A beta build of Ubuntu 23.10 is now available to download.
This development milestone is intended for testing and feedback. It comes ahead of the scheduled stable release of Ubuntu 23.10 on October 12 – a mere 3 weeks away!
It’s aim is to allow you and I to kick the proverbial tyres, hunt down bugs, and file reports for any irksome issues we encounter.
Given that Ubuntu 23.10 is a short-term release (supported for 9 months) but the last before the next long-term support appears, developers have tried to squeeze a lot in.
Thus, Mantic’s development cycle has been an eventful one to say the least!
New in Ubuntu 23.10
A big change: the default Ubuntu 23.10 install option — i.e. the one most people will leave selected as they mush the ‘next’ button in the installer – is now minimal. This comes with the bare essentials: a web browser, a terminal client, a text editor, and a means of installing more apps.
If you want a wide range of software available in your install, including LibreOffice, Thunderbird, Rhythmbox, GNOME Calendar, Archive Manager, heck even the Totem video player you’ll now need to make sure you check the ‘expanded installation’ option.
GNOME 45 is at the heart of Ubuntu 23.10. Most of the GNOME 45 features I mentioned recently are here, including the new dynamic workspace indicator, keyboard backlight toggle, updated Settings panels, and faster Nautilus file manager with full-height sidebar.
Ubuntu 23.10 ships (as planned) with the Tiling Assistant GNOME extension preinstalled. This brings advanced window tiling capabilities, including quarter tiling, to the desktop. Just drag windows by their titlebar to the sides or corners of the screen to take advantage.
A new Fultter-based App Center assumes software management duties, taking over from the GNOME Software-based Ubuntu Software. The new store has a lean, clean design, is responsive in use, and lets you search for and install Snaps (default) or Deb packages by using a filter.
A new Flutter-based firmware updater tool is included. I wrote about this app an eon ago so it’s nice to finally see it takes a place in the default install. Sidenote: like App Center the new firmware tool is a preinstalled snap so if you remove
snapd you’ll remove it too – c’est la vie!
Ubuntu 23.10 is powered by Linux kernel 6.5 (with Ubuntu patches on top). This brings better performance and power efficiency on AMD Ryzen Zen 2 and up; enables AMD FreeSync by default; faster parallel direct I/O overwrites in EXT4; and rumble support in Xbox controllers.
The (Flutter-based) Ubuntu installer — though I’ve not done the research to prove it — seems far less finicky in Mantic. In Lunar I regularly had issues (post release) with the installer flipping itself vertically, or failing to complete an install successive times. None of that here – what a relief!
Experimental TPM-backed disk encryption is now available from the Advanced features button in the installer. Though promising from a security POV the TPM option has some drawbacks, like not supporting proprietary NVIDIA graphics drivers, dual boots, and more – don’t choose it idly.
Additionally, after a bit of an hiatus it’s once again possible to install Ubuntu using ZFS (Zettabyte File System). Nice to see this interesting, featured file system back – especially since many Linux distributions swerve supporting it at all.
For now here’s a top-level overview of what’s new and improved in Ubuntu 23.10:
- Ubuntu 23.10 uses Linux kernel 6.5
- Includes GNOME 45 and many of its features
- Tiling Assistant extension pre-installed for quarter tiling etc
- Default install is now minimal (no LibreOffice, Thunderbird, etc)
- Expanded install option added to installer
- GNOME Clocks added to expanded install software set
- New App Center for finding & installing software
- New Flutter-based Firmware Updater tool
- Network Manager uses Netplan as settings backend
- Experimental TPM-backed disk encryption option in installer
- ZFS install option added to installer
- Noto fonts replace DejaVu Sans
- Raspberry Pi build now supports official Raspberry Pi camera modules
Core software available (repo versions unless noted) include:
- Mozilla Firefox 117 (snap)
- Thunderbird 115.2
- LibreOffice 7.6.1
- Shotwell 0.32.2
- Transmission 4.0.2
Also on board:
- Linux kernel 6.5
- Mesa 23.1.7
- BlueZ 5.68
- NetworkManager 1.44
- Pipewire 0.3.79
And that’s just about it!
The Things That Didn’t Happen
Initially, the plan was for the new minimal default install to be the only option. Devs rethought that approach; apps like LibreOffice were added back to the ISO (thus making them available in live sessions) and an ‘expanded installation’ option added to the installer – to my relief if no-one else’s!
Devs also wanted to use deb822 sources by default for all repos in Mantic. Alas, owing to issues in the
software-properties app, that was revised. At present, Mantic only uses deb822 sources files for PPAs and not the main Ubuntu repos — a SRU will migrate those sometime after release.
CUPS (the desktop printing stack) got switched to Snap but, again, pesky bugs put paid to that plan. The CUPS Snap is now likely to be made default in next year’s Ubuntu 24.10 release (as Ubuntu 24.04 will be a long-term support release and a major change like a CUPS Snap needs proper testing).
Download Ubuntu 23.10 Beta
As with anything labelled a ‘beta’ you probably shouldn’t install this beta candidate as your primary OS on your main computer. Curiosity is expected; if you want to try the Ubuntu 23.10 beta first-hand, play it safe by booting it from a USB drive or installing it in a virtual machine.
You can download Ubuntu 23.10 beta from the Ubuntu release server right now.
As a reminder: you can upgrade the Ubuntu beta to the final release. Simply install every update released between now and release day and, like magic, you’ll have be running the same Mantic Minotaur as those who doing a fresh install.