Ubuntu 20.04

Ubuntu 20.04 was released on 23 April, and it looks really good. I decided to upgrade my home laptop, and this post is a little summary of how I’ve gotten on with the new OS.

Patience (or Lack Thereof)

I don’t spend as much time tinkering with Linux as I used to, so I stick to Ubuntu’s Long Term Support (LTS) releases for maximum stability with the least amount of hassle. I can wait for the bugs to be worked out with all the new toys, so I skip the inbetween releases and stay on the LTS track. When I’m ready to switch I usually reinstall the OS from scratch, but for 20.04 I decided I was going to save myself some time and effort getting things set up the way I like again by just using the built-in updater instead.

Ubuntu’s updater doesn’t notify LTS users of a new version until the first point release several months later, but I’m still impatient enough to want the new LTS now, so I went ahead and forced the upgrade by running update-manager -c -d. This tells the updater to look for “in development” releases to upgrade to on this occasion, and as the new LTS just shipped and there isn’t a newer version of Ubuntu available yet, that’s the version it found and offered to upgrade to.

Upgrading 18.04 to 20.04

The updater immediately picked up the existence of 20.04 and guided me through the upgrade. It hung for a couple of moments replacing Chromium with a new Snap version, but otherwise ran flawlessly and my ThinkPad rebooted in to 20.04 about 30 minutes later.

Impressions

Booting up is noticeably faster on 20.04, and Ubuntu has never looked better. From the redesigned login screen to a much-needed visual refresh by way of the new “Yaru” theme, 20.04 looks like the most polished version of the OS yet. An up to date version of the GNOME desktop environment delivers speed improvements in general usage, so this version of Ubuntu feels like a real upgrade.

A screenshot of my desktop

Everything works out of the box for me with no fixes needed, which is as you might hope upgrading from LTS to LTS, but certainly not guaranteed when forcing the upgrade early like I did.

I only needed to tweak a couple of default settings to get everything to my liking:

  1. My home folder and the recycle bin had icons on the desktop post-upgrade, and it took me a while to find out how to remove them. In 18.04 a “Desktop” section in the GNOME Tweaks application allowed the icons to be toggled on or off, and those toggles have moved in to a separate Extensions app in 20.04. Before removing them, I noticed the icons have a tendency to slip underneath the dock while the “auto-hide dock” setting is active, which is probably a bug that will be fixed at some point.
  2. I was thrown by not being able to alt-tab through all open applications - only applications that are open in the currently-active workspace are visible in the alt-tab switcher. This is probably a user preference that I set years ago and forgot about, and was quickly fixed by running gsettings set org.gnome.shell.app-switcher current-workspace-only false in a terminal session.

Wrapping Up

This was actually the first time I’ve used the updater to upgrade to a new OS version - back in 2009 when I first starting using Linux, the consensus seemed to be that upgrades were unnecessarily risky and that you were better off with a clean install to reduce the odds of something breaking. I got in the habit of always installing new versions from scratch, but after a problem-free experience upgrading Ubuntu from 18.04 to 20.04, I’ll likely do it this way from now on. 10 years is a long time in software, and it looks like the upgrade process is quite painless these days.

Ubuntu 20.04 performs well and looks fantastic. It’s well worth upgrading to.