Ubuntu 24.04 LTS, Noble Numbat, overhauls its installation and app experience

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Ubuntu desktop running on a laptop on a 3D-rendered desktop, with white polygonal coffee mug and picture frame nearby.
Enlarge / Ubuntu has come a long way over nearly 20 years, to the point where you can now render 3D Ubuntu coffee mugs and family pictures in a video announcing the 2024 spring release.

Canonical

History might consider the most important aspect of Ubuntu 24.04 to be something that it doesn’t have: vulnerabilities to the XZ backdoor that nearly took over the global Linux scene.

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Betas, and the final release of Ubuntu 24.04, a long-term support (LTS) release of the venerable Linux distribution, were delayed, as backing firm Canonical worked in early April 2024 to rebuild every binary included in the release. xz Utils, an almost ubiquitous data-compression package on Unix-like systems, had been compromised through a long-term and elaborate supply-chain attack, discovered only because a Microsoft engineer noted some oddities with SSH performance on a Debian system. Ubuntu, along with just about every other regularly updating software platform, had a lot of work to do this month.

Canonical’s Ubuntu 24.04 release video, noting 20 years of Ubuntu releases. I always liked the brown.

What is actually new in Ubuntu 24.04, or “Noble Numbat?” Quite a bit, especially if you’re the type who sticks to LTS releases. The big new changes are a very slick new installer, using the same Subiquity back-end as the Server releases, and redesigned with a whole new front-end in Flutter. ZFS encryption is back as a default install option, along with hardware-backed (i.e., TPM) full-disk encryption, plus more guidance for people looking to dual-boot with Windows setups and BitLocker. Netplan 1.0 is the default network configuration tool now. And the default installation is “Minimal,” as introduced in 23.10.

The numbat is an <a href=
Enlarge / The numbat is an endangered species, and I think we should save it.

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Raspberry Pi gets some attention, too, with an edition of 24.04 (64-bit only) available for the popular single-board computer, including the now-supported Raspberry Pi 5 model. That edition includes power supply utility Pemmican and enables 3D acceleration in the Firefox Snap. Ubuntu also tweaked the GNOME (version 46) desktop included in this release, such that it should see better performance on Raspberry Pi graphics drivers.

What else? Lots of little things:

  • Support for autoinstall, i.e., YAML-based installation workflows
  • A separate, less background-memory-eating firmware updating tool
  • Additional support for Group Policy Objects (GPOs) in Active Directory environments
  • Security improvements to Personal Package Archives (PPA) software setups
  • Restrictions to unprivileged user namespace through apparmor, which may impact some third-party apps downloaded from the web
  • A new Ubuntu App Center, replacing the Snap Store that defaults to Snaps but still offers traditional .deb installs (and numerous angles of critique for Snap partisans)
  • Firefox is a native Wayland application, and Thunderbird is a Snap package only
  • More fingerprint reader support
  • Improved Power Profiles Manager, especially for portable AMD devices
  • Support for Apple’s preferred HEIF/HEIC files, with thumbnail previews
  • Snapshot replaces Cheese, and GNOME games has been removed
  • Virtual memory mapping changes that make many modern games run better through Proton, per OMG Ubuntu
  • Linux kernel 6.8, which, among other things, improves Intel Meteor Lake CPU performance and supports Nintendo Switch Online controllers.

The suggested system requirements for Ubuntu 24.04 are a 2 GHz dual-core processor, 4GB memory, and 25GB free storage space. There is a dedicated WSL edition of 24.04 out for Windows systems.

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