The upcoming GNOME 40 desktop is bringing plenty of UX changes thanks to the new shell design and GTK 4.

GNOME 40 will be releasing in March and Ubuntu 21.04 arrives in April. The tradition so far is that the new Ubuntu release consists of the new GNOME release as they both release a new version every six months.

Keeping that trend, you would expect Ubuntu 21.04 to feature GNOME 40 but that’s not happening. Not this time.

Here’s why Ubuntu 21.04 won’t have GNOME 40 (and GTK 4)

In a forum post, Ubuntu developer Sebastien Bacher mentioned that the redesign of the GNOME shell might cause compatibility issues with the extensions. Ubuntu relies heavily on extensions for giving the GNOME desktop the Ubuntu look.

The vertical Ubuntu launcher on the left side might also not go very well with the horizontal approach in GNOME 40.

GTK 4 is an impressive release for application developers, but it might cause issue with the default Yaru theme. Transitioning Yaru to GTK 4 is a massive task and there might not be enough time for that before the Ubuntu 21.04 release.

Hopefully we manage to resolve enough of those questions in the remaining of the cycle to be in a better position to include the new versions when I -serie opens.

Sebastien Bacher, Ubuntu Developer

Better to be safe than sorry, right?

This is surely a disappointment for those looking forward to the new Ubuntu release. Sticking with GNOME 3.38 which is already in Ubuntu 20.10 means that there won’t be a lot of visual feature changes in Ubuntu 21.04.

In any case, Ubuntu 20.10 users don’t have much choice. They’ll have to upgrade to Ubuntu 21.04 eventually because Ubuntu 20.10 will be discontinued in July 2021.

A disappointment it is, but still better to avoid a half-baked GNOME 40 causing trouble for Ubuntu 21.04 users.

What do you think of Ubuntu’s decision of staying with GNOME 3.38?