Ubuntu 20.10 “Groovy Gorilla” was released on October 22, 2020, Gorilla tweaked a few minor changes instead of groundbreaking new features. As an interim release, it’s also out of long-term support. So is Groovy Gorilla worth the upgrade?
Developed but not groundbreaking
Groovy Gorilla has been officially released and once again, this is only a temporary release. Every two years, Canonical releases long-term support (LTS) version of Ubuntu for five years.
However, Canonical releases a new version of Ubuntu every six months. Each LTS release will include three interim releases before the next LTS release goes live. They collect changes and improvements before releasing the next LTS version.
These interim builds allow Canonical developers to gather feedback and conduct testing of their features. Temporary builds also give people the chance to get exposed to the latest, greatest version of the software.
The April 2020 release ( 20.04 “Focal Fossa” ) is the most recent LTS release, so six months later, Groovy Gorilla was launched and it didn’t deliver any surprises or breakthroughs. Gorilla has also made minor changes in Ubuntu.
Install: ZFS is no longer experimental
The Ubuntu Unity installer hasn’t changed significantly. The installation process is almost the same as on Ubuntu 20.04, and so is the black disk test screen.
But there is one notable change in the “Advanced Features” dialog box. The ZFS file system installation option no longer has the word “Experimental” next to it in capital letters. Canonical is confident in the endurance and they are already capable enough to deploy ZFS as the file system driver.
After installing Ubuntu 20.10 and logging in, you should see Groovy Gorilla, Ubuntu’s familiar purple tone.
GNOME Desktop Upgrade
Groovy Gorilla uses GNOME 3.38.0, the latest default version of the desktop environment on Ubuntu. Ubuntu has tweaked, as well as efforts to make the applications look like part of a linkable.
Move shortcuts in application groups
The “Applications” group used to have two views: “Frequent”, which shows your most popular apps, and “All”, listing all the apps. With GNOME 3.38.0, you only have one customizable view.
You can drag and rearrange the order of the app icons however you want. Alphabetical lists are no longer available. If you want the Firefox icon to be in the first place, just click and drag it to the position you want.
Grid (a group of apps) is also more aware of the screen and resolution. It can be adjusted to a reasonable icon ratio and group layout according to resolution and screen mode.
Dragging one icon over another creates a group, just like on your smartphone. For example, you can drag all LibreOffice icons into one group.
If you drop more than nine icons into a group, they’ll be paged for you to scroll or surf.
However, removing a group is not as easy as creating a group. To drag an icon out of the group, you have to open the group, click and drag the icon out, then “wave” the icon around the screen until the group closes.
You can then drop the icon onto the application grid. Sometimes, we have to “wave” the icon around the screen for four or five seconds before the group closes. However, this can be made easier in the official release of Ubuntu 20.10.
The calendar tool has also been updated. You can now see a notification about your calendar entries at the bottom of the window.
Reorganized the system menu
The system menu now has a “Restart” option. Previously, you could only access the “Restart” option by selecting “Power Off”.
Edit settings dialog
This isn’t a big change, but the following options in the “Settings” dialog have been renamed:
- “Universal Access” changed to “Access.”
- “Screen Displays” changed to “Displays.”
- “Device Color profiles” change to “Color.”
- “Language and Region” change to “Region and Language.”
Easy Wi-Fi hotspot configuration
The Wi-Fi tab in “Settings” allows you to use your computer as a Wi-Fi hotspot. If you scan the QR code with a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet, it will connect to your hotspot.
Many software has been updated to newer versions. Below are the version numbers of some major software:
- Thunderbird: 78.3.1
- LibreOffice: 126.96.36.199
- Firefox: 81.0.1
- Files: 3.38.0-stable
- GCC: 10.2.0
- OpenSSL : 1.1.1f
Some applications have also improved their interface so that they are more intuitive. For example, the Screenshot program is now an indispensable Ubuntu experience.
Unfortunately, the software interface stays closed after each screenshot, but the layout is much cleaner and easier to use.
Ubuntu 20.10 is released with Linux kernel version 5.8.0-20-generic. As usual, there are a host of new features in the Linux kernel, including better support for modern hardware devices.
Here is a shortlist of improvements:
- Graphics drivers and other enhancements are added for Qualcomm Adreno, Intel Tiger Lake, and Radeon.
- Supports AMD GPU Trusted Memory Zone.
- AMD Energy drivers.
- Supports Intel Tiger Lake System Agent Geyserville (SAGV).
- Supports Intel Tiger Lake Thunderbolt 4 for Intel SoC Gateway.
- Improved ARM System on a Chip (SoC).
- Supports booting with POWER10 processors.
- Patches have been added to the EXT4 file system.
- Improvements have been added to the Btrfs file system. Some major distributions (such as Fedora 33) will default to Btrfs in future releases.
Should you upgrade to Ubuntu 20.10?
I recommend most people to use Ubuntu 20.04 LTS for stability. Ubuntu 20.10 doesn’t offer any major improvements. Instead, it just shows that Ubuntu is still a solid foundation, and is making good progress towards the next LTS release in 2022.
Canonical estimates that 95% of Ubuntu installations are LTS versions. If that’s true, then the temporary builds will obviously not appeal to many Ubuntu users. Even if Canonical’s numbers are slightly skewed, it’s clear that the vast majority of users prefer stability and long-term support over the short-term benefits of temporary updates.
If you’re happy with Focal Fossa 20.04, do you accept the trouble (and potential risks) of upgrading just to get this update? Sure is not.