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Ubuntu 16.04 LTS is available to download! Let's take a look at the most important new features and changes in this long term release.

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) Video

As usual, here's a video showing some of the most important desktop changes in Ubuntu 16.04 (with Unity):

(direct video link; for more videos, subscribe to the WebUpd8 YouTube channel)

Unity / Compiz changes in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) whips with a major new feature for Unity: the ability to move the Unity Launcher and Dash to the bottom of the screen:

Ubuntu 16.04 screenshots

Ubuntu 16.04 screenshots

Ubuntu 16.04 screenshots

Ubuntu 16.04 doesn't ship with an option in System Settings to control the Launcher position and for this, you'll have to use Dconf Editor (com > canonical > unity > launcher > launcher-position) or a third-party tool such as Unity Tweak Tool.

With Ubuntu 16.04, online searches in Dash are disabled by default. Users can still enable this feature from System Settings > Security & Privacy:

Another new Unity feature available with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS is file manager integration for the Unity Launcher:

Every device icon on the Launcher now manages its relative window, while the files (Nautilus) icon matches the other views. For instance, if you click on the Trash (or USB devices, etc.) icon, the Nautilus window that opens is managed from the Trash icon, and not from the Nautilus icon from the Launcher.

Also, with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, applications that use header bars look better under Unity (they have shadows, the windows are resizable, etc.). However, there are still issues with the window corners for some applications. For instance, here's GNOME Calendar and GNOME Clocks:

Other Unity / desktop changes in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS:
  • Dash now uses GTK-like overlay scrollbars instead of the old, Unity overlay scrollbars design;
  • better Dash theming support;
  • session actions (shutdown, reboot, etc.) are now available from Unity Dash
  • the option to change menu visibility (displayed on mouse hovering or always visible) is now available in System Settings (Appearance > Behavior tab) so you no longer need to use dconf Editor or other third-party tools to change this;
  • GNOME Software (which is provided to the users as "Ubuntu Software") now integrates with Unity Launcher, in the same way Ubuntu Software Center did (it places newly installed app icons on the Launcher, with a progress bar as the application is being installed);
  • support for scaling cursors in HiDPI environments;
  • the Unity workspace switcher now uses quicklists that allows switching to a certain workspace;
  • the option to format USB devices via Unity quicklists has returned;
  • the Unity application window spread (so for an application that has multiple open windows) can now be triggered using a keyboard shortcut: Super+Ctrl+W;
  • Controls are now hidden by default in the Ubuntu Sound Menu. They are only displayed when you start using a player that supports the Sound Menu;
  • the "Proposed" repository option was moved in Software & Updates from the "Other Software" tab to a new "Developer Options" tab, to make it clear that regular users shouldn't be using it.

Here are screenshots with some of these changes:

Defaults in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

In Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, Ubuntu Software Center was replaced with GNOME Software (which is advertised as "Ubuntu Software" - details here) as the default tool to install and discover new applications.

Ubuntu 16.04 screenshots

While GNOME Software (aka Ubuntu Software) supports updates, Ubuntu continues to use its own Software Updater tool for this.

Ubuntu 16.04 screenshots

Ubuntu 16.04 screenshots

And speaking of updates, Ubuntu 16.04 LTS will allow installing snap packages, while continuing to support the .deb format.

Snap packages will allow updating without having to worry about the impact on other applications or the system. That's because a snap package contains all of its dependencies. Also, snap packages are strictly confined and sandboxed, and support transitional updates.

More about snap updates in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, HERE.

Ubuntu Software Center wasn't the only app that was removed from the default installation with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS though. Empathy and Brasero were also removed, and no applications were added as replacements. As a result, Ubuntu 16.04 LTS ships without an instant messaging app and CD/DVD burning tool.

The Catalyst / fglrx video driver was also removed because it didn't support XServer 1.18, which is used in Ubuntu 16.04. More information about this, HERE. Both Ubuntu and AMD developers now recommend its open source alternatives (radeon and amdgpu), which include backported kernel code from Linux 4.5 to provide a better experience.

GNOME Calendar is new addition to the default Ubuntu application list. The application integrates with Online Accounts, supporting Google Calendar sync, along with other features, like adding calendars from files or remote URLs.

Despite being included by default with Ubuntu 16.04 (with Unity), GNOME Calendar wasn't patched to use a traditional titlebar and menu, like Totem, Nautilus, Gedit and so on, and instead, it uses header bars (also known as client-side decorations).

Ubuntu 16.04 apps

GNOME applications available by default in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS include:

  • Files (Nautilus) 3.14.3
  • (GNOME) Software 3.20.1
  • Calendar 3.20.1
  • Gedit 3.18.3
  • Totem 3.18.1
  • Terminal 3.18.3
  • Eye of GNOME (Image Viewer) 3.18.2
  • Evince 3.18.2
  • System Monitor 3.18.2
  • Disks 3.18.3

As you can see, Ubuntu 16.04 ships with GNOME 3.18 for the most part, with a few exceptions like Nautilus, which is still at version 3.14.3, but also with a few newer apps, like GNOME Software and Calendar (3.20.1).

Other default applications available in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS include Firefox 45.0.2, Thunderbird 38.6, LibreOffice 5.1.2, Transmission 2.84, Shotwell 0.22.0+git and Deja Dup 34.2, on top of Unity 7.4.0 (daily build as of April 15th) and GTK+ 3.18.9.

Under the hood, Ubuntu 16.04 LTS ships with Mesa 11.2.0, Xorg server 1.18.3 and the Ubuntu Linux Kernel 4.4.0-18.34, based on the upstream 4.4.6 Linux Kernel.

Download Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus)

If you installed Ubuntu 16.04 beta or a daily build and installed all the updates using the Update Manager, you're already running the final Ubuntu 16.04 LTS release, so there's no need to reinstall.

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS will be supported for 5 years. Some flavors may have a different support period - see the release notes for the flavor you want to use for more information.

Download Ubuntu 16.04 LTS | release notes (includes instructions for upgrading to Ubuntu 16.04)

Ubuntu 16.04 flavors download links / release notes:

You may also be interested in: Things To Do After Installing Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus)