What’s New in Ubuntu’s 14.04 Official Derivatives

Along with the slew of package updates and the move to Linux kernel 3.13, one of the key features of Ubuntu 14.04 (dubbed Trusty Tahr) is that is it marked as a Long Term Support (LTS) Release. This means that 14.04 will receive free security updates until 2019. The current LTS release, Ubuntu 12.04, will still get updates until 2017. This is great for businesses and organizations that want a stable platform without the headache and costs of upgrading every six months.

But what about the official derivatives of Ubuntu like Ubuntu GNOME, Kubuntu, Lubuntu and Xubuntu? What is new for this release and will they offer Long Term Support?

The good news is that 14.04 is shaping up to be an extraordinary LTS release. For the first time, all of the official Ubuntu flavors will have LTS status. Not all of them will offer five year support, but as a minimum, they will all offer at least three years of support. Three years means that users can install 14.04 and know that an upgrade won’t be needed until the next LTS release (16.04) has been made and is firmly established.

The GNOME-based variant of Ubuntu will ship with GNOME 3.10 which was released last September. GNOME 3.10 included changes like a reworked system status area, which gives a more focused overview of your system, and a collection of new applications, including Maps, Notes, Music and Photos. GNOME 3.12 was recently just released; however, it was published too late to be part of Ubuntu GNOME 14.04. For those who want/need GNOME 3.12 on top of 14.04, the Ubuntu GNOME team have a PPA with the latest GNOME builds.

Ubuntu GNOME 14.04

Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 is also the first LTS release for the project, and although it isn’t five years of LTS, it is one of the biggest achievements ever for the Ubuntu GNOME community.

Based on KDE 4.13, Kubuntu 14.04 offers five years of LTS support along with a bunch of updates and improvements over the previous releases. Kubuntu 14.04 uses Mozilla Firefox 28 as the default web browser, and the previous Additional Drivers application has been replaced by the all new Driver Manager. The Driver Manager allows you to install and select the drivers you want to use. The built-in recommendation software now notifies you when better drivers are available for your hardware, including proprietary drivers.

Kubuntu 14.04

This Ubuntu flavor is based on the lightweight LXDE desktop environment, and the 14.04 release will be its first with Long Term Support. The project didn’t offer LTS for 12.04, but now due to various improvements to the project structure, the team asked for and received official LTS status for three years. Lubuntu 14.04 is only an incremental change over 13.10, and the focus has been on getting the LTS status. However, there are some improvements including a new release of the file manager with support for folder settings, dual pane view and menu editing.

The 14.04 release of Xubuntu uses the Xfce project’s latest desktop manager, xfdesktop 4.11, and is marked as a Long Term Support release, which means it will be supported for three years. The Xfce project isn’t itself moving at a lightning pace, but Xubuntu 14.04 will have a few enhancements over previous releases, including the use of the Mugshot user account profile editor and the use of the Light-locker screen lock instead of Xscreensaver.

As well as the general Ubuntu derivatives, there are also some specialized flavors which are built to perform certain tasks. Ubuntu Studio is designed for those who work a lot with multimedia, Edubuntu for those in education and Mythbuntu for those who use MythTV. These three will also get 14.04 releases and all three will offer long term support for at least three years.

Now that there are lots of Ubuntu variants with Long Term Support, will you use one of those rather than the mainstream Ubuntu version?

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