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You’ve heard the news: Ubuntu 15.04, also known as Vivid Vervet, is officially out in the wild. What new features does it bring, and is it worth your time? Both are perfectly legitimate questions, considering that 15.04 is not a long-term support (LTS) release; it will receive updates for only nine months before its retirement. We set out to address this pressing issue and give you some answers about the latest Ubuntu while it’s still hot.

What Was the Hype All About?

Prior to release, Vivid Vervet was a regular feature in headlines, as tech news outlets latched onto every little detail they could glean from the official and not-so-official developers’ statements. Speculation and wishful thinking about Mir (and the possibility of Unity 8 as the default environment) abounded; after all, the transition to these two new technologies was planned already for Ubuntu 13.10.

However, in October 2014, Canonical’s Desktop Team manager Will Cooke crushed the rumors, confirming that Ubuntu 15.04 will continue with Unity 7 as the default desktop and Unity 8 as the (so far) incomplete option. Six days later, Mark Shuttleworth announced the codename, temporarily causing a spike in Google searches for “vervet” (it’s a monkey.)

ubuntu-vivid-vervet

Around this time, big news hit the Kubuntu community – Plasma 5 was announced as the default desktop for Kubuntu 15.04. The hype that followed this decision was, in part, justified; Plasma 5 is an amazing desktop environment The Current State Of the New Linux Desktop Environment, Plasma 5 The Current State Of the New Linux Desktop Environment, Plasma 5 After years of polishing the 4.x series, KDE is once again leading the innovation race among Linux desktop environments with its latest product: Plasma 5. Read More that deserves all the coverage. With the beginning of 2015 and the release date approaching, information about new features trickled out into the public. We found out that Ubuntu 15.04 would ship with 3.19 kernel and that Ubuntu MATE How To Install The MATE Desktop On Your Linux System How To Install The MATE Desktop On Your Linux System The MATE desktop might well be the right choice for you. If you're interested in using the MATE desktop, here are several ways to get it, including on your favorite distributions. Read More would be welcomed into the family of official Ubuntu flavors.

ubuntu-vivid-mate-official

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And then in March 2015, nearly a month before the final release, the most controversial shift happened: Ubuntu 15.04 switched from Upstart to systemd (a set of tools that control the initialization of a Linux system). The problem with systemd is mostly ideologicalits design goes against the principles of the Unix philosophy Linux Vs Unix: The Crucial Differences That Matter To Linux Professionals Linux Vs Unix: The Crucial Differences That Matter To Linux Professionals Linux didn't appear out of thin air; before the creation of Linux, and before the rise of Windows, the computing world was dominated by Unix. What exactly is the difference between Linux and Unix? Read More , and its adoption sparked heated debates and verbal spats between Linux developers and system admins. Ubuntu’s switch to systemd was not completely unexpected, but it’s still one of the biggest changes in Vivid Vervet.

Did Canonical Deliver?

As promised, Vivid Vervet does come with systemd, but Upstart isn’t entirely gone. You can even continue using Upstart by choosing to boot with it from the GRUB menu, or install a package called upstart-sysv that will remove systemd. So much for the controversy.

If you decide to keep it, your system will start and shut down faster, as many users already reported. You can measure your boot time BootTimer - Objectively Measure Your Windows XP Boot Time BootTimer - Objectively Measure Your Windows XP Boot Time Read More with the systemd-analyze command. Laptop owners might also notice longer battery life Get More Runtime From A Single Laptop Battery Charge Get More Runtime From A Single Laptop Battery Charge Does your laptop battery charge not last long? This guide will offer tips on how to get more runtime from a single charge, using simple Windows settings. Read More on systemd.

Hardware and Software Upgrades

General performance improvements come as a result of upgrades to several key components. Xorg 1.17 provides better support for both AMD and Nvidia graphics, and Compiz stepped up its game by fixing bugs with Nvidia proprietary drivers. Vivid Vervet should feel fast and responsive thanks to polished animations in Unity 7.3, and although it’s subjective, you might experience smoother video reproduction as well.

For that purpose, you can use Totem Watch All Your Videos & Music With Totem Movie Player [Linux] Watch All Your Videos & Music With Totem Movie Player [Linux] Everyone likes a good media player, no matter what system they're using. While I still highly recommend VLC media player as one of the best for any system because of its wide range of playable... Read More , one of many applications that received a bump in version numbers. You’ll find Firefox in version 37 and Chromium in 41, and LibreOffice shines in its feature-packed 4.4 iteration Is the New LibreOffice a Better Microsoft Office Alternative? Is the New LibreOffice a Better Microsoft Office Alternative? LibreOffice, a long-time contender of Microsoft Office, just received a makeover and important updates. After being held back by niggling bugs over the years, has LibreOffice finally found the winning formula? Read More . PulseAudio jumped from version 4.0 to 6.0, and the Flash browser plugin now includes both NPAPI and PPAPI (Pepperflash) versions.

ubuntu-vivid-libreoffice

The Driver Manager now offers CPU microcode updates, and Vivid Vervet remembers your screen brightness settings after shutdown.

ubuntu-vivid-cpu-microcode

Out-of-the-box hardware support in general has improved owing to the new kernel. More Broadcom devices are now automatically recognized, and gaming or multi-button mice also work better. Some users reported problems with touchpads, and there might be issues when suspending the system on SSD devices, though this can be resolved by upgrading the kernel 5 Reasons Why You Should Update Your Kernel Often [Linux] 5 Reasons Why You Should Update Your Kernel Often [Linux] If you're using a Linux distribution like Ubuntu or Fedora, you're also using the Linux kernel, the core that actually makes your distribution a Linux distribution. Your distribution constantly asks you to update your kernel.... Read More .

Desktop Environment Tweaks

As for the more obvious features, there isn’t much to talk about, at least in the case of Unity. There’s a new wallpaper, so Vivid Vervet is better than Utopic Unicorn in that respect. The users are so excited that their sarcasm levels are off the charts.

ubuntu-vivid-wallpaper

On a more serious note, the biggest change in Unity is a cosmetic but welcome one. Introduced almost last-minute, the option to display locally integrated menus (LIMs) in the titlebar of un-maximized windows instead of the global menu on the panel marks a return to traditional desktop behavior.

ubuntu-vivid-locally-integrated-menus

By default, these titlebar menus will auto-hide and wait for the mouse-over action, but it’s possible to enable the Always show menus option in Dconf Editor. Another much needed feature is the ability to use the Dash and HUD over full-screen windows.

ubuntu-vivid-fullscreen-hud

Truly exciting changes come from Kubuntu and MATE departments. Kubuntu ships with KDE Applications 4.12.0 which include fresh Qt5 ports of Konsole, Kate and Gwenview. With Plasma 5.3 just around the corner, those who choose Kubuntu 15.04 have a lot to look forward to.

Ubuntu MATE now supports Compiz, has a new settings dialog for LightDM, and introduces hardware support for PowerPC and Raspberry Pi 2. There’s also a practical feature for tweaking the panel layout called User Interface Switching. With just a few clicks you can transform Ubuntu MATE into a Windows-like desktop.

ubuntu-vivid-mate-layout

Unfortunately, GNOME 3.16 didn’t make it into Vivid Vervet, so the entire GNOME version is underwhelming. It settled on GNOME 3.14 which brings some new applications and the Numix theme suite.

Canonical clearly aimed for a tame release to avoid the risk of breaking the system and having to devote too much time to fixing issues on a non-LTS release. This is a reasonable strategy, since all their efforts are currently focused on perfecting Unity 8 and developing a convergent system.

Should You Switch to Ubuntu 15.04?

In a way, Ubuntu 15.04 feels like a release for the sake of schedule. Although the switch to systemd is a major item, there aren’t any revolutionary changes that an average desktop user would notice immediately.

Developers have more reason for excitement about this release, because it comes with a revamped Developer Tools Centre, now dubbed Ubuntu Make, which provides support for 15 different development platforms. Cloud and server versions Why Are There So Many Versions of Ubuntu? [Technology Explained] Why Are There So Many Versions of Ubuntu? [Technology Explained] Read More also received significant updates, and the biggest novelty is the snappy Ubuntu Core, a minimal and secure edition of Ubuntu for devices like power drones, network switches, and the IoT-connected smart devices What Is The Internet Of Things & How Will It Affect Our Future [MakeUseOf Explains] What Is The Internet Of Things & How Will It Affect Our Future [MakeUseOf Explains] It seems like there are new buzzwords popping up and dying off with each day that passes us by, and "the Internet of Things" just happens to be one of the more recent ideas that... Read More .

Was Vivid Vervet worth the wait? Depends on what you were expecting. If you secretly hoped for Unity 8 or any substantial changes to Unity 7, you’ll be disappointed. On the other hand, if you were waiting for an easy, Ubuntu-based way to try Plasma 5, Kubuntu 15.04 is well worth your time.

Do upgrade to Vivid Vervet if:

  • you’re a developer
  • you’ve had trouble with hardware recognition and support on previous versions
  • you want to try Plasma 5 or MATE with Compiz.

Feel free to skip Ubuntu 15.04 if:

  • you’re currently using a LTS edition, whether it’s Ubuntu or a Ubuntu-based distribution
  • you’re not a fan of systemd, and all your hardware already runs smoothly
  • you already have the latest versions of applications provided with Ubuntu 15.04.

What’s Next?

Not much is known about Ubuntu 15.10, except that it comes out in October 2015. The codename is still a mystery—we know it starts with W, but will it be a wolf or a wombat yet remains to be revealed. Utopic Unicorn will reach end-of-life in July, and by then we’ll have more information about the 15.10 release, because Ubuntu Developer Summit takes place in May.

You can keep up with the development of Unity 8 by trying the experimental Ubuntu Desktop Next daily builds, as these images are the first to get new features. It’s safe to say that Ubuntu 15.10 will come even closer to Canonical’s ultimate goal—convergence—and that it will feature significant changes to Unity 8 and Mir display server. And, of course, a new wallpaper.

Have you tried Ubuntu 15.04? What do you think of Vivid Vervet? Are you planning to upgrade soon? Let’s have a chat down in the comments.

Image Credits: Featured image, Young Vervet, Mitchell Park Zoo, Durban, July 2013 by AlDuncan06 via Wikimedia Commons.

  1. Victoria McKnight
    September 26, 2015 at 6:02 am

    No matter what I try except swapping out my "/dev/sda5" which I don't want the security risk ..I can not log in with my password on the login gui screen...I can if I ctrl+alt+F1 I have all the permissions set...and still I can not log in...grrr...looks like I will have to reinstall 14.04
    Sooo frustrating!!

  2. James
    May 18, 2015 at 6:18 am

    If you are putting any Ubuntu iso onto a flashdrive in order to dual boot with either Win 8 or 8.1, you MUST create the usb drive to contain Ubuntu using an installer( like "Pendrive Installer") invoked from INSIDE the Windows 8.* session. Creating the Ubuntu usb boot from any machine using a regular "old" BIOS as we did with Win 7( or in Linux with "Unetbootin") and less won't boot Ubuntu on a Win 8.1 machine because they usually come with pre-installed Windows 8.1 which contains the problematic new UEFI BIOS and Secure Boot. However, if you check online, go to Windows and disable Fast Startup, disable Secure Boot, shrink space occupied by C: drive, change the boot order in the UEFI menu to "see" the USB drive first, the UEFI BIOS will accept your USB with it's Ubuntu boot and installer. It won't consider it an alien rootkit virus and not boot. I tried it on a new HP Pavillion. WIN 8.1 and Ubuntu 14.04 now exist happily side by each. Hope this helps.

  3. Keith Sanders
    May 7, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    My upgrade to 15.04 from 14.04 LTS could not handle the external monitor attached to my laptop. So, I switched to Mint 17.1 w/ the Cinnamon UI. It is smooth and stable, so it looks like I'll be sticking with that for a good while.

  4. Ivana Isadora
    May 5, 2015 at 10:46 pm

    Wow, it makes me really sad to see that so many people have problems and unpleasant experiences with this new Ubuntu... :( I almost feel personally responsible!

    If any of you would like some help in resolving your problems, feel free to ask a question in our Answers section. Just make sure to describe your problem in detail with enough information about your hardware. I'd be happy to help, and if I can't, I'm sure someone else from our team will!

    Of course, you can just go back to the latest LTS edition of Ubuntu and wait for the Wily Werewolf (yep, in the meantime they announced the name of Ubuntu 15.10). Hopefully it won't be as lackluster as this one.

    • Anna Summers
      October 18, 2016 at 7:02 pm

      I'm new to this site (and to Linux). Where is the Answers Section? I'm building a new desktop for Linux and would appreciate some advice on internal and external hardware.

      Thanks,
      Anna

  5. Roger
    May 5, 2015 at 9:03 pm

    Upgraded from 14.10 to 15.04, but Firefox no longer works.

    • Roger
      May 5, 2015 at 11:10 pm

      After reinstalling Firefox and restarting Ubuntu Firefox is now working.
      Roger

  6. rory thomas
    May 3, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    I upgraded to 15.04 on a new install and its screwed the graphics up 1024 x 768 being the best setting i can get. Have been scanning the forums for a couple of days but have decided to return to 14 in the short term

  7. Elven Decker
    May 2, 2015 at 9:47 pm

    I put 15.04 on two old Gateways and a brand new HP laptop, all dual boot . A little snappier than the last release, nothing more worthy of note. I also installed it on an old Dell, and the graphics don't work. On that computer I ended up down shifting to Lubuntu, where I also saw a performance improvement. ;) I keep checking every few days to see if one of the upgrades has fixed my graphics problem, but so far nothing.

    I'm a pretty experienced Linux user (at one time distros came across modems on floppies) and I have to say that I'm disappointed with the lack of diagnostics for this particular Ubuntu graphics problem. Graphics problems with Ubuntu aren't that uncommon, but in previous releases there have been plenty of hints as to what the problem might be.

  8. Ayo Isaiah
    May 2, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    Just installed Ubuntu 15.04 in dual boot mode along with Windows 8. Works great so far and deffo faster than my windows installation. It's my first foray into linux so I really cant compare to the previous versions.

  9. Rick
    May 2, 2015 at 8:42 am

    Vived vervet/varmint knocked out my wifi card. I have to get out the blue Cat-5 to get online for now. Still poking around, but it really feels like the 14.x OS

  10. John D. White
    May 1, 2015 at 6:33 am

    I would like to try 15.04, but having burned an ISO to a DVD and [1] failing to install it successfully on a dual-boot HP Pavilion laptop and [2] burning the ISO to a new flash drive via both UNboot (forgot the exact name) and another highly-recommended burner pgm (Win...something), neither worked on this laptop. OTOH, I am running from a super-fast flashdrive-based Ubuntu 14+ that finds HP wireless printers almost instantly and suits me fine. I WOULD like to try 15.04, but instead of seriously considering adding 14+ to this laptop as a dual boot unidentical twin to the slightly-imperfect Windows 7 Home Premium on the same machine. I'm running the Ubuntu at the moment.
    jdwh

  11. dobule
    April 30, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    nothing really exciting or new. windows 10 is more exciting.

    • Col. Panek
      May 1, 2015 at 1:45 am

      OK, how about "15.04 is the BEST UBUNTU EVER!" Would you fall for that kind of hype?

      And Ubuntu has the new KDE Plasma 5, and MATE. Two good reasons to try it. On top of the usual reasons to prefer it over Windows.

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