We’re a few weeks away from the final Ubuntu 22.04 release but first things first: a beta!

Yes, the Ubuntu 22.04 beta is now available to download. Its arrival gives developers and non-developers alike the chance to jump in and try the “Jammy Jellyfish” ahead of its planned stable release on April 21, 2022.

Although not usually recommended, you can install this Ubuntu 22.04 beta as your main OS and upgrade to the final, finished version (when it arrives). How? Just install all updates pushed out to the release from now until release, and you’ll have it — easy!

We’ll bring you a comprehensive rundown of what’s new in Ubuntu 22.04 closer to its release, but for a quick overview, read on!

Ubuntu 22.04 Beta Features

Ubuntu 22.04 beta
Meet the Jammy Jellyfish

Visually, Ubuntu 22.04 looks brighter and more modern than before.

Ubuntu 22.04 ships with the chunk of the recent GNOME 42 release, including the latest GNOME Shell. This builds on the user experience we got in GNOME 40 (which shipped in Ubuntu 21.10) with its horizontal workspace switcher and app launcher.

The switch to a ‘light’ GNOME Shell theme by default helps, as do the (many) changes made upstream by GNOME designers. As a result of their work Jammy touts compact menus and tooltips, a leaner calendar applet, and redesigned OSD (e.g., volume change, brightness) that take up less room on screen:

ubuntu 22.04 gnome shell theme changes
A lighter look for the Jammy Jellyfish

As Ubuntu’s adaptation of GNOME Shell includes a dock on the left-hand side of the screen (whereas vanilla GNOME Shell has one at the bottom). Work to “balance” the look of the overview took place this cycle. Workspaces are a smidgen smaller in the overview compared to 21.10, and benefit from more bottom padding. These tweaks fix the bottom-heavy look present in 21.10.

Ubuntu 22.04 beta: workspace overview
Ubuntu 22.04 beta: workspace overview

Ubuntu’s Yaru GTK theme carries some significant changes too, again inherited from upstream Adwaita/libadwaita. You’ll also notice a lot more orange throughout the system UI. Ubuntu’s design team have retired most of the purple accents previously used. Additionally, window controls are set farther apart and staged in circles.

As well as having a proper ‘light’ mode you can switch to a proper ‘dark mode’ via the newly expanded Appearance settings, with the GNOME Shell UI following suit.

The revamped Appearance panel is where you can access one of Ubuntu 22.04’s headline features: UI accent colours. Ten colours (including the default orange) are available here. Accent colour doesn’t just change the GNOME Shell and GTK theme as some icons also adjust colours to match too.

Ubuntu 22.04 beta: accent colors
Ubuntu 22.04 beta: red accent color selected

Courtesy of GNOME 42, Ubuntu 22.04 comes with a fantastic new screenshot experience. With a tap of the print screen key you can take screenshots and section grabs. And with a flick of a toggle you can capture screen recordings too.

Ubuntu 22.04 beta: new screenshot tool
Ubuntu 22.04 beta: new screenshot tool

Other visual tweaks include a new default wallpaper, a set of background images selected by Ubuntu forum members, and a couple of updated app icons — including a neat new icon for the Nautilus file manager.

Updated software installed includes LibreOffice 7.3, Thunderbird 91, and the latest version of Mozilla Firefox (which is now a Snap). A small number of GNOME 42 apps are available from the repo, including GNOME’s new Console and Text Editor tools for you to try out.

Nautilus 42 is included out of the box. As this is two versions higher than 21.10 there are a slew of changes, including a revamped path bar, a new path bar menu, a roomer file rename popover, and support for extracting password protected .zip archives.

The Snap Store (a fork of the GNOME Software 41, albeit lacking most of its benefits) is still the default software installer. It does gain slightly redesigned home page and some “mobile-friendly” resizing but… Eh: just apt install gnome-software for a better experience.

Linux 5.15 kernel is included, as well as Mesa 22 — great news for gamers and those with recent-ish hardware. Those with much older hardware, pre-Broadwell, may need to try a few workarounds. More will be known about how these machines fare as feedback from the beta filters in.

Some other changes:

  • Desktop context menu prettified
  • Desktop icons settings added to Settings > Appearance
  • Extra dock settings in Settings > Appearance
  • Improved performance in Mutter
  • Includes emoji from Unicode 14

There’s likely to be a few things I’ve missed, so if there’s a change I haven’t mentioned @ me in the comments and I’ll add it in!

A few things not included: the new Flutter-based installer, Flutter-based firmware tool, or Ubuntu Pro integration in the Software & Sources app.

Finally, do be aware that a change in GRUB means Ubuntu 22.04 is no longer able to ‘detect’ other OSes installed on a system — a fairly important feature for those on dual-boot systems! The fix is relatively simple — enable OS prober — but you’ll need to do this yourself, so check out the aforelinked guide.

Download Ubuntu 22.04 Beta

You can download Ubuntu 22.04 from the Ubuntu release server. There you can snag the latest beta .iso (weighing in at an jinormous 3.44 GB):

Okay, okay, okay: something else I should to get out the way first: If you currently use Ubuntu 20.04 LTS and you plan to upgrade to Ubuntu 22.04 in April (or August, which is when the LTS to LTS update notification is due to go out) then this post does not cover everything new to you. Our recaps of Ubuntu 20.10, 21.04, and 21.10 have more details on what else is new.

Download News beta Ubuntu 22.04 LTS