Ubuntu Desktop 23.04 Arrives with Azure AD Authentication

Canonical today announced the release of its latest flagship Linux distribution, Ubuntu Desktop 23.04, which features a new installer, Azure AD authentication, improved gaming performance, and more.

“This Ubuntu milestone release demonstrates our progress in raising the bar for the enterprise developer desktops, thanks to our best-in-class Linux integration with Active Directory Domain Services and now Azure Active Directory”, Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth said. “Our expanded investment in Ubuntu gaming means your downtime is just as satisfying”.

Here’s what’s new in this release.

New installer. The new Ubuntu Desktop installer was built using Flutter and is more streamlined and intuitive than before. Under the covers, the installer uses the same Subiquity codebase as Ubuntu Server, which helps deliver a more consistent experience and supports image customization for businesses that wish to distribute Ubuntu Desktop at scale.

Refreshed desktop experience. Ubuntu Desktop 23.04 ships with the GNOME 44 desktop environment, which includes a refreshed quick settings menu with support for light/dark mode switching, new thumbnail views in the Files app, and other improvements.

Snap improvements. Ubuntu uses a container-based software packaging system called Snap to install, manage, and update apps, and this system now supports background downloading and automatic updating for desktop apps without having to go to the command line. Additionally, the Steam snap for gamers is now available in the stable channel after extensive testing.

Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) authentication. Ubuntu Desktop 23.04 is the first Linux distribution to provide native user authentication with Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) This lets users on Microsoft 365 (M365) Enterprise plans authenticate Ubuntu desktops with the same credentials they use for Microsoft 365 or Azure. This feature will be backported to Ubuntu 22.04 LTS later this year. You can learn more about it here. (Previously, Microsoft announced that it would support Ubuntu Linux with its Intune endpoint management (formerly mobile device management, or MDM) service last October.)

Ubuntu 23.04 can be downloaded for free from the Ubuntu website alongside two additional flavors, Ubuntu Cinnamon, which uses the Cinnamon desktop environment, and Edubuntu, which runs well on lower-end hardware and ships with educational software. Each will be supported with security and maintenance updates for 9 months, or until January 2024.

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