It's April 2015, and a new release of the most popular Linux distro (bar its fork, Mint) has been released, along with the usual flavors (plus another, Ubuntu MATE). So what's new?
For the Unity-based main edition, it’s mostly just small updates that are visible, but there are big changes under the hood. First and foremost is systemd, the controversial init system. Ubuntu is the latest major distro to switch to systemd. Fedora, openSUSE, Debian, Arch, and the like have already switched. If you’d like to read more about the controversy, visit http://www.zdnet.com/article/stepping-into-the-systemd-quagmire/.
There are also a bunch of development/server tools included in the 15.04 release such as Ubuntu Make and Chef.
The visible changes are mainly minor, such as a new wallpaper, Compiz bug fixes, a Unity version bump to 7.3, and the option to move menus to a window’s title bar rather than the universal top bar.
This is probably the most changed flavor, with the inclusion of the all-new Plasma 5 desktop. Plasma 5 is mostly an evolution of the old KDE4, with a much cleaner and flatter interface. I’ve been a not-so-secret Plasma 5 fan since it was released, so I’m excited that Kubuntu is finally shipping it as default. If you liked KDE4 better, there’s still 14.04 LTS, although I’m not sure there’s anyone who falls in that camp.
Another distribution without major changes. Xfce got a version bump to 4.12, after nearly two years, with a bunch of minor improvements. There are also some Xubuntu-specific fixes.
Yet another distro with almost no change. Just a couple of bug fixes again.
Yet another distro with almost no change. Just a couple of bug fixes again. However, the flavor is planning to switch to the LXQt desktop for the 15.10 release.
Ubuntu GNOME 15.04
More minor changes. The GNOME desktop got updated to version 3.14, with some minor changes, such as limited support for multitouch trackpad gestures.
Ubuntu MATE 15.04
Ubuntu MATE, in its first release as an official Ubuntu flavor, receives a gorgeous theme called Yuyo. It ships with MATE 1.8.2 and forks of most Ubuntu and GNOME applications. Also, there are major bug fixes, especially for the installer. I haven’t had a chance to try any of these flavors, but hopefully the UEFI bug that plagued Beta 1 is fixed.
UPDATE: Installed in VirtualBox, UEFI works fully now, but we’ll have to see for physical hardware.