What’s New In Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) | 12 Biggest Changes

26th April was a big day for open-source OS lovers: Ubuntu released its 18.04 long term support (LTC) version, dubbed Bionic Beaver. It will be supported for next 5 years.

This is a big change after Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. You won’t see any major changes if you’re already using Ubuntu 17.10. The new version focuses on improving the updates introduced in Ubuntu 17.10.

The release was delayed for some time due to a bug, but now it has been fixed, and Ubuntu 18.04 files are available for download. Before you install the new update, here’s the quick heads up on the biggest changes made in Bionic Beaver.

1. New Linux Kernel

Ubuntu comes with a new Linux kernel 4.15 that enables the new hardware and peripherals available from Intel, IBM, and others. Now Ubuntu delivers the latest MD driver with RAID improvements, CPU controller for group 2 interface, enhanced power management for SATA, and support for secure memory encryption in AMD.

2. GNOME 3.28

If you have not tried Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark), this version is going to be the whole new experience for you. All GNOME apps are updated to version 3.28, which includes personal organization improvements, new media and entertainment features, beautiful on-screen keyboard, boxes features and much more.

3. Color Emoji

So far, emoji has been inconsistent and appeared black & white in most of the applications. Now, the Ubuntu desktop is packed with a complete set of color emojis. It’s using Noto Color Emoji font developed by Google.

You can either use Ctrl+; or Ctrl+. to open the emoji panel. However, if you don’t like it, you can uninstall the package.

4. Back to Xorg

In version 17.10, Ubuntu developers switched to the Wayland display server. Although the Xorg was still there, it wasn’t set as default. Now they have reverted the changes – Like 16.04 LTS, Ubuntu 18.04 has Xorg display server by default, or you can select Wayland, which is now available as an option.

The reason behind going back to Xorg is Wayland was causing some compatibility issues. For instance, NVIDIA drivers do not support Wayland, thus for better 3D performance, you will need Xorg. Also, Skype, Hangout, and remote desktop utilities like VNC and RDP work well with Xorg.

Currently, developers are working to fix the issues with Wayland. Hopefully, it will return as a default display server in next big Ubuntu release (20.04 LTS).

5. New Installer

Canonical refreshes the Ubuntu servers’s command line installer. The new installer, named Subiquity, brings the new look, speedy install and the comfortable live session of Ubuntu Desktop to server users.

6. A New Option For Lightweight Installation

Ubuntu 18.04 has a “minimal installation” option that installs only web browser and basic utilities. If you’ve installed your OS using this option, you can still manually install other programs like media players, games and office softwares. This lightweight installation option will save 400 MB of your hard disk space.

7. Apply Kernel Patches Without Rebooting

Ubuntu now offers a Canonical Livepatch service that allows you to apply important kernel patches without restarting your system. This could be very useful for Linux severs hosting time-critical applications, where users can’t afford any downtime.

It’s supported on desktop PCs and you can enable it graphically. Since Canonical is planning to sell this service, you can enable this feature on only 3 PCs with a single Ubuntu One account.

8. Software Upgrades

Like any other OS update, most of the Ubuntu software has also been upgraded, including LibreOffice 6.0, To Do app which is now installed by default and Calendar app that supports weather forecasts.

System running on battery will be automatically suspended if it sees no response within 20 minutes. And to make printing process easier, developers have added driverless printing support.

The gcc compiler now complies each application as position independent executables, protecting against several exploits. Also, the OS has been upgraded to protect your data against Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities.

9. OpenJDK 10

In Ubuntu 18.04, OpenJDK 10 is the default JDK/JRE. In September 2018, this will be replaced by OpenJDK 11. Moreover, OpenJDK 8 will be still available for custom script and applications that cannot be developed with version 10 or 11.

10. No More 32-bit ISOs

Ubuntu 18.04 LTS doesn’t offer 32-bit ISO images. However, it still consists of 32-bit software, and if your old PC doesn’t support 64-bit OS, you can install Ubuntu MATE 18.04 (uses MATE desktop) or Xubuntu 18.04 (uses Xfce desktop).

11. Network Improvements

Ubuntu 18.04 uses systemd-resolved as a default DNS resolver, and NetworkManager now comes with teaming support with libteam.

netplan.io has replaced ifupdown, which is no longer available in new installs. The installer will create a netplan.io configuration file in the /etc/netplan directory. This configuration will render backend configurations through NetworkManager or systemd-networkd.

Source: Ubuntu 18.04 Release Notes

12. Ubuntu Collects More Data

Ubuntu now takes more information about your computer. You will be prompted to send your system data to Canonical, right after you install the OS. It will collect data like

  • Ubuntu version you have installed
  • Manufacturer of your computer and processor model
  • Time Zone and desktop environment you installed.

These information will be available to all, so that anyone can see how many people are actually using Ubuntu on what hardware/software. Moreover, it’s developed to automatically send error reports and share the package you’ve installed with ‘popularity contest’ tool. However, if you don’t want to share your data, you can disable this feature.

Read: What’s Different In Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark)

13. Other Changes

  • GNOME shell supports Thunderbolt 3.
  • The old Character Map has been replaced by Characters app.
  • New Calendar has a week view and supports recurring events.
  • Most of the GNOME apps now come with a keyboard shortcuts popup available in app menu.
  • Software apps now allow you to easily switch between different channels for Snap applications.
Written by
Varun Kumar

Varun Kumar is a professional science and technology journalist and a big fan of AI, machines, and space exploration. He received a Master's degree in computer science from Indraprastha University. To find out about his latest projects, feel free to directly email him at [email protected] 

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