Canonical releases a new version of the popular Ubuntu operating system every six months. Quite frankly, most of those updates are kind of boring, with incremental changes from one build to the next. But Ubuntu 17.10 launches on October 19th, and it’s actually kind of a big deal.

Ubuntu has a new default desktop manager, display server, and a whole bunch of more modest updates. It’s also going to be a bit more work to install the operating system on computers with 32-bit processors.

After giving up on the idea of building a single operating system that can run on PCs and mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, Canonical ditched its multi-year effort to develop its own desktop environment and display server. Unity and Mir are gone, and Ubuntu 17.10 will ship with the GNOME 3.26 desktop environment and Wayland display server.

On the one hand, that makes Ubuntu a bit more like a whole bunch of other GNU/Linux operating systems. But Canonical still puts a lot of work into developing a custom user interface and some of its own applications for the OS. So while Ubuntu 17.10 includes a bunch of GNOME applications, it also has some GNOME Shell extensions including an Ubuntu Dock and theme.

If you’re upgrading from Ubuntu 17.04 or Ubuntu 16.04, you’ll boot into the GNOME desktop environment upon completion of the upgrade process… but Canonical won’t delete Unity. So if you’d rather continue to use the Unity environment you can do that… but it won’t receive much support moving forward.

Another thing that’s not getting a lot of support anymore is Ubuntu for 32-bit systems. Starting with Ubuntu 17.10, Canonical will no longer offer 32-bit disk images for download.

The company isn’t dropping 32-bit support. If you’re already running a 32-bit build of Ubuntu, you can still upgrade to the latest version. And you can still use a Netinst or MinimalCD image to load Ubuntu onto a computer with an older CPU.

Some of the other changes in Ubuntu 17.10 are a bit less dramatic. The close, minimize, and maximize buttons will now show up on the right side of application windows by default. The operating system ships with the Linux kernel 4.13 and updated versions of a bunch of applications and packages. Oh, and it has a new default wallpaper to go with the operating system’s codename: Artful Aardvark.



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15 replies on “Ubuntu 17.10 brings the biggest changes in years”

  1. Xfce. That’s the ticket.
    I’m just gonna wait for the next LTS next Spring though.

    1. What are you talking about? Gnome is as refined as Unity was. The new Ubuntu release is as polished as ever. In fact it is more polished because bluetooth functionality has improved.

  2. Yes, I thought Ubuntu 17.10 was supposed to have pretty much a stock version of GNOME desktop. Nowhere near. As always, another fuck up. Should have continued on their path and Ubuntu GNOME be its own flavor. The whole thing is a mess. I dont like the icon theme and the dock sucks with no settings. I will probably switch back to Fedora.

    1. They’re done a lot of work to make it easy to switch to stock Gnome even though the default session is also Gnome. Just install the package “gnome-session”. (I prefer and used Ubuntu MATE FWIW.)

    2. They made the default desktop look like the Unity desktop so it wouldn’t be as jarring to users like it was when they switched from Gnome to Unity. People who know enough about Linux to have an opinion as to which desktop environment they prefer shouldn’t have any trouble customizing the desktop to their liking. The default desktop is setup for the non-power users, the users who have probably been using Unity all this time.

  3. I’ve never been a huge fan of Ubuntu. I prefer the look and feel of Mint. Recently installed Arch Antergos XFCE and am very happy with it. I feel like Canonical is taking the wrong path with Ubuntu lately so will probably never go back to it.

  4. Gnome Rules! Lots of Linux users were alienated by Unity when Ubuntu 12 came out. Ubuntu dropped from #1 most popular Linux distro then, to fourth place today. Ubuntu 12 convinced me to switch to Linux Mint. Linux Mint with the MATE and Cinnamon alternative interfaces went on to become the #1 most popular Linux Distro, thanks to Unity. Maybe switching back to Gnome will help Ubuntu gain back some of it’s lost market share.

  5. MIR is NOT dead!
    They are still developing it and is included with Ubuntu

    Alan Griffiths:
    “Mir 0.28
    We are pleased to announce that Mir 0.28 has been released and is available in Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful).
    As the content (and even the name) of this release has changed over the time we’ve been working towards it now is probably a good time to reflect on what it is, and what it isn’t after all.”

    http://voices.canonical.com/alan.griffiths/author/alan-griffiths/

  6. Also check at sourceforge.net/projects/unity7sl/
    You’d be surprised at what you’d see there.

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