Ubuntu 16.04 is now the latest and most advanced version of the Ubuntu OS, which has been dubbed Xenial Xerus by Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth. It is an LTS (Long Term Support) release that will receive updates and security patches for five years, during which multiple point releases will be made available (Ubuntu 16.04.1, Ubuntu 16.04.2, etc.).
Best of all, Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) uses a long-term supported Linux kernel, version 4.4, which will also receive security updates and bug fixes for a few more years than a normal kernel release would. And when Linux kernel 4.4 LTS reaches end of life, Canonical will most certainly continue to support it until the end of life of the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS operating system, until the year 2021, that is.
Visual changes in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS
First, take the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS visual tour now! Visually speaking, not much has changed since the previous release of Ubuntu Linux, with the exception of some small graphical tweaks to icons and the Unity interface, which can now integrate itself with the file manager and devices, supports the formatting of removable devices from quicklist, and provides support for GTK applications that use headerbars.
The switcher and spread backends have received multiple improvements, users can now activate app spread using the Super+Ctrl+W keyboard shortcut, and the Unity control center option now always shows menus. Then, GNOME key grabbing has been improved as well, and there are also new Unity Dash overlay scrollbars, along with better Unity Dash theming support. Online searches in the Dash are now disabled by default for privacy.
Canonical implemented support for scaling cursors in HiDPI (High Dots Per Inch) environments for the Unity interface, and it also looks like there's better HiDPI support in the login manager. Unity now displays the launching state of the icons in the Launcher when the respective application is launched on a different workspace, and you can now finally move the Unity Launcher to the bottom of the screen.
Under the hood of Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, updated apps
We've been using Ubuntu 16.04 LTS for a few months now, and taking a closer look under its hood, we can notice that most if not all of the included packages have been updated to their latest version at the moment of the launch. For example, the OS ships with LibreOffice 5.1.2, Mozilla Firefox 45.0.2, Python 3.5, OpenSSH 7.2p2, PHP 7.0, MySQL 5.7, GCC 5.3, Binutils 2.26, Glibc 2.23, Apt 1.2, and most of the GNOME 3.18 Stack.
All the pre-installed packages have been ported to use the WebKit2 engine. Ubuntu 16.04 LTS is also the first Ubuntu release to no longer include the Ubuntu Software Center package manager created by Canonical, which has been replaced with the GNOME Software app from the GNOME Stack, but renamed to Ubuntu Software to not confuse the crowd. Moreover, GNOME Calendar is included by default, and Brasero and Empathy apps have been removed.
"The fglrx driver is now deprecated in 16.04, and we recommend its open source alternatives (Radeon and AMDGPU). AMD put a lot of work into the drivers, and we backported kernel code from Linux 4.5 to provide a better experience. When upgrading to Ubuntu 16.04 from a previous release, both the fglrx driver and the xorg.conf will be removed, so that the system is set to use either the AMDGPU driver or the Radeon driver (depending on the available hardware)," said Canonical.
Lastly, there's now support for installing snap packages, and it appears that more languages are supported by default for new Ubuntu 16.04 LTS installations. You can download the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) Live ISO images for 64-bit and 32-bit PCs right now via our website or directly from the ubuntu.com website, or if you upgrade from a previous release, please check our Ubuntu 14.04 LTS and Ubuntu 15.10 upgrade tutorials.