Ade Malsasa Akbar contact
Senior author, Open Source enthusiast.
Saturday, May 5, 2018 at 23:57

Ubuntu 18.04 LTS "Bionic Beaver" has been released at Thursday, 26 April 2018 by announcements in their mailing list and Release Notes. After installing Bionic on my laptop since the Beta 1 and Beta 2, here's my report: it uses around 1.2GiB of RAM at least; it brings LibreOffice 6, Firefox 59, and GNOME 3.28 by default; still using Ubiquity as graphical installer. The biggest difference to previous LTS is it no longer uses Unity 7 desktop, so no HUD, no global menu anymore. It is powerful and still very easy to use like before, but needs more powerful hardware. The rest of this review explains those for you with additional links if you want to learn further. Enjoy!

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Read also download links, installation guide, how to get Unity 7 desktop, and what to do after installing 18.04.

Basic Info

  • Version: 18.04
  • Codename: Bionic Beaver 
  • Release date: Thursday, 26 April 2018
  • Support lifespan: LTS for 5 years, from 2018 to 2023
  • Desktop environment: GNOME 3
  • Display manager: GDM 3
  • Graphical installer: Ubiquity
  • System basics: Linux 4.15, GNU (glibc 2.27, coreutils 8.28, binutils 2.30, tar 1.29, etc.), Xorg 1.19.6, systemd 237, GNOME 3.28, Nautilus 3.26

1. Memory Usage

Exactly the same as the beta 2 version, Bionic needs 1.2GiB of RAM at idle time after freshly installed. In other words, this requires you better computer to run Bionic without lagging problem. At least, a mere Intel Pentium with 4GB RAM laptop is already very smooth to run it according to my installation.

Here's list of processes where the big four are gnome-shell (120MiB)(can grow more), gnome-software (60MiB), evolution-calendar-factory (30MiB), and evolution-calendar-factory-subprocess (30MiB):

Compare this to the rest of Beta 2 flavors in this chart:

2. Desktop

Here's how the desktop looks on Ubuntu Bionic.

This one is how the overview looks like. To compare it, on 16.04 we use Super+W keys while here on 18.04 we use simply Super key.

The important difference is the control-buttons are back to the right side. You need to change your habits of moving cursor to top-left, into top-right for now.

See the orange close button position?

3. Where is My Unity Desktop? What's the Differences?

It is already replaced with GNOME 3 since 17.04. Features you've got on Unity now gone, so no Dash, no HUD, no global menu, and no lenses anymore. The desktop on 18.04 now is far more simpler, or more precisely, reduced heavily in features. Important note: fortunately, you still can install Unity desktop on 18.04!


No more HUD No more dash

4. Menu & Panel

When you press Super+A keys or click 3x3 dots button, you see the menu. It is a brand new menu with only full-screen mode (no small mode like on 16.04), with only two pages "Frequent" and "All", with search bar on middle-top.

Fortunately, if you have accustomed to vertical panel ("Launcher"), you don't need to throw away your habits, because 18.04 keeps it with similar features. You still can select between windows from an icon, and also pin an application on it.

Select running Nautilus windows from one Nautilus icon "Add to Favorites" is the same as pinning on 16.04
Little orange dots indicating how many instances of Firefox and Nautilus are running, respectively Functions on right-click for Rhythmbox music player are still there

5. Calendar & Application Tray

They are now placed on the same place, under the clock in the middle of top panel. By Application Tray I mean the place where Rhythmbox (or such program which involves tray* icon) placed. However, the System Tray, the place where buttons like volume slider placed, is still on the right end of top panel.

This is where your Rhythmbox tray goes:

And the calendar tray received integration with GNOME Calendar application. If you have schedules in GNOME Calendar, by clicking the date number, you may see the schedules on the left column of calendar tray. See this picture.

*) Problem: I find that Shutter tray icon placed nowhere, not on panel, not on this tray either.

6. System Tray

The position is still the same but the appearance changed a lot. For example, now all items are placed under one same drop-down menu, while the tray on 16.04 were not. So the volume & brightness sliders, the networking buttons, the battery, and the session buttons are placed vertically in one menu.

7. Built-In Applications

  • Firefox 59 "Quantum"
  • Thunderbird 52.7
  • LibreOffice 6.0 (Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw)
  • GNOME 3.28 (Shell, File Roller, Calendar, To Do, Gedit, the Software, the Settings, Evince, Help)
  • Nautilus 3.26
  • Transmission 2.92 (bittorrent client)
  • Rhythmbox 3.4.2 (audio player)
  • Totem 3.26 (video player)
  • Disks 3.28 (partition management utility)

Basically, Ubuntu Bionic is a GNOME 3.28 distro so it brings same version of its applications along. Exceptions you may find are Nautilus, it kept 3.26 so you can still put icons on desktop; Totem, and Screenshot. The GNU system Bionic brings along including bash 4.4.19, glibc 2.27, tar 1.29, coreutils 8.28, binutils 2.30, gpg 2.2.4, and info 6.5. About programming, it brings Python 3 (no Python 2 by default) and Perl 5 interpreters; GNU awk 4.1, and GNU sed 4.4.

Pressing Super+A shows your installed apps

Good news for us, since MP3 patent has already expired (2017), now Ubuntu 18.04 can play MP3 by default! You will find both Rhythmbox and Totem are able to play MP3 files peacefully without asking to install anything. However, for MP4, it is different, you still need to install certain programs to make Ubuntu able to play them. Overall, this is a long awaited winning for all of us.

Finally, playing MP3 instantly!

    8. Online Accounts

    On 18.04, you can connect to Google, Facebook, Microsoft Live, Flickr, and also Ubuntu Single Sign-On. This means, for example, you can access your Google Drive storage right from Nautilus file manager. Interesting, right?

    Settings > Online Accounts > setup your Google Account You will find your Google Drive account on the file manager

    9. GNOME Shell Extensions

    Fortunately, you can also install many GSEs you like on 18.04. For example, I have tested NetSpeed to be working well. I can confirm that Frippery Menu, Time ++, Azan Islamic Prayer, RSS Feed, Removable drive menu, and Easyscreencast work as well.

    Netspeed Frippery applications menu
    Time ++ Removable drive menu
    RSS Feed Easyscreencast

    10. System Settings

    You need to be familiar with the Settings, the new control panel. It is one part of GNOME and has already rearranged to look vertically (like table of contents in a book) starting with Wi-Fi and ending with Details. You control almost all aspects of Ubuntu in here, for example, changing wallpapers and managing printers. You can access part of Settings directly by typing its name on the desktop search.

    The Settings showing power management section

    Directly go to Mouse settings by desktop search

    11. Software Installation

    On 16.04, we used Ubuntu Software Center, and on 18.04 we now use Ubuntu Software (without Center). In a purely end-user perspective, it is just the same thing with same features, except it is newer. You still can explore many applications you can install into your Ubuntu like before. Look, here's the Ubuntu Software showing "Productivity" section which offers you applications such as Abiword, Calibre, Evolution, and many more.

    Front page of Ubuntu Software

    Showing details of Clementine player Installing GIMP image editor
    Showing category "Productivity" Showing category "Education"

    12. System Installation

    It is still Ubiquity but with some improvements. Now, it has two options on the 4th step, "Normal" and "Minimal", to give you choices whether to install it completely or just minimalist (e.g. for your school lab). On my SSD, the installation took only under 6 minutes.

    The 4th step of system installation

    13. Night Light & Miscellaneous 

    Now, Ubuntu has built-in feature to help you sleep well, the Night Light, reducing sleeplessness and eye strain by automatically reducing the blue light on your screen. You can enable this from Settings > Devices > Displays > Night Light > turn it ON. This feature first appeared on GNOME 3.24 (2017) and Ubuntu GNOME 17.04 (2017).

    The Night Light from the Settings and the Tray
    If you have no idea in using GNOME desktop, you can always read the Help, it gives you videos and documentations about using it. Don't know where the Help is? It is the blue circular icon with question mark ('?') on your vertical panel. Also, the same Help gives you documentations for all GNOME applications available.

    The help showing guidance in using GNOME to you

    To pin an application from the menu, for example GNOME To Do, just right-click > Add to Favorites > done.

    Adding your favorite app into vertical launcher

    14. Further Manual & Help

    If you want to learn Ubuntu 18.04 by yourself, here's my recommendation:


    This article is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.