The last LTS before a Canonical float in 2023?
Canonical has finally pushed "go" on Ubuntu 22.04 LTS, making the Linux distribution generally available and a handy update for careful users still running 20.04 LTS.
Ubuntu's last Long Term Support (LTS) edition was 2020's Focal Fossa (20.04), which will stay on standard support until April 2025 and eventually shuffle past End of Life in April 2030. Two years on and Jammy Jellyfish has arrived, bringing with it plenty of visual improvements as well as tweaks under the hood.
Cosmetically, the default desktop wallpaper reflects the latest witty Ubuntu product name and the product's new logo is present and correct. However, those upgrading from 20.04 LTS will find a number of changes to the environment; as well as accent colors that are easier to set and inevitable dark mode enhancements, the arrival of GNOME 42 (and its screenshotting improvements) have made for a slicker, if not revolutionary, desktop appearance.
Missing, however, is the new Flutter-based installer. During a briefing Oliver Smith, product manager for Ubuntu Desktop, said "the timing didn't quite work out for this release" and noted that while development has gone "really well," confidence levels were not high enough to put the code on something the company was going to have to support for five years. "We will be releasing a build of 22.04 that does feature the new installer for people to try out," he said.
But for the LTS edition, prudence ruled and "we played it a little bit safe."
The update also includes LTS support for the Raspberry Pi. While Pi support has existed since 20.10's Groovy Gorilla, desktop performance could charitably be described as leisurely. 22.04 LTS rattles along at a considerably better rate on the diminutive computer.
In response to a question from The Register, Smith attributed the improvements to GNOME optimizations, triple-buffering techniques ("a way of sort of queuing up frames to keep that the frame rate nice and high"), and changes in swapping.
One notable improvement is that the Ubuntu desktop can now be coaxed into life on hardware as lowly as the 2GB Pi, although in our experience the Raspberry Pi OS continues to be the performance champ on such kit. Still, having access to the Ubuntu environment over such a range of hardware is not to be sniffed at (and there is a certain pleasure to be had in seeing a software vendor actually reduce hardware requirements).
"With Ubuntu 22.04 LTS, the entire recent Raspberry Pi device portfolio is supported for the very first time, from the new Raspberry Pi Zero 2W to the Raspberry Pi 4", said Eben Upton, CEO of Raspberry Pi Trading.
At the other end of the hardware scale lies Azure, AWS, and Oracle. Canonical was keen to trumpet Ubuntu as "the only Linux distribution supporting Azure Confidential VMs" and highlighted optimized images for AWS Graviton. Bo English-Wiczling, senior director of Developer Relations at Oracle, said: "With Ubuntu 22.04 LTS on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, developers get a highly optimized operating system and kernel with excellent boot speed, security and stability."
As with the majority of updated Linux distributions, the software in the box has had a few updates, with newer versions of the likes of Python and OpenSSL. More significantly, the Linux kernel was bumped up to the 5.15 LTS release.
Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth praised the work the team had done on 22.04 LTS and said: "We are on track to float the business. I now am pretty confident that we will do that in 2023."
Canonical Group Limited declared $138 million in revenue for the year to December 31, 2020, and while he would not give a forecast for 2022, Shuttleworth did say: "We've topped $175 million in revenue last year."
Shuttleworth also noted the challenges of company growth in terms of staff and pointed to 110,000 job applications fielded by Canonical in 2021. One can but hope that all were not required to recall their high-school days. ®