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The latest Ubuntu long-term support release arrived last month. Xenial Xerus, as it’s called, will receive security updates and bug fixes for the next five years. This makes it the ideal version for people who value a stable, predictable system.

Ubuntu’s desktop experience hasn’t changed all that much since the last LTS, version 14.04. But there are several key changes worth getting excited about for desktop and server users alike. Whether you’re upgrading for the first time in two years or moving up from 15.10, let’s have a look.

1. Dash No Longer Includes Amazon Searches

Since 12.10, Ubuntu has displayed Amazon results among other items in the Unity Dash. This meant that Unity sent all user searches to remote servers by default. This brought up privacy concerns, with Richard Stallman calling Ubuntu spyware. The Electronic Frontier Foundation also weighed in. Unsurprisingly, Ubuntu’s Mark Shuttleworth didn’t see things the same way.

UbuntuLTS-Amazon-Remove-Dash

Users can disable this functionality, something we have suggested as a way to make Ubuntu feel like home 12 Useful Tweaks To Make Ubuntu Feel Like Home 12 Useful Tweaks To Make Ubuntu Feel Like Home We'll show you some great tweaks that can go a long way to achieving desktop zen. Read More .

But in 16.04, Amazon searches are no longer enabled by default. When you fire up a new installation, your searches are now no one’s business but your own.

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People who want Amazon recommendations can re-enable them at System Settings > Security & Privacy > Search.

UbuntuLTS-Amazon-Enable

This is the way many people felt Canonical should have implemented the feature all along. Changing things could be taken as a concession, but it also frees the company up to focus more energy on Unity 8. That next version of Ubuntu’s user interface is set to make an appearance in Ubuntu 16.10.

2. Bye-Bye Ubuntu Software Center

UbuntuLTS-GNOME-Software

Canonical developed its own centralized app store in 2009. The Ubuntu Software Center hasn’t changed much since then. Well, not in a positive way. It has grown slower over time, frustrating many users.

Now the Ubuntu Software Center is gone. In its place we have GNOME Software. This package manager comes straight from the GNOME project, freeing Canonical to focus on other work.

For technical background, the Ubuntu Software Center was a front-end to APT/dpkg. GNOME Software uses PackageKit, which itself is a front-end to whichever package management system a distro uses. That’s why you also see it on RPM-based systems, like Fedora.

3. Always Show Application Menus

UbuntuLTS-Global-Menu

Some might say Unity’s interface feels Mac-inspired. But while both desktop environments use global menus, Ubuntu’s only appear when you hover your mouse over the top panel. With 16.04, that changes. If you want your menus to be always visible, you can have it that way. The option is now available in System Settings.

For several releases, Ubuntu has provided the option to place menus in the titlebar instead. This change affects that as well. Leaving the menu visible in each application’s windows is a cool way to combine old-school functionality with a modern look.

UbuntuLTS-Always-Display-App-Menus

Always showing the application menu isn’t merely an aesthetic change. Under Ubuntu’s default settings, first-time users may not know where options are located or that they even exist. Enabling this feature removes that discoverability issue.

4. Move Launcher to the Bottom

UbuntuLTS-Dock-Bottom

On today’s widescreen monitors, it makes logical sense to put the dock of the side of the screen. You have more horizontal than vertical pixels to work with.

But logic isn’t everything. Try as I might, I often find panels or docks anchored to the side to be off-putting. It’s nice having the option to move them around.

In Ubuntu 16.04, Unity finally gives you a choice. Kind of. You don’t need to install anything to make the magic happen, but you won’t find an option in System Settings. Instead, open a terminal and type:

gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Launcher launcher-position Bottom

If you decide that maybe the side suited you better, don’t fret. You can return the dock to its old position with a slightly different command.

gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Launcher launcher-position Left

You don’t have to use the terminal. An alternate approach would be installing the Unity Tweak Tool 11 Must-Have Apps on Ubuntu Right After a Fresh Install 11 Must-Have Apps on Ubuntu Right After a Fresh Install Are you looking at a fresh installation of Ubuntu and feeling a bit lost? We've compiled this list of the first eleven applications you will need to install. Read More .

5. Feeling Snappy?

UbuntuLTS-Snapcraft

Snap packages are Canonical’s new way of distributing apps. They take a different approach than what we’re accustomed to on Linux desktops. Snaps contain binaries and dependencies.

Why? This helps guarantee that apps which work now will continue to work in several years. A developer knows that if the package they distribute contains everything needed to run, it’s easier to keep software in good shape.

Snaps run in isolation from the rest of your desktop. This model is like what we see on mobile devices, where apps have to request permission to perform specific types of activities.

These are early days for Snaps, and some kinks need to be worked out. Nonetheless, there are plenty of reasons to be excited about this change How Ubuntu 16.04's New Package Format Makes Installing Software A Snap How Ubuntu 16.04's New Package Format Makes Installing Software A Snap In version 16.04, Ubuntu is hoping to strike a balance between having stability and staying up-to-date, with a new way to install apps. Let's find out how "snaps" work. Read More .

6. ZFS

Ubuntu 16.04 is the first major distribution to ship with ZFS. Canonical describes it as the combination of a volume manager and a filesystem. Like BTRFS, ZFS offers improvements geared towards servers and enterprise use From FAT To NTFS To ZFS: File Systems Demystified [MakeUseOf Explains] From FAT To NTFS To ZFS: File Systems Demystified [MakeUseOf Explains] Do you really know what your hard drive does whenever you read a file from it or write one to it? Our hard drives can now store massive amounts of data, and that massive space... Read More .

Both filesystems are copy-on-write, allowing you to efficiently create snapshots of your machine. They also manage multiple physical storage devices better than previous options.

ZFS is more mature than BTRFS and already common in production environments. The issue is that ZFS is licensed under the CDDL v1, which may not be compatible with the GPL v2 (used by the Linux kernel). This may ultimately be for courts to decide. Either way, the conflict concerns distribution of code — using it won’t land you in any trouble.

Elsewhere in Ubuntu-Land

16.04 is the first LTS release to launch with Ubuntu MATE as an official spin (Ubuntu Mate 14.04 was retroactively released after 14.10). This allows people who prefer GNOME 2 to keep running that desktop environment for many years to come The Best Lean Linux Desktop Environment: LXDE Vs Xfce Vs MATE The Best Lean Linux Desktop Environment: LXDE Vs Xfce Vs MATE On a fresh Linux installation, there's not much you can do to speed things up, other than look at your choice of desktop environment. Here we look at three options: LXDE, Xfce, and MATE. Read More .

As for other desktops, Ubuntu GNOME comes with GNOME 3.18, Kubuntu uses KDE Plasma 5.5, Xubuntu runs XFCE 4.12, and Lubuntu has LXDE 0.10.

Is Ubuntu 16.04 Right for You?

Ubuntu 16.04 may be an LTS, but this need not be a long-term relationship. In six months, you can make the leap to 16.10 and leave the LTS behind.

For others, Ubuntu 16.04 is ready to go for the next half decade (as some of you running 12.04 already know).

Do you stick with Ubuntu LTS releases? What other parts of 16.04 have you excited to upgrade? If you’ve already been running this release for the past month, what do you think?

  1. Ajay
    October 22, 2016 at 8:18 am

    Using ubuntu 16.04 since 15 days on my dell 5559. it looks great. Just lack of an update for Radeon graphic driver. Still am trying to install Linkedin, facebook and one drive, hope these updates will be available shortly.

  2. matan
    September 21, 2016 at 9:11 pm

    Very frankly, it's easy to say none of these 6 things make the hassle and instability of the upgrade worth it.

  3. David Billen
    August 13, 2016 at 6:11 pm

    My upgrade from 14.04 went completely smooth. I had tweaked a number of things to get past some hardware issues in my 14.04 install too.

    The difference in the upgrade isn't really changing my life, but there it is.

    • Boyan
      November 7, 2016 at 7:10 am

      Completely agree. I made the switch from 14.04 today and I am amazed how smooth it was. I did an image of my disk with dd before the upgrade though, just in case. But I'm pleasantly surprised how smooth the upgrade actually was. Honestly, I don't see much of a difference, but let's home it's stable and reliable.

  4. Olga
    August 11, 2016 at 7:47 pm

    Does wi-fi work in Ubuntu 16.04??

    • sinisa1hr
      October 28, 2016 at 5:30 am

      Sure.
      About which brand and model you are interested?

  5. Sundar
    July 30, 2016 at 9:29 am

    I upgraded from 14.04LTS to 16.04LTS yesterday and have now run it for 24 hours. First impression - GOOD!. Ubuntu is definitely moving in the right direction and I now use it much more than I use Windows 10, which is also a good product. But, I now prefer Ubuntu.
    The upgrade was super-smooth, and it runs like butter on my old dual core AMD system.
    Thank you Ubuntu, fabulous work.

    • rohith
      August 12, 2016 at 6:49 am

      did software installed on 14.04 existed even after upgrading ...?

  6. Sundar
    July 30, 2016 at 9:25 am

    Works well. I upgraded yesterday and have been running it now for 24 hours at a stretch. Good work folks.

  7. Jan Wester
    July 29, 2016 at 9:10 pm

    I will NOT upgrade to 16.04. I will stay on 14.04. Why? Because I see the lack of support for l2tp ipsec manager as a major issute that will block my work. Yes I am not interested of doing this work manually because I want this kind of thing GUI-based. Why? Because this is the major difficult thing easy to do as a normal user.

  8. A41202813GMAIL ..
    June 1, 2016 at 6:29 am

    Sorry, Out Of Topic.

    When I Try To Load More Comments By Clicking The Bottom Link, The Same Comment Keeps Repeating Itself Until Infinity.

    Maybe It Is Just Me.

    Cheers.

    • Mihir Patkar
      June 13, 2016 at 6:58 pm

      Seems to be working for me, A4. You got an ad-blocker on? Maybe check in incognito?

      • A41202813GMAIL ..
        June 13, 2016 at 10:41 pm

        It Seems To Be Working Fine, Now.

        Thank You.

    • Mihir Patkar
      June 13, 2016 at 6:58 pm

      Also, big thanks for marking Spam comments :) You can also mail me a link to them directly to me to get rid of them faster: mihir@makeuseof.com Really appreciate your contribution!

      • A41202813GMAIL ..
        June 13, 2016 at 10:51 pm

        A - Delete My Spam Marks Whenever You Do Not Need Them Anymore - When You Delete A Top Comment The Thread Formatting Is Completely Ruined, Anyway,

        B - I Am Using The DOLLAR Symbol On Purpose, So The Moderation Trigger Can Not Be Missed,

        C - Sorry, But Is A Lot Simpler For Me To Leave A Mark, And...

        ...This Is My Way Of Giving Something Back.

        Thank YOU.

  9. vfr2ifr
    May 31, 2016 at 12:21 am

    Not sure I understand Snaps. Are they a form of application containerisation - like the old SVS that Microsoft bought and buried, or do they presage the Linux equivalent of DLL Hell?

  10. DAVID SHARPE
    May 28, 2016 at 11:42 pm

    This is from https://wiki.ubuntu.com

    Upgrading from Ubuntu 14.04 LTS or 15.10

    14.04 LTS to LTS upgrades will be enabled with the 16.04.1 LTS point release, in approximately 3 months time.

    It may be true as I can't update.

    If true do you have an actual date to share

    Thanks
    Dave in Roanoke

  11. Dave
    May 27, 2016 at 3:59 pm

    I dropped Ubuntu years ago because of the issues described in this article -- along with many more. I am just happy to see Ubuntu now going in the right direction!! Keep up the good work. I am just sad it took so many years to make these simple changes that, at the time, EVERYONE, but the anointed few knew were bad ideas.

  12. Curious
    May 26, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    As I understand it Windows programs used to include all dependencies resulting in multiple copies eating up memory & slowing down the computer. Linux programs called dependencies from the operating system & was considered more streamlined, compact & light weight. If Snappy is following the old Windows approach, how is this an improvement?

    • John
      May 27, 2016 at 9:24 am

      It's an improvement, because with DEB's you are stuck with ancient library versions. For the base system DEB's work fine but not for application developers.

    • Jeff C
      May 31, 2016 at 12:30 am

      What Snap packages allow is running the latest version of software on a stable (well bug fixed) distro release such as *buntu LTS.
      Such as the latest version of a browser, not an earlier and therefore more vulnerable one.

    • A41202813GMAIL ..
      May 31, 2016 at 3:46 am

      ^$PAM.

      CHEERS.

    • LovesFLSun
      May 31, 2016 at 10:52 am

      Go away JERK!!

  13. Matt
    May 25, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    Why.... Why.... Why.... did you NOT!!!!!!!!! make this clear to an unsuspecting novice... and make this the first download that people on the Ubuntu website???????????
    Really.... Not a great way to encourage new users to switch!!!

    • fcd76218
      May 25, 2016 at 10:36 pm

      Download what?

    • Kensta
      May 26, 2016 at 12:23 am

      What are you even talking about, Matt? I simply do not understand a single bit of your statement.

  14. jymm56
    May 25, 2016 at 11:20 am

    I am using Ubuntu Mate 16.04. It is a bit buggy for a LTS release but stlll a very good OS that I am sure will improve over time. The first thing I did was add Synatpic which is still available on the Mate Edition. Right now I dual boot Ubuntu and Debian. Ubuntu is a bit easier to use and with the PPA's features more software that is easier to install.

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