Ubuntu is a popular choice for both new and seasoned Linux users and with Ubuntu 21.10 we see a new shell, Gnome 40, which starts up with a new Activities view rather than a blank desktop. The favorites bar is now at the bottom of the screen, and looks more like a Mac OS dock than ever. The app launcher slides in from the left of the screen (but this can be tweaked), with the workspaces – virtual desktops – turned into thumbnails while you’re using it. Rounded corners are also noticeable on windows, Gnome apps, and the workspace switcher.
Workspaces themselves have moved from a vertical to a horizontal design, and there are new touchpad gestures and keyboard shortcuts for navigating them. Security is enhanced by a clever new randomisation of the kernel stack in memory at each system-call entry on both the amd64 and arm64 architectures with, it is claimed, a minimal impact on performance. Kernel Electric Fence, a runtime memory error detector, is also supported.
Elsewhere, there are plenty of tweaks that make this look like a release targeted at developers. There’s immediate compatibility with Windows Subsystem for Linux, while PHP gets an update to version 8, and the GNU Compiler Collection moves to version 11, with front-ends for C and C++ among other languages.
If AI or machine learning are your thing, you’ll appreciate the new snap package of Apache Cassandra. Speaking of snaps, there’s one for Firefox too, for both the latest and the extended support release versions of the browser.
Impish isn’t a Long Term Support version of the OS, but the final interim release before the next LTS, due in April 2022. An image for Ubuntu 21.10 is available on the Docker Hub and Amazon ECR Public Registry. Or you could just download it from Ubuntu.com, or update your current installation.