It's almost the fourth month of the year. You know what that means. A new Ubuntu release is upon us. This time around, the release number is 17.04 and the name is Zesty Zapus. For those that don't know, a zapus is a genus of North American jumping mice and the only extant mammal with a total of 18 teeth.
Which means the zapus is quite unique. Does that translate over to the upcoming release of one of the most popular Linux distributions on the planet (currently listed as fourth on Distrowatch)? Let's find out.
Are we at Unity 8 yet?
There's a saying bandied about the internet these days that the "official" release date of Unity 8/Mir equals the Current Release+1. In other words, no one knows when the next iteration of the Unity desktop will appear. Unfortunately, that saying applies here; which, in turn, means there's very little to get excited about with Zesty Zapus. Suffice it to say, there will be no Unity 8/Mir this time around.
Consider this: Ubuntu 16.10 was the seventh attempt at a pre-release of Unity 8, and it failed to deliver a working product. That's a long run of attempts. So long, in fact, one wonders why the whole idea hasn't been scrapped so all that attention could be focused on perfecting what Unity already is: a solid desktop that would be exponentially better by now (had so much effort not have been given to an already failed mobile platform and its subsequent convergence).
Seriously, I think it's fairly safe to say that the Ubuntu Phone (aka Touch) platform is a non-starter. I've tried (on so many occasions) to use Touch. I wanted to love it; truth be told, I would have been happy to just like it. Alas, I found the platform dreadful to use.
Okay, we get it. No Unity 8 for the foreseeable future. But what about the upcoming release of Ubuntu? What will we see? Here's the short list (and it is quite short).
Swapping the partition for the file
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The biggest change coming to Ubuntu 17.04 is a move away from the old tried-and-true swap partition. In favor of the swap partition, Ubuntu is making the switch over to the swap file. On paper this makes sense, as systems are running with considerable resources now and a swap partition twice the size of available RAM doesn't really make much sense. In fact, most modern systems have enough RAM such that swap is rarely used. It's doubtful users will see any increase in performance with this. And if you use the LVM (Logical Volume Manager) option, this change will not apply.
So long gconf
For the longest time, the gconf tool was one of the best ways to get really deep into the muck and mire of configuring anything GNOME. Ubuntu 17.04 is finally doing away with that long-in-the-tooth app, in favor of gsettings. Of course, gsettings isn't a new application, by any stretch of the imagination. Gsettings is also a command line-only tool. To get a GUI front end, you'll have to install dconf-editor (sudo apt-get install dconf-editor). For most users (at least average users), this will not come into play.