The most popular Linux distribution has just launched its latest version, Ubuntu 23.10 “Mantic Minotaur.”
At first glance, this update may seem light on notable features, but it paves the way for the future of the distribution, especially its next LTS version expected in spring 2024.
New kernel and desktop optimizations
First and foremost, the integration of Linux kernel 6.5 highlights Canonical’s (the company behind the Ubuntu project) strong intent to incorporate the latest kernel versions into its distributions.
This kernel update speeds up boot times thanks to modules compressed with zstd, while also optimizing the system for both Desktop and Server versions.
The GNOME 45 desktop environment is also making its debut in Ubuntu Mantic Minotaur.
It introduces changes such as a redesign of the activity indicator, enhanced camera management, and an improved user interface for settings and Nautilus, the default file manager of the distro.
A brand new app store
The Snap Store, which allowed developers to deliver their apps via the Snap packaging and deployment system, is replaced by the “App Center.”
Built with Google’s Flutter SDK, this new app store provides full access to all of Canonical’s Snap applications and also supports the DEB (Debian) package format.
This release takes an opportunity to elevate Ubuntu’s default security standards. The Mantic Minotaur kernel has been adjusted to require programs to have an AppArmor profile in order to use user namespaces without privileges.
A new full-disk encryption feature is also introduced in preview.
Hardware support and other updates
Ubuntu 23.10 broadens its hardware compatibility with the introduction of support for Raspberry Pi 5 and the SiFive HiFive Pro P550 motherboards (RISC-V).
Beyond hardware, the Ubuntu Desktop installer has also been updated, featuring the return of the much-anticipated (experimental) ZFS on root installation option. The minimal installation has also become the default installation option.
Mantic Minotaur comes equipped with the latest version of Docker, providing developers with updated tools for container management. Additionally, users will benefit from enhanced performance, security updates, and increased support for hardware architectures.
A release overshadowed by an incident
Last Thursday’s release was somewhat overshadowed by an incident regarding inappropriate Ukrainian translations, reflecting the current conflict in Israel.
According to a post on the Ubuntu community blog, a community contributor took advantage of the online service used by Canonical for linguistic support of the Ubuntu Desktop installer to insert these translations.
Only a few hours after the distribution’s release, the affected images were removed from the download page until a fix was deployed.
In response to this incident, Canonical reiterated its stance against any hate speech or offensive language, in line with its code of conduct. However, this incident has undoubtedly raised concerns about the distribution’s security.