Ubuntu 18.04 LTS: Should You Upgrade? 7 Reasons
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With a spring 2018 release date, Ubuntu 18.04 LTS “Bionic Beaver” brings a new set of features to Linux computing. You might be unsure about whether to update. Well, here are several reasons why you should upgrade Ubuntu to version 18.04 on your current Linux PC or laptop.

Ubuntu 18.04 LTS: The Facts

Scheduled for release in April 2018, Ubuntu 18.04 (codenamed “Bionic Beaver”) is an important version of the popular Linux OS.

Every two years an LTS release is made, and Ubuntu 18.04 is the first since 2016. Long Term Support releases have five years of support from Ubuntu’s developers, Canonical. This means you can use Ubuntu 18.04 LTS with support until 2023.

A note about the naming convention: Ubuntu 18.04 is so-called because it’s released in the fourth month of 2018. We can expect a non-LTS iteration late in 2018, known as 18.10. Every year, Ubuntu’s six-monthly cycle releases in April and October.

So, why should you upgrade to Ubuntu 18.04? Let’s dive into the reasons.

1. Security Enhancements

First and foremost, you should upgrade your current Ubuntu version regularly in order to benefit from the latest security patches. These might be for the operating system, drivers, or even (in the case of the Meltdown and Spectre bugs Meltdown and Spectre Leave Every CPU Vulnerable to Attack Meltdown and Spectre Leave Every CPU Vulnerable to Attack A huge security flaw with Intel CPUs has been uncovered. Meltdown and Spectre are two new vulnerabilities that affect the CPU. You ARE affected. What can you do about it? Read More ) the underlying hardware.

It’s worth pointing out here that this is true of all operating systems, whether Linux-based, Windows, or macOS. Regular updates will improve your computer’s security. This is why Windows XP users are regularly encouraged to upgrade or switch to Linux Switch from Windows to Linux and Get Up and Running in Minutes Switch from Windows to Linux and Get Up and Running in Minutes Switching from Windows to Linux might seem complex, but it's easy! Here's how to your get important data and programs from one OS to the other. Read More .

However, there is a potential security concern that you should be aware of. With Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, Canonical intends to collect data from your computer. But there is nothing personally identifiable in this data. Instead, it is to establish your computer’s hardware components, what version of Ubuntu you’re running, your location (based on your choice when setting up Ubuntu) and a few other things.

This marks a change from Canonical’s previous attitude to this sort of data collection, but is understandable given how flakey figures are for Linux usage around the world. Crucially, this data collection can be opted out of; if you’re upgrading from a previous version of Ubuntu, meanwhile, you can also opt in.

2. GNOME Arrives on the LTS Release

Ubuntu GNOME LTS desktop

Perhaps the biggest news of the LTS release is GNOME 3.28. Since GNOME replaced Unity in Ubuntu 17.10 (although Unity isn’t quite dead) GNOME has been the default desktop environment (pictured above on Artful Aardvark).

Of course, you don’t have to go with GNOME. Other Ubuntu desktop environments are available, such as MATE MATE Explained: A Look at One of Linux's Most Enduring Desktops MATE Explained: A Look at One of Linux's Most Enduring Desktops Unlike commercial operating systems, Linux lets you change your desktop environment. One of the most popular is MATE, but how good is it, and should you install it on your Linux PC? Let's find out. Read More .

GNOME on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS marks the first appearance of the new Unity-esque customized GNOME 3.0 desktop on a long-term support release. And it’s a great reason to upgrade Ubuntu to version 18.04. If you want to stick with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, you can use the Unity Tweak Tool to customize the desktop.

3. A Brand New Icon Set

Ubuntu GNOME icon set

Despite hopes to the contrary (and a dedicated community project), Ubuntu 18.04 will not boast a fresh new look. However, while the Ambiance theme is hanging around (despite looking a bit tired), new icons are expected in Ubuntu.

Open source icon project Suru has been incorporated into Ubuntu 18.04. These icons were originally seen in the abandoned Ubuntu Touch mobile operating system (now under the control of UBPorts.com).

As noted on the Suru web page (where you can take a look at what’s to come), “Original mobile application icons have been repurposed to theme their GNOME counterparts. Folder and file type icons have been added, based on an unreleased Suru concept. Plus a complete symbolic icon set has been created, with many icons based on the original Suru system icons.”

4. Color Emojis

Ubuntu GNOME smileys and emojis

Sick of Ubuntu leaving you with embarrassing black and white emojis? Upgrade Ubuntu to 18.04 LTS, and your embarrassment is a thing of the past, thanks to full color emojis!

You’re stoked, right? I can tell.

Although some tweaks will give you color emojis on versions of Ubuntu prior to 18.04 LTS, this is the first time they’ve been included by default.

The emojis you’ll find in Ubuntu 18.04 LTS are the same open source emojis as found on Android. For many users, then, these will be familiar.

5. A New Linux Kernel

Sitting at the heart of every Linux-based operating system is the kernel. This is basically the component of the operating system that talks to the hardware (here’s a more in-depth explanation The Linux Kernel: An Explanation In Layman's Terms The Linux Kernel: An Explanation In Layman's Terms There is only one de facto thing that Linux distributions have in common: the Linux kernel. But while it's often talked about, a lot of people don't really know exactly what it does. Read More ).

Ubuntu 18.04 LTS was initially expected to include Linux Kernel v4.14, and while this still may be the case, there is also a good chance that the 4.15 Kernel might appear instead.

6. Community-Sourced Default Features and Apps

Also worth your time on the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS is the collection of community sourced features and apps. Announced in April 2017, the call for suggestions has resulted in improved support for NVIDIA GPUs, touchpad gesture support and BlueZ implementation for improved Bluetooth functionality.

But it doesn’t end there. Apps were also suggested How You Can Help Canonical Shape Ubuntu Today! How You Can Help Canonical Shape Ubuntu Today! Aggrieved that your favorite operating system doesn't feature the options you love? Reckon that your ideas for an improved desktop experience should be listened to? Well, so does Canonical. Read More , with some obvious choices such as Mozilla Firefox and LibreOffice, while Kdenlive and GNOME Calendar are also in the list.

These tools will not be available in the operating system by default, however. Rather, you’ll have the option to install them as you install Ubuntu.

7. Xorg Display Server Returns

Ubuntu GNOME login

Over the past couple of years, Ubuntu has had a tough time, with the withdrawal of its mobile variant, and the end of Unity. One of the biggest sticking points was the switch to the Wayland display server in Ubuntu 17.10. While it continues to be earmarked as the display server of the future, the lack of app support for Wayland resulted in users switching back to Xorg.

As a result, Ubuntu 18.04 LTS comes with Xorg restored as the default display server. However, it’s simple enough to switch back to Wayland, via a cog icon on the login screen.

Great Reasons to Upgrade Ubuntu Today

So, Ubuntu 18.04 LTS is coming, and you have plenty of reasons to upgrade. To recap:

  1. Security enhancements
  2. GNOME on LTS
  3. Brand new icons
  4. Color emojis
  5. New Linux kernel
  6. Community-sourced features
  7. Xorg display server

Want a better understanding of how this all fits in with Ubuntu? Check our Ubuntu startup guide. And if you’re ready, it may be now time to upgrade to Ubuntu 19.04 5 Reasons to Upgrade to Ubuntu 19.04 "Disco Dingo" 5 Reasons to Upgrade to Ubuntu 19.04 "Disco Dingo" Considering an upgrade (or complete switch) to Ubuntu 19.04? Here are the top reasons to embrace the latest version of Ubuntu. Read More .

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  1. John IL
    July 23, 2018 at 2:18 am

    So I never disliked Unity but I have to say 18.04 with Gnome 3 is acceptable replacement so far. I just hope Ubuntu developers decide to just stick with it for awhile.

  2. Cesar Xavier
    July 17, 2018 at 1:04 am

    I have been using kubuntu 14.04 since its inception. It is working perfectly since then; it is on zfs root, awesome ! I have in it hoards of programs, including, Altera's quartus for hardware description language programming. I have install two versions of the Enlightenment desktop, gnome shell, and the rest of linux desktops. Now, I have tried both kubuntu 16.04 and 18.04. The changes don't justify the incredible difficulties and work of not only installing on zfs root but reinstalling, compiling, tuning, etc. etc. all the software. I have it running 6 consoles with 9 virtual desktops wi.th a different wallpaper each, something missing since 16.04. All in all, I think kubuntu has regressed a lot, I only see cosmetic changes in appearance, perhaps to fit smart phones and tablets; but as a desktop it simple does not convince me. I will stay with 14.04 and wait for the many bugs and incompatibilities of 18.04 to be resolved, including the big problem of importing zfs pools created with version of zfs 0.6.5 and the version in 18.04 which is 0.7.5-9. Lastly I want to say the the problems are not because zfs because I have installed 16.04 and 18.04 in ext4 file system and LVM. I would appreciate a response to this comment. Thanks

  3. Mike LaPlante
    June 7, 2018 at 1:13 pm

    You kids and your emojis...... adorable. I NEED Msft integration to work flawlessly. Period. Otherwise, I keep reaching for my Win10 rig. I'm still repairing it from the April update! ....don't get me started.

  4. BenDaMan
    May 12, 2018 at 6:16 am

    Linux has lost it's identity. Instead of releasing new versions fix the ones that are out already. Get on board with wine and get it working with new Microsoft software. Stop leaving stones un-turned. Make it easier to install software without using the command line. Make sure the software store works and is able to upgrade installed apps to the latest version even if it's not located on your servers. Fix the video problems that happen when using more than one monitor.

  5. JimW
    April 11, 2018 at 6:29 am

    I also thought icons and emojis were 'reaching' for ideas to share about the new Ubuntu Release. I could care less about the icons or the emojis. Gnome not the best environment. I haven't used Linux for several years. My work requires me to use MS apps on a windows desktop... I think the KDE environment would make a better choice. Even though I'm not an active linux user... I do keep abreast of the linux world. I was using linux back in the day when there wasn't a GUI and all you had was the linux terminal with line commands. When Gnome was first released it was very popular, but I was drawn to the KDE Desktop and it seemed to me back then, (over 20 years ago), that either were good GUIs. I think from what I've read that K has streamlined their environment much better than Gnome. Currently, I'm looking forward to retiring and have been looking forward to more time with linux and its latest apps. Nothing in this article, except security features, would persuade me to go with the new Ubuntu.

  6. Olaf
    March 29, 2018 at 5:31 pm

    To me the switch from Unity to Gnome Shell is a counter-feature of 18.04 and the reason why I won't upgrade to the next LTS release on release day for the first time in a decade.

    Unity is very a very polished, productive and space efficient DE. Each time I test GS I find it slower, clunkier and generally less polished than Unity.

    I get it, many people had a bad first impression when Canonical first introduced Unity years ago and I hate the global menu (luckily I could always switch to local menu and that became even easier over time).
    But that was years ago and Unity 7 improved a lot. GS OTOH is still mostly the same clunky inefficient mess as when Unity first arrived (in my perception).

    I hope Unity survives and that the Unity option in 18.04 doesn't bit rot over the next 2 years.
    I understand that Mark Shuttleworth got tired of throwing his money at convergence - but the switch to GS is a sad day for Ubuntu IMHO.


  7. Gary Dauphin
    March 28, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    "Brand new icons
    Color emojis"

    Why do I feel like you were reaching for reasons here....?

    • Troll
      March 28, 2018 at 4:47 pm

      The same marketing of Apple stuffs LOL

    • Jim
      March 30, 2018 at 10:12 am

      Hate Gnome 3. Don't care if it uses Xorg or Wayland. Have never used an emoji in my life. I like the old icons. Will wait for Ubuntu Mate 18.04 LTS to be released to upgrade.

    • emoji-less
      April 3, 2018 at 11:53 pm

      I'm afraid emojis aren't even one of my considerations when I choose an OS or DE.

  8. Simon Quigley
    March 28, 2018 at 2:48 am

    17.10 was so awful I switched to CentOS which I have never used on my desktop because it always used to be so awful. I've been running Ubuntu since 6.x or 7.x. Just sad. Unity was awful and gnome 3 is almost worse. Why doesn't alt tab work? Why is it now alt escape or ctrl escape or something? Why keep breaking things? Just because Microsoft keeps renaming and moving things doesn't mean everyone else has to.

    • drhappy13
      March 28, 2018 at 10:38 am

      Totally agree. Plus, this was a pretty poorly written article.

    • dragonmouth
      March 28, 2018 at 12:19 pm

      "Just because Microsoft keeps renaming and moving things doesn't mean everyone else has to."
      Not everyone, just Canonical. Canonical is a MS wannabe. Monkey see, monkey do.

      • emoji-less
        April 3, 2018 at 11:59 pm

        "Not everyone, just Canonical. Canonical is a MS wannabe. "

        I completely agree with this. Shuttleworth wants Canonical to be the Microsoft of the Linux world with Ubuntu being its Windows and him being its Bill Gates.

    • emoji-less
      April 3, 2018 at 11:56 pm

      Alt-Tab doesn't do what it should? I thought the function of that key combo was carved in bedrock somewhere...never to be changed.

      • Simon Quigley
        April 4, 2018 at 12:00 am

        It should be written in stone. They changed it so that it switched between apps, instead of windows. Ie you have 2 Firefox windows and the calculator open.. Use the calculator, go to Firefox, go to the other Firefox window. Alt tab now switches to the calculator instead of the first Firefox window. It's even worse when you are trying to work with a bunch of terminal windows.

        • Nikila
          July 29, 2018 at 1:27 pm

          YES! It is the absolute worst!