The new version of Ubuntu, 22.04 AKA “Jammy Jellyfish,” changes the way Mozilla Firefox is packaged in a way that critics say slows down performance.
Canonical has finally released the latest version of its popular Ubuntu Linux distribution, 22.04 LTS, dubbed “Jammy Jellyfish.” The system includes some major changes, including a controversial one to how the Mozilla Firefox browser is packaged.
The Controversy Over Firefox Snap in Ubuntu 22.04
In previous Ubuntu versions, Mozilla Firefox was a .deb package as part of the APT package management system used in the Debian and Ubuntu family of distributions.
With 22.04, Firefox is now a Snap package. Snap is an alternative package management scheme developed by Ubuntu developer Canonical. With Snap, programs can be distributed with all their dependencies in one large package. This is in contrast to the traditional practice of shipping programs by themselves and leaving it to the distribution’s package managers to include the shared libraries these programs rely on.
While this makes it easier for developers to distribute software, some users have complained that it makes complex programs like Firefox larger and slower to launch compared to the old APT package.
This change was made at the request of Mozilla, according to an Ubuntu Discourse post by Canonical engineering manager Kan VanDine back in September 2021. The request was made in order to reduce the strain of supporting platforms while allowing Mozilla to push out changes to Firefox sooner.
Both Mozilla and Canonical have worked to transition Firefox from APT to Snap. Canonical had previously moved Chromium, the open-source counterpart to Google Chrome, from APT to Snap as well.
What Else Is New In Ubuntu 22.04?
Aside from the controversial change to Firefox, there are a number of improvements under the hood.
There are newer versions of the kernel, including version 5.17 on supported hardware. Ubuntu 22.04 also includes GNOME 42 as the default desktop, which debuts some new default apps as well as an enhanced dark mode. Ubuntu has customized GNOME with its own theme that includes a stylized version of a Jellyfish in keeping with the “Jammy Jellyfish” branding.
Interested users can download the latest version as an ISO image from the download section of the Ubuntu website, while Canonical has advised existing users who want to upgrade their systems from 20.04 to sit tight for a couple of days while they sort out some last-minute bugs, according to the release notes.
Ubuntu 22.04 is an “LTS” or “Long-Term Support” release, meaning that it will receive updates for five years from its release date. It follows the previous LTS version, 20.04 released in April 2020, by two years.
Ubuntu 22.04 Marches On, Despite the Firefox Controversy
Despite the uproar over the change to Firefox, Ubuntu has continued its tradition of regular updates; one reason that it remains a favorite in the Linux world. Despite its regularity, Canonical has also made an alternate rolling-release version with more frequent updates available, called “Rolling Rhino,” mimicking the cadence of some rival distributions like Arch Linux.
How to Switch to Ubuntu Rolling Rhino: A Rolling Release Version of Ubuntu
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