Ubuntu 21.04 is due for release on April 22, 2021. It will be the latest stable release of Ubuntu, succeeding Ubuntu 20.10 which was released last October.

Discover when Ubuntu 21.04 will be released and what new features it will include

Development on Ubuntu 21.04 is now drawing to a close so we have a good idea of what to expect from the release that Ubuntu developers have dubbed the “Hirsute Hippo”.

In this post we rundown everything we know: from when Ubuntu 21.04 is released, to how long its supported for, and the new features it includes.

Plus, there’s a link to download the recent Ubuntu 21.04 beta so you can try the release out yourself, ahead of its proper release later this month.

Ubuntu 21.04 ‘Hirsute Hippo’

A Hirsute Hippo

The Ubuntu 21.04 codename is ‘Hirsute Hippo’. There’s not an awful lot of subtext to glean from this choice, but such a vivid and imaginative adjective + animal combo will ensure that the mascot art and new default wallpaper is suitably iconic!

Ubuntu 21.04 is supported for 9 months from release with bug fixes, security patches, and critical app updates. Support ends in January 2022. The recommend ‘upgrade’ path from Ubuntu 21.04 is to Ubuntu 21.10.

Fact fans may be interested to know while 21.04 is the 24th Ubuntu release overall it’s the third version to carry a codename beginning with the letter ‘H’. But can you name the other two? Answers in the comments, folks! 😉

Ubuntu 21.04: Release Date

The Ubuntu 21.04 release date is April 22, 2021. This date is listed on Launchpad, the home of Ubuntu development:

A quick overview of the Hirsute Hippo release schedule:

  • Feature Freeze: February 25, 2021
  • UI Freeze: March 18, 2021
  • Ubuntu 21.04 Beta: April 1, 2021
  • Kernel Freeze: April 8, 2021
  • Release Candidate: April 15, 2021

These dates are (as ever) subject to change.

Ubuntu 21.04: New Features

If you came here to find out what new features Ubuntu 21.04 comes with you’re in luck — but we’re going to start with a few things you definitely WON’T find in the release first.

For instance, Ubuntu 21.04 will NOT include GNOME 40. New Ubuntu releases typically include the newest GNOME release. Alas, not this time it won’t. Why? Well, GNOME 40 features several bold design changes that Ubuntu devs feel they need more time to digest and plan for. Ubuntu 21.10 is expected to have GNOME 40 or 41.

Don’t Miss GNOME 40: The Best New Features

Secondly, there’s no no GTK4 in Ubuntu 21.04 either, at least not by default. GTK3 remains king. This is less of a surprise as there aren’t many apps currently using GTK4 fully (at least at the time of writing).

However, it’s not all bad news.

Updated versions of many preinstalled apps are available in 21.04, including new releases of the GNOME image viewer, the Characters app, disk usage analyser, GVFS, and many more. While Nautilus (the file manager), Calendar, and Terminal remain on their respective GNOME 3.38 versions they do carry bug fixes.

Will it be possible to install GNOME 40 on Ubuntu 21.04? Possibly. Your best hope is to hold out for a PPA packaging it to appear. This is likely as it gives Ubuntu developers the chance to test and iterate on upstream changes in-situ ahead of the next Ubuntu release, Ubuntu 21.10.

We’ll (naturally) let you know the moment such GNOME 40 PPA appears — so be sure to follow!

A Modest Collection of Changes

Ubuntu 21.04 dark theme
Ubuntu 21.04 dark theme

As we covered recently, Ubuntu 21.04 makes the home folder private by default. This long overdue change ensures new Ubuntu installs are as safe and secure as they can be for users, with non-encrypted home folders no longer ‘world readable’.

Ubuntu developers have announced that Ubuntu 21.04 will use Wayland by default to allow broader testing ahead of the next LTS.

It’s also been decided that GNOME Shell in Hirsute will default to a dark theme, though applications will continue to sport the ‘mixed’ GTK theme of light widgets and dark header bars. There are a handful of other theme tweaks too.

Ubuntu 21.04 desktop
Ubuntu 21.04 is powered by Linux 5.11

Ubuntu 21.04 comes with an improved desktop icons implementation that — finally — supports drag and drop to and from the file manager (as well as other apps). It also has more settings than the old desktop icons extension.

These and other changes to expect in Ubuntu 21.04:

  • Wayland as default session
  • Private home directory
  • Linux 5.11 kernel
  • Dark theme by default
  • New desktop icons extension
  • LibreOffice 7.1
  • Python 3.9 by default

We update this post as new features are revealed and other changes occur. If there’s a change we’ve missed do let us know about it via the contact form.

Download Ubuntu 21.04

You can download Ubuntu 21.04 beta below. It comes as a 64-bit .iso image that you can burn to a blank DVD or write to a USB drive of 4GB in size or more.

Download Ubuntu 21.04 Beta (64-bit .iso)

Beta builds of Ubuntu are not final, stable, polished, or feature complete. While they do give you an easy way to check in with (and help test out) upcoming releases they should not be used as your primary OS — not unless you’re brave enough to fix any issues that result!

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