them themself.
Whether this is the right approach for an operating system that relies primarily on making things as easy as possible for the user remains to be seen. But in any case, this approach provides a clutter-free environment, which we like.
Other Ubuntu 23.10 Highlights
At the heart of “Mantic Minotaur” beats the latest Linux Kernel 6.5. From enhancing system stability and performance to broader hardware support, it ensures that Ubuntu 23.10 stands tall in the face of varied user demands and workloads.
The redesigned Flutter-based App Center encourages using Snaps rather than conventional DEB files. However, this is largely expected, given that Snap is a Canonical development, and they are betting on it and its tight integration into Ubuntu.
On top of that, Ubuntu 23.10 brings improved support for tiling windows, thanks to GNOME’s “Tiling Assistant” extension, which comes preinstalled.
The toolchain upgrade includes GCC 13.2, Python now defaults to version 3.11.6 as 3.12.0 is available in the archive, Perl 5.36, LLVM now defaults to version 16, and 17 is available in the archive, Rust 1.71, OpenJDK 21, Go 1.21, etc.
Ubuntu 23.10 “Mantic Minotaur” marks yet another milestone in the continuous development and enhancement of one of the world’s most popular open-source operating systems.
From now on, all eyes are on next year, when Ubuntu 24.04 LTS will aggregate everything from the last two years to deliver the next long-term release, which is what home and business users rely on most.
However, Ubuntu 23.10, with its GNOME 45 integration, new installer, and redesigned software center, has laid a good foundation for it. So, do we recommend “Mantic Minotaur”? Yes, it is worth a try.