April 22, 2016


Like clockwork, Canonical released it’s latest version of the Ubuntu operating system for Linux this month, Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, code named Xenial Xerus. The LTS stands for Long Term Service, which means that Canonical will support this version for 5 years, rather than the 9 months that it supports its non-LTS releases.

One of the more interesting changes in this Ubuntu 16.04 is the Snap application format. Ubuntu will still use traditional deb packages and the snaps, as they are calling them, will coexist together. Some of the features of this new packaging system is its security and ease of use for package developers. Also, Snap offers a more robust and reliable iteration of packages across different Ubuntu flavors in that a user can install an application via Snap and not worry that it will interfere with other applications on the system.

Less glamorous updates include updated versions of the Linux kernel 4.4, Apt 1.2, Python 3, Golang 1.6, OpenSSH 7.2p2 and the GNU toolchain.

The desktop in Ubuntu 16.04 will have various bug fixes and quality of life improvements. Most notably, GNOME has been updated to 3.18 and LibreOffice to 5.1. The old Ubuntu Software Center has been replaced by GNOME Software, which should provide an upgraded store experience.

One of the few complaints about the newest version of Ubuntu is that it does not come with the most recent version of Unity 8, which works toward integrating the user experiences between desktop and mobile platforms. The package will be available to upgrade, but does not come as part of the supported 16.04 system.

There are, as is the case with all software releases, known bugs in Ubuntu 16.04. For example, menus in the Gtk application sometimes disappear or dependencies of removed apps remain installed. These bugs are being worked on. The fglrx graphics drivers for AMD GPUs have been removed. Users should use the new open source radeon and amdgpu drivers. The Ubuntu forums are a great repository of information and help if you run into problems.

Over all, it seems like Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, Xenial Xerus, is a strong improvement for the Ubuntu operating system. You will be able to upgrade a previous LTS version to 16.04 in 3 months time, but if you want Xenial Xerus now, you can download the image from the Ubuntu.