What’s New in Ubuntu 16.04?

It’s that time of year again! Ubuntu release time! Ubuntu 16.04 is out. It is because of this new release, we thought we’d go over some of the major new things being brought to this release.

Please note that this article goes over the most notable changes and features of Ubuntu. There may be other features for Ubuntu 16.04 that are not listed.

So, what’s new?

Every first even-numbered release of Ubuntu is a long-term support. This means that Ubuntu 16.04 is the latest long-term version of Ubuntu, complete with the latest packages, an ultra-stable kernel and rock solid support for five years.

Long-term support releases are a huge deal, as a large number of Ubuntu users do not use odd-number releases (e.g. 15.04, etc.). Most find themselves going LTS to LTS, be it in businesses or for personal use. This makes 16.04 the next release after 14.04.

ubuntu1604-kernel-version

Having a new kernel in a Ubuntu release isn’t anything new. Every single release, Canonical chooses a kernel to go with, and then sticks with it. This time, Ubuntu 16.04 is offering up Linux kernel 4.4 as an LTS release.

This is the underlying reason why Canonical chose this version and not something newer like version 4.5. Every couple of Linux kernel releases, an LTS version is released. The reasoning is similar to Ubuntu’s own: stability.

The latest kernel updates are nice. Just ask Arch Linux or Open SUSE Tumbleweed users. Still, a staggering amount of Ubuntu users are production users. This is why the LTS kernel is so important. You need rock-solid features, but you also need stability in an environment where anything could happen.

New features in kernel 4.4 include 3D support for virtual GPUs, support for open-channel SSDs, lockless TCP listener handling, loop device support for both Direct I/O, as well as Asynchronous I/O.

ubuntu1604-apt-package-manager

Ubuntu 16.04 marks the first version of Ubuntu Linux that marches away from Apt-get. You can check out the differences between Apt and Apt-get here.

Apt doesn’t outright replace Apt-get in Ubuntu 16.04. You can still use apt-get, but it’s no longer treated as default on the system. However, it’s clear that in the future Canonical is planning on dropping Apt-get for Apt.

It comes with some great new features such as improved search, a loading bar when unpacking packages, faster installations, simplified commands, and improved security.

ubuntu1604-snappy

Snap packages is a new feature introduced to Ubuntu that makes maintaining and installing packages much easier. You can search and install snaps by just opening up a terminal, and entering snap find packagename.

Note: you’ll need to install snap first.

sudo apt install snap

This will allow you to search through all of the snaps in the Ubuntu snap package store. Install them with the following:

sudo snap install packagename

Snaps make it easy for developers to deliver newer software to Ubuntu, an operating system that often freezes its repos. The technology does this by allowing program creators to contain everything inside an installable binary. For example, if you install a snap package that contains Gnome 3.20, it’ll contain everything that Gnome 3.20 requires. This means dependencies, program code and everything, entirely self-contained and independent of the system.

Software projects evolve fast, and Canonical feels that the current way programs are delivered on its operating system isn’t up to the task anymore. They just can’t keep up, so they felt the need to supplement their system of PPAs and repositories with this new feature.

ubuntu1604-zfs-logo

As of Ubuntu 16.04, the operating system now comes with the ability to use ZFS. For those who are unfamiliar, ZFS is the file system widely deployed on FreeBSD systems. It is fairly popular in the enterprise space and has support for snapshots and other compelling features.

This feature has been a longtime coming, as ZFS can already be used on Linux with the help of some third-party installation methods. ZFS fans will be happy that they can choose their favorite file system during installation.

ubuntu1604-online-results

For a while now, Ubuntu has had “online results” enabled in the Unity dash. If you searched for something in the Dash, you’d also be met with pesky Amazon suggestions. This is a controversial feature and one that free software advocates have criticized since its introduction.

In Ubuntu 16.04 this feature has been shut off by default. If you’re in the minority and you actually like seeing Amazon search results in the Dash, you’ll now have to enable them to see them in Settings.

ubuntu1604-unity-launcher-bottom

For the longest time, Ubuntu’s Unity refused to let you move or modify it hardly at all. This changes in Ubuntu 16.04. Using a tweaking tool in this release of Ubuntu allows you to move the Unity launcher to the bottom of the screen.

Though a hidden feature, it’s neat none-the-less. Considering that the Unity dock takes up a lot of space, many people have often wished they could change the location of the panel, so it could be used more efficiently.

Moving it to the bottom of the screen it an easy process. If you’re interested in knowing exactly how to do this, check out this article.

Ubuntu 16.04 is an exciting release with a lot of fascinating changes. Canonical is on a roll with all of the new changes to their operating system as of late. We don’t yet know the full impact of these, but time will tell.

What’s your favorite new thing introduced in Ubuntu 16.04? Tell us below!

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Ubuntu Developers, MakeTechEasier

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