With the end of the year, and indeed the decade, fast approaching I’ve been spending my time looking backwards, getting all misty-eyed and nostalgic about Ubuntu and how far its come since 2010.

The past 10 years have given us 20 individual Ubuntu releases including 5 long-term support ones

But one question has been niggling away at me while reminiscing and that is: what is the best Ubuntu release of the past ten years?

Now, the past 10 years has given us a lot; there have been 20 Ubuntu releases, including 5 LTS ones encompassing 3 distinct desktop environments, 2 major open source office suites, and a Budgie flavour in a pear tree.

There’s stuff that’s gone… Upstart? False start! Unity? Disbanded! Ubuntu One? Cancelled! Mir? Now tracking a new orbit!

And there’s stuff that’s arrived… Snappy? Snazzy! Yaru? Woo-hoo! ZFS? Oh yes! Wayland? Way cool!

Yet even all of that lot is merely a superficial scratch on the thick ended wedge of change.

Best Ubuntu Release This Decade?

ubuntu 18.04 LTS on a laptop

Thing is …Who cares what I think, right? I’m just a random internet guy with a poorly named blog whose typos often make more sense than his posts.

Which version of Ubuntu do you fondly remember using and enthusing about? Which distro update did you not want to upgrade from?

But that guy wants to know which Ubuntu release between 2010 and 2019 is your absolute, all-time, most-admired favourite!

I’m talking the one you remember using and enthusing about; the distro update you didn’t want to upgrade from; the release that made you a card-carrying member of the real club penguin.

And with 20 — yes, 20 — releases to choose from you’re kind of spoilt for choice! 💅

I did debate limiting the poll to just LTS releases.

However, that would some notable “interim” releases like Ubuntu 10.10 (final pre-Unity) and Ubuntu 19.10 (best version of Ubuntu since the GNOME Shell switch) wouldn’t be represented — and that’s crazy.

Ubuntu Release Recap

Having a hard time remembering most of the the past 20 Ubuntu releases? That’s good news: those clearly aren’t the ones you want to vote for 😛.

But below, just incase you need it, you’ll find a concise overview of the past twenty releases with key changes, highlights, and new features mention. Though this isn’t exhaustive, if should help refresh your memory and nudge you towards selecting a candidate to back!

If you’re ready to cast your vote now, click here to jump to the poll embed.

Firefox 3.6 in Ubuntu 10.04

Ubuntu 10.04 LTS “Lucid Lynx” introduced a whole new look for the distro, including a new GTK theme, Plymouth boot splash, and new Ubuntu logo. Window buttons were moved to the left, and the “Me Menu” concept introduced. GIMP was removed from the default install, and Pitivi was added. A ‘Netbook Edition’ was also released.

Ubuntu 10.10 “Maverick Meerkat” was the final version of Ubuntu to use the GNOME 2-based desktop environment. It introduced the Sound Menu. Shotwell replaced F-Spot as photo manager, Ubuntu Software added support for paid applications, and the Ubuntu Font was introduced. Unity debuted in the ‘Netbook Edition’.

The Unity desktop shipped as default in Ubuntu 11.04 “Natty Narwhal”. Banshee becomes detail music player, LibreOffice replaced OpenOffice, and Mozilla Firefox 4 was included. Overlay scrollbars were introduced and the Netbook Edition was discontinued.

Unity in Ubuntu 11.04

In Ubuntu 11.10 “Oneiric Ocelot” the “Ubuntu button” (used to open the Dash) was added the top of the Unity Launcher. Global menu and window controls were embedded into the top panel, set to hide by default. The LightDM login handler was introduced.

On the apps front, the user-friendly video editor Pitivi was removed, Evolution was replaced by Mozilla Thunderbird, and backup tool Deja Dup added. A fallback “Unity 2D” session was also included for use on low powered devices.

For Ubuntu 12.04 LTS “Precise Pangolin” Canonical committed to five years of on-going support for desktop versions. The Unity HUD was introduced for fast menu searching. Rhythmbox returned as default music player. And chameleonic theming of the Unity UI introduced.

Ubuntu 12.10 “Quantal Quetzal” introduced the controversial “Shopping Lens” to the default install, as well as (at the time) innovative web app integration. Unity 2D was discontinued. This release was the first version of Ubuntu to not fit on a blank CD (700MB).

Ubuntu 13.04 “Raring Ringtail’ dropped WUBI as a supported install method. The desktop saw minor changes, as focus switched to Ubuntu TV and Ubuntu for Phones, though did include an improved Ubuntu One sync menu.

Ubuntu 13.10 “Saucy Salamander” release was notable for introducing Smart Scopes, which aimed to return “relevant” results from a myriad of online and local sources based on the content of the query. The 64-bit .iso became the default download.

The release of Ubuntu 14.04 LTS “Trusty Tahr” was focused on stability and refinement but introduced a couple of notable changes, including an off switch for global menus, a new “Unity Control Centre”, and SSD TRIMM support by default.

The most notable “fact” about Ubuntu 14.10 “Utopic Unicorn” is that it’s — to date — it’s the only version of Ubuntu not to come with its own, custom wallpaper.

Of note, Ubuntu 15.05 “Vivid Vervet” swapped from upstart to systemd, while the Ubuntu 15.10 “Wiley Werewolf” dropped Unity’s overlay scrollbars.

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS “Xenial Xerus” introduced an optional Unity 8 session, disabled Smart Scopes by default, and was the first Ubuntu release to support the Snap software format. The Ubuntu Software Centre tool was replaced with a fork of GNOME Software. IM client Empathy and disc writing tool Brasero were dropped from the app lineup.

Ubuntu 16.10 “Yakkety Yak” and Ubuntu 17.04 “Zesty Zapus” were virtually identical save for the former adding change-logs for PPAs to the Update Manager and the latter being the final version of Ubuntu to use the Unity desktop environment.

Ubuntu 17.10 “Artful Aardvark” introduced GNOME Shell as the default desktop environment (rounded out by a handful of GNOME Extensions).

The Ubuntu 18.04 LTS “Bionic Beaver” release added a new minimal install option to the OS installer and a new Ubuntu Welcome tool to the desktop. Nautilus got an unusual new look, and several new apps were included.

Ubuntu 18.10 “Cosmic Cuttlefish” and Ubuntu 19.04 “Disco Dingo” were both iterative releases improving on the foundations of what went before, though the latter did debut with a new GTK theme inspired by the Unity 8 desktop environment.

Finally, we come to Ubuntu 19.10, the most recent Ubuntu release. The “Eoan Ermine” ships with an impressive set of performance updates, NVIDIA drivers on the ISO, and some considered UI enhancements, including app folder creation in the launcher screen and USB mounts on the Ubuntu Dock.

The poll itself

In the poll below you can vote for your favourite release. The poll will be open for 10 days, ending on the day of the winter solstice (Dec 22).

This poll is powered by CrowdSignal, owned by Automattic, makers of WordPress, which this site runs on.

While you’re giving feedback, do go fill out the Ubuntu 20.04 Survey too!
Poll best of 2019 poll ubuntu 18.04 LTS