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Ubuntu 21.04 is here, but don't get too excited

Ubuntu
(Image credit: Future)

Right on cue, the latest release of popular Linux distro Ubuntu, dubbed the Hirsute Hippo, has hit the download mirrors.

Ubuntu 21.04 is a regular short term release that will be supported for nine months. Ubuntu usually uses regular releases to introduce new developments that it hopes to stabilize by the time the next long term release (LTS) rolls around. 

Yet, despite the usual slew of updates, this particular release is rather light on show-stopping features. Desktop users will in fact have to look under the covers to find the only noteworthy feature change in the release; the switch to the Wayland display server.

Ubuntu tried using Wayland by default back with Ubuntu 17.10, before reverting to Xorg for subsequent releases.

Ubuntu 21.04, with added Microsoft

Ubuntu 21.04 is also notably missing the recently launched GNOME 40 desktop environment, which brings in new workflows and a move to the GTK4 toolkit. Instead, Hirsute Hippo will ship with Gnome 3.38 as it waits for the larger GNOME ecosystem to migrate to GTK4.

Another behind the scenes highlight of the release is a fix for a long-standing security issue that was first reported over a decade ago, back in 2006. 

While the release doesn’t offer much to the average desktop user, enterprise customers can cheer the native integration for Microsoft Active Directory. 

In a release put out by Canonical, the company that sponsors the development of Ubuntu, it highlights its joint efforts with Microsoft to optimize Ubuntu for running Microsoft SQL Server.

“Native Active Directory integration and certified Microsoft SQL Server on Ubuntu are top priorities for our enterprise customers,” remarked Mark Shuttleworth, CEO of Canonical.