What’s new in Ubuntu 20.10 ‘Groovy Gorilla’, available today

Ubuntu 10/20 “Groovy Gorilla” is here! The Gorilla was released on October 22nd, 2020 and is more about minor improvements than groundbreaking new features. As an intermediate version, it also has no long-term support. Is it worth the upgrade?

Evolution, not revolution

The Groovy Gorilla took to the streets, and again this is a preliminary build of the hugely popular Linux distribution. Every two years Canonical releases a Long Term Support (LTS) version of Ubuntu that is supported for five years.

However, Canonical releases new versions of Ubuntu every six months. Each LTS version is followed by three intermediate versions before the next LTS version. These collect the changes and improvements that have been made on the way to the next LTS version.

These preliminary builds will allow Canonical developers to collect feedback and field test their work to date. Interim builds also give people a chance to play with the latest, greatest version of the software.

The release in April 2020 (April 20th “Focal Fossa”) was the latest LTS version. As a result, Groovy Gorilla does not deliver any major surprises or shocks six months later. The gorilla has his dusters out here and there, polished and shiny, but that’s about it.

That’s not to say that this isn’t a smart and (during our testing) stable build. So far it seems perfectly solid and looks great, but is it worth leaving a long term service release?

CONNECTED: What’s new in Ubuntu 20.04 LTS “Focal Fossa”

Installation: ZFS becomes less experimental

The Ubuntu Unity installer hasn’t changed much. The installation process is almost the same as it is on Ubuntu 20.04, and the black disk check screen is the same.

One notable change is hidden in the Advanced Features dialog box. For the ZFS file system installation option, the word “Experimental” is no longer displayed in uppercase. Within Canonical, trust must be built in the durability and readiness of the ZFS implementation as a daily driver file system.

After you’ve installed Ubuntu 20.10 and signed in, you’ll see the Groovy Gorilla nestled among the familiar purple hues of the Ubuntu color palette.

He looks like a monkey who brought it together, but let’s see if that’s true.


An updated GNOME desktop

Groovy Gorilla uses GNOME 3.38.0, the latest version of the graphical desktop environment that supports the standard Ubuntu desktop experience. There are hints of attention and tweaking here and there, and attempts are made to make applications look like they are part of a cohesive whole.

Let’s take a closer look at these.

Move links in the application grid

The Applications grid used to have two views: Common, which showed your most popular applications, and All, which listed all of the applications. With GNOME 3.38.0, you have a single customizable view.

You can drag and rearrange the order of the application icons as you wish. An alphabetically sorted list is no longer enforced. You can mix and match to your heart’s content. If you want the Firefox icon in the first position, just click and drag it to the right place. It stays there until you change it.

The grid is also more screen and resolution conscious. It is sensitive to scaling and adapts to meaningful symbol proportions and the grid layout depending on the resolution and screen mode of your monitor.

Dragging one icon over another creates a stack or group, just like on your smartphone. For example, you may want to drag all of the LibreOffice icons into one group.

An application grid with four Libre Office icons in a group.

If you add more than nine symbols to a group, they will be paginated as you scroll or scroll through the pages.

However, breaking down a group is not as smooth as creating a group. To drag an icon out of a group, you need to open the group, click and drag the icon out, then “wave” it on the desktop until the group is closed.

You can then drop the icon onto the application grid. Occasionally we had to “wave” the icon on the screen for four or five seconds before closing the group. However, this could work more smoothly in the official version of Ubuntu 20.10.

Calendar notifications

The calendar tool has also been updated. You can now see notifications about your calendar entries at the bottom of the pane.

A calendar notification for October 4, 2020 in Ubuntu 10/20.

Reorganization of the system menu

The system menu now has the option “Restart”. Previously, you could only call up the “Restart” option after selecting “Shut down”, which was a little uninteresting.


Settings in the Settings Dialog Box

It’s not a big change, but the following options in the Settings dialog box have been renamed:

  • “Universal Access” is now “Access”.
  • “On-Screen Displays” is now “Displays”.
  • “Device color profiles” is now “Color”.
  • “Language and Region” is now “Region and Language”.

Easy Wi-Fi hotspot configuration

On the “WLAN” tab under “Settings” you can use your laptop as a WLAN hotspot. When you scan the QR code with a mobile device such as your smartphone or tablet, a connection to your hotspot is established.

A Wi-Fi hotspot dialog in Ubuntu 20.10.


Many of the packages have been updated with newer versions. The version numbers of some of the main packages are listed below:

  • Thunderbird: 78.3.1
  • LibreOffice:
  • Fire fox: 81.0.1
  • Files: 3,38,0-stable
  • gcc: 10.2.0
  • OpenSSL: 1.1.1f

Some applications have also been visually revised. For example, the screenshot program now seems to be an integral part of the Ubuntu experience (see below).

The screenshot program under Ubuntu 20.10.

Too bad it still closes after every screenshot, but the layout is much cleaner and easier to use.

Kernel 5.8

Ubuntu 20.10 is shipped with the Linux kernel version 5.8.0-20-generic. As usual, there are a number of new features in the Linux kernel, including better support for modern hardware devices.

Here is a short list of the improvements:

Should you upgrade to Ubuntu 20.10?

We recommend most people stick to Ubuntu 20.04 LTS for stability. Ubuntu 20.10 doesn’t offer any major improvements. Rather, it just shows that Ubuntu is still a solid platform and making good strides towards its next LTS release in 2022.

Canonical estimates that 95% of Ubuntu installations are LTS versions. If that’s true, then interim builds aren’t going to appeal to a lot of people who use Ubuntu. Even if Canonical’s numbers differ slightly, it’s evident that the vast majority prefer stability and guaranteed long-term support over the added benefits of interim builds.

If you’re happy with 4/20 Focal Fossa, should you accept the hassle (and potential risk) of an upgrade to get this build? Probably not.

However, if Gorilla is your first encounter with Linux, you will be very satisfied indeed.

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