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Review: Ubuntu 21.04

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Ubuntu

Like clockwork, every April sees the release of a new version of Ubuntu and all the official variants. This release of Ubuntu, Hirsute Hippo, is noteworthy for its decision to not include the new desktop layout featured in GNOME 40. Instead, Ubuntu 21.04 continues to use version 3.38 of GNOME Shell. This means the desktop experience remains much the same as it has been in recent Ubuntu releases.

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Ubuntu 21.04 is a very solid release. Users of new releases of other GNOME-based distributions might be experiencing the new GNOME 40 interface, but Ubuntu 21.04's GNOME 3.38 desktop environment is functional and familiar. I do look forward to seeing how Ubuntu might tweak GNOME Shell 40 (or whatever the current post-40 GNOME version is at the time) in the future, but can find no fault with the decision to stick with 3.38 for now. The few issues I had with release are so minor they are barely worth repeating, but it would have been nice to see some non-hippo wallpapers.

Overall, I would recommend Ubuntu 21.04 to anyone who is okay with the short 9 month support window. If you are already a user of non-LTS Ubuntu releases, the upgrade from 20.10 to 21.04 is something you should feel comfortable doing as soon as possible. The new features, while not massive, are very nice quality of life improvements. Distro hoppers might be slightly more interested in distributions that feature GNOME 40, but I would still recommend they at least try out Ubuntu 21.04 to see what it has to offer.

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