Ready for Bionic Beaver? What's New in Ubuntu 18.04

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Ready for Bionic Beaver? What's New in Ubuntu 18.04

This week brought the release of the latest version of Ubuntu - 18.04 - so read up on the details about the newest LTS release.

· DevOps Zone ·
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A couple of weeks ago I wrote a piece about how desktop Linux may be the only remaining "proper" desktop OS. The article proved popular and sparked some conversation around the topic in comments and social media surrounding it. With perfect timing, this week saw the release of the latest version of Ubuntu 18.04, and I joined two press calls to hear more details about this new LTS release of one of the most popular Linux distributions.

On the Desktop

Fittingly, the call kicked off with reiterating a commitment to Ubuntu desktop after years of experiments that ultimately failed. This step meant the abandonment of a handful of custom technologies and a switch back to more widely adopted open source projects such as Gnome Shell, perhaps providing a much-needed resource injection to these projects. Later in the call, there was a slight dig at some other hardware and software vendors, and the "artificial limits" they impose on users. Being free, Ubuntu lets you take things as far as you want.

Version 18.04, or "Bionic Beaver" (that’s quite a name) has a handful of interesting new features that reflect trends in the operating system world more widely:

Gnome Shell and Windowing Managers

Conscious of the disruption a major UI change can cause to users, 18.04 sets up Gnome Shell with default settings that are remnants of the Unity UI, such as keeping the application launcher on the left and retaining themes and colors.

After testing the Wayland in 17.10, the team found that while it’s increasingly stable, and is miles ahead of X.org in many ways, there were key issues (mostly related to screensharing) that resulted in a switch back to X.org for 18.04, upcoming releases will revert that change. Of course, being Linux, Wayland is still maintained and available if you want to use it instead.

A new community-contributed theme is also available, search for Communitheme (working title) in the snap store.

Live Updates

The new Canonical Livepatch Service lets you apply critical kernel security fixes without rebooting and reduces planned or unplanned downtime while maintaining security. It’s available as part of an Ubuntu Advantage subscription, or for all Ubuntu community members, it’s free for up to three machines. This feature keeps machines as up to date as possible with minimal effort and involvement.


I wrote before about Canonical’s snap concept and efforts, and if the constant flurry of emails I receive from their PR team is anything to go buy, Canonical is working hard to grow the selection of applications. This selection now includes open and closed source applications, which will upset some members of the Linux community, but to be blunt, it’s a good strategy to bring users to Linux who may switch to open alternatives once they are comfortable with the platform.

Whether you like the concept or not, Canonical announced that the Snap store has seen over 1 million installs in the past 3 months alone, and the snap store is available for other Linux distributions.

Data Metrics

Always a controversial topic in the Linux community, but Canonical is insistent that tracking useful anonymous information about how people use Ubuntu and what hardware they use is important for them, and for developers creating applications for Ubuntu.

Ubuntu on Other Devices

As nice as some of these features are, Ubuntu’s primary user base is not on the desktop, but on a variety of other platforms (the majority of cloud providers use Ubuntu), so what does 18.04 offer for them? For developers, one of the significant advantages of using Ubuntu is common packages from development to these other platforms, ‘guaranteeing’ that they work.

Performance Optimization

Without giving much detail, Canonical has worked with all the cloud providers to roll-out optimized versions to their customers. Noting that with hybrid clouds the new normal, they improved inter-cloud communication and faster boot times for "bursty" applications and services. For an ultimate performance tweak, all 18.04 cloud images, OpenStack and Kubernetes distributions include support for hardware acceleration with NVIDIA GPUs. The OpenStack distribution also includes support for NFV and NVIDIA Tesla GPUs among others.

Adding to Intel and ARM architecture support, 18.04 also adds support for Power9 architectures suited to machine learning workloads.

Containers and Kubernetes

Nearly everyone is dipping their toes into Kubernetes, and Canonical optimized their own (mostly vanilla) blend for Google Cloud and specifically with AI and analytics tooling built-in. At a container level, Ubuntu 18.04 continues to have Docker and LXD support by default. If you’re not familiar with LXD, version 3.0 contains interesting new features, especially for those who need to maintain and manage outdated and insecure images without them affecting daily operations.

Like what you see? Read more and download 18.04.

bare metal, cloud, devops, gnome, hybrid cloud, kubernetes, linux, snaps, ubuntu

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