Ubuntu 24.04: This great new Linux distro isn't just fast - it's a fortress

I'm running Canonical's latest release - aka 'Noble Numbat' - and find this distro's performance and security improvements make it an outstanding OS for everyone and every job.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor
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First things first. There really is such a thing as a numbat. It's a pocket-sized marsupial anteater (see above). And now, it's also the mascot for Canonical's latest Linux distro, Ubuntu 24.04.

I've been running Noble Numbat on my 2020 vintage Dell Precision 3451. This PC originally came with Ubuntu 20.04 and is powered by an Intel 8-core 3GHz i7-9700 CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. 

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You don't need anywhere near that much hardware to run the latest Ubuntu. You can install and run Ubuntu 24.04 on any system with a 2GHz, 2-core 64-bit processor, 4GB RAM, and 25GB storage. Any Windows 7 PC can run it. Heck, it will run just fine on a Raspberry Pi 5

Like installing any modern Linux, installing Ubuntu 24.04 is simple. The short version: Download Ubuntu 24.04, burn it to a USB stick, boot it from the stick, run it to see if it likes your hardware, and -- if it does -- press the install button. That's it.

Oh, it's a little fancier than that. The installer now has an accessibility page where you can customize Ubuntu to meet your particular needs. You can also choose between a Default or Full installation. The Default installation includes only the bare essentials, while the Full installation includes all the usual programs you expect from a desktop Linux distribution.

Technically, behind the scenes, the new installer is using the Subiquity back-end. The brand-new front end was written with Flutter. Not a developer or a system administrator? Don't worry about it. You'll never need to know.

If you are an IT professional, you'll be glad to know that you can now build customized Ubuntu Linux installations. With autoinstall, you can create a repeatable, automated installation flow using an autoinstall YAML file with Subiquity to set up specialized desktops over your network.  

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Both versions use GNOME 46 for their default desktop and Firefox 125.0.1 for the web browser. If GNOME isn't to your taste, you can also get Ubuntu 24.04 with Budgie, Ubuntu BudgieKDE, KubuntuMATE, Ubuntu MATECinnamon, Ubuntu Cinnamon -- and on and on. If there's a Linux desktop environment, there's a customized Ubuntu release for it.

In the Full version, you'll also find desktop applications such as LibreOffice 24.4.2 for the office suite, Thunderbird 115 for e-mail, Rhythmbox 3.4.7 to play music, and Snapshot for your webcam.

Programmers will find that Ubuntu 24.04 LTS now comes with Python 3.12, Ruby 3.2, PHP 8.3, and Go 1.22. It also includes .NET, Java, and Rust. Looking ahead, .NET 8 will be fully supported on Ubuntu 24.04 LTS and 22.04 LTS for the entire lifecycle of both releases. That means developers can upgrade their applications to newer .NET versions without upgrading their Ubuntu release.

When Canonical says the "entire" lifecycle, that's longer than any other company supports their operating systems. Canonical will support Ubuntu 24.04 until 2036. Yes, that's right. Unlike some operating systems I could name -- cough, Windows 10, cough -- Ubuntu Long-Term Support (LTS) releases now come with 12 years of support.  

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If you need more programs, the new Ubuntu App Center offers a wide variety. While it defaults to Snap-based applications, it still offers traditional DEB installs.

The heart of this release is performance, bolstered by the inclusion of the Linux 6.8 kernel. Oliver Smith, Ubuntu product manager, says this isn't just an incremental update. The kernel brings with it numerous performance enhancements that are optimized further by Canonical's low-latency tweaks. This commitment to speed and efficiency signals that Ubuntu is built for those who need a robust, high-performance operating system. While I didn't benchmark this edition, it did feel faster than its predecessor, Ubuntu 22.04, on the same PC.

Ubuntu 24.04 LTS isn't just fast; it's also a fortress. Canonical has layered this release with a slate of security upgrades that harden the system against the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats. The operating system now employs more stringent controls on unprivileged user namespaces -- a common attack vector -- significantly reducing vulnerabilities.

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Are you running both Linux and Windows? Ubuntu's Active Directory (AD) Group Policy client, available via Ubuntu Pro, now supports enterprise proxy configuration, privilege management, and remote script execution. It also continues to support AD Group Policy Objects. Ubuntu 24.04 is also available on Windows via Windows Subsystem for Linux.

While I'm sticking with Linux Mint 21.3 for my default desktop, there's a lot to like about Ubuntu 24.04. If you're looking for a solid, secure, and fast Linux desktop, the newest Ubuntu is well worth your time. 

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