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Ubuntu 20.04 LTS Release Date & Features

Ubuntu 20.04 LTS is a long-term support release of Ubuntu OS that we are very excited for, because SlickStack will officially be considered “Beta” after we shift into supporting Ubuntu 20.04 and PHP 7.4, along with WordPress Multisite (a long-requested feature).

Ubuntu 18.04 was the arguably one of the most anticipated LTS releases in years because of the fact that PHP 7 was bundled, Let’s Encrypt was added to the Canonical (Launchpad) repos, and other items, but 20.04 has several significant new features too.

The nickname for 20.04 will be Focal Fossa and it will be released on 23 April, 2020. Since LTS releases always receive 5 years of support, 20.04 will be fully supported until 2025.

Some users even think that because Microsoft ended support for Windows 7 as of January 2020, this could be the most “considered” version of Ubuntu ever released, although we are yet to know for sure if that will turn out to be true.

What new features are coming in Ubuntu Focal Fossa?

Many of the new features are significant, but perhaps more beneficial to Desktop users. For example, many UI changes and improvements, many new hardware being supported thanks to bundling the Linux Kernel 5.4, and integration with LivePatch for reboot-free kernel updates. According to OMG! Ubuntu! the initramfs compression has also been improved, meaning faster boot times — again, perhaps more relevant to Desktop users, although it’s certainly welcome for web stacks as well. While many dev tools have also been upgraded, the most significant for web stacks like SlickStack is that PHP 7.4 is now the default, which has notably faster performance than PHP 7.2 (although the improvement is much less than the previous jump from PHP 5.6 to PHP 7.0):

Developers will also appreciate the refreshed toolchain which includes, among others, glibc 2.31, OpenJDK 11, Python 3.8.2, php 7.4, perl 5.30, and golang 1.13.

A few other features that will significantly influence the cloud community is that Ubuntu 20.04 bundles backported support for WireGuard, the increasingly popular VPN alternative to OpenVPN, and also drops support for 32 bit systems, which will probably bring a sigh of relief to datacenters and DevOps folks who have been juggling 32 bit and 64 bit systems for several years now.

We’ve also been waiting for several months to see what sort of emphasis on MySQL 8.0 version there will be on Ubuntu 20.04 (or not) due to some minor controversy, as many sysadmins believe that MySQL 5.7 is still more stable and performs better on average web stacks than version 8.0 does and that it shouldn’t be overly promoted. Well, Canonical has already prepared the 8.0 package of MySQL on Launchpad and tagged it as part of Focal Fossa, so we assume the “installation” commands will require versioning as they did in Ubuntu 18.04 as well (e.g. apt install mysql-server-8.0 … still not sure yet which version apt install mysql-server … will install by default). This ambiguity has also resulted in down stream questions with Percona database, etc.

Update: After more testing, we can confirm that Ubuntu 20.04 now defaults to MySQL 8.0 and PHP 7.4 so that is what SlickStack 20.04 will now be using as well. You can also no longer easily install alternative versions of PHP and MySQL like you could on Ubuntu 18.04 as it now requires setting up custom PPAs or so forth. For example before you could run something like sudo apt install php-fpm7.2 to install that version of PHP specifically, but you can’t do that anymore by default on Ubuntu 20.04.

About the Author

Jesse Nickles

Jesse is the lead developer for the SlickStack project and also for HoverCraft, the accompanying free WordPress theme. He has been customizing WordPress for both personal websites and SEO clients for over 15+ years, with a focus on simplicity and longevity.

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