Ubuntu is one of the most popular desktop Linux distributions, and it serves as the base for countless other desktop operating systems, like Linux Mint and Elementary OS. There are two major releases of Ubuntu each year, and right on schedule, Ubuntu 21.10 “Impish Indri” has just been released. The last major Ubuntu release was 21.04, dubbed “Hirsute Hippo”.

Ubuntu 21.10 is not a Long-Term Support (LTS) release, so it will only be updated for the next nine months. If you don’t want to upgrade regularly or prefer stability over new features, Ubuntu 20.04 is the current LTS release and will receive updates until April 2025. Impish Indri is the final interim release before the next LTS release, scheduled for April 2022. Developers can use Ubuntu 21.10 to future-proof their work for the next LTS, which will be supported until at least 2032.

“As open source becomes the new default, we aim to bring Ubuntu to all the corners of the enterprise and all the places developers want to innovate,” said Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth. “From the biggest public clouds to the tiniest devices, from DGX servers to Windows WSL workstations, open source is the springboard for new ideas and Ubuntu makes that springboard safe, secure and consistent.”

Ubuntu 21.10 changes

GNOME 40 and snap statistics

The GNOME 40 desktop environment makes an arrival, gaining dynamic workspaces and touchpad gestures. There’s also Firefox as a Snap application, and Canonical says that the number of snaps published in the store has grown by 25%. The snap store now serves over 10 million systems daily. There is also out-of-the-box support for graphical applications on the Windows Subsystem for Linux.

WSL Ubuntu 21.10

WSL Ubuntu 21.10

Ubuntu 21.10 brings PHP 8, GCC 11, and other developer-focused features

Ubuntu has a major focus on developers, and the all-new PHP 8 and GCC 11 work out of the box in this version. PHP 8 was released in June of this year, and its most exciting feature is the inclusion of a just-in-time (JIT) compiler. In theory, the addition of JIT should make considerable improvements to performance in certain situations. Previously, PHP used Opcache, and you can read more about what the inclusion of a JIT compiler means for PHP online.

Ubuntu 21.10 offers Apache Cassandra as a snap package, and MicroK8s can be used to install Kubernetes quickly and easily.

Linux Kernel 5.13

Ubuntu 21.10 brings version 5.13 of the Linux Kernel, adding support for Kernel Electric Fence (KFENCE). KFENCE is a new run-time memory error detector designed for production environments, keeping overhead low while still detecting the most common memory errors. It’s enabled by default, and Ubuntu 21.10 will randomize the memory location of the kernel stack at each system-call entry on both amd64 and arm64 architectures.

Download

Ubuntu 21.10 is available for download from Canonical for 64-bit x86 PCs. There are also system images for the Raspberry Pi.