System76 announces Pop!_OS 21.10

 A few days away from the end of this year, System76 engineers released a new version of their powerful GNU Linux distribution, Pop! _OS 21.10.

As its name indicates, this version is built on the latest stable release of Ubuntu, version 21.10, which means that the distribution has had newer versions of the preinstalled apps, an updated GNOME 40.5 desktop environment, and mixed versions of GNOME applications between version 40 (such as evince, Extensions, gedit, and the Nautilus file manager) and the new version 41 (such as the Gnome Disks, Calendar application, and the Eye of Gnome image viewer).

But, unlike Ubuntu, Pop! _OS 21.10 comes with a newer Linux kernel (version 5.15.5), and the latest NVIDIA drivers. System 76 says that it does not provide any newer kernel versions, or NVIDIA drivers updates unless they pass comprehensive quality assurance tests, which means greater stability and support for current and new hardware and parts, and better performance than Ubuntu itself.

Pop!_OS 21.10 introduces a New Application Library feature to the company's COSMIC desktop interface, which improves applications search and navigation in the distro to help increase users' productivity.

Previously, when navigating to Applications, a full-screen Application Wall would appear. In Pop!_OS 21.10, the Application Library opens in a small, searchable window over your current workspace. The Application Library can be opened from the top bar, a 4-finger swipe right on the trackpad, or by using Super + A on your keyboard.

The application library is organized in an alphabetical list, making it easy to find the application or folder you want.

 The applications are arranged into folders- that can be renamed or deleted- by category. These folders act like tabs to move between your personally organized applications. The library also supports drag and drop, where you can move the application, you want to any folder you want using your mouse or trackpad.

A search bar at the top of the library enables a search by filtering installed applications, but also displays applications related to the search keyword, that are available for installation from the Pop! _Shop software store.

Finally, if you're using a multiscreen set up, the App Library will only run on the mouse-focused screen. This way, you can keep your eyes on your current workspace and run the app on the screen you want.

If you own a Raspberry Pi, you're in luck, as the Pop! _OS team announced the first technical preview installation image for ARM architecture devices, and it is called Pop! _Pi.

The distribution offers better performance over the higher-spec Raspberry Pi like the Raspberry Pi 4, although it didn't receive as much focus on quality assurance as to the desktop version, it's an excellent additional option for users. The company also promises to provide Pop! _Pi with future versions of the operating system, and for sure it will get improvements and better stability with time.

Your system will now recognize when Pop! _OS from the recovery partition, or when you try to reinstall the same copy of the operating system on your device, offers the option to Refresh the OS.

The Refresh OS feature reinstall your operating system without deleting the files in the home folder. This allows you to "refresh" your operating system without losing your data, which can come in handy if you accidentally break your system functions.

For an improved OS upgrade experience, the restore partition is now updated before upgrading the OS. This ensures that in the unlikely case something goes wrong during an upgrade, the Refresh OS option in the recovery partition can install to the latest release. In Addition, the user-added PPAs are now disabled before the upgrade, as they often cause issues for users during this process.

Pop! _OS 21.10 includes some GNOME 40 updates and improvements since the current Cosmic desktop interface for the system is based on GNOME (although the development team is working on another version of Cosmic not based on GNOME, but instead on Rust), among these Updates:

  • Wi-Fi Sorting in Settings: Wi-Fi connections will now be sorted by your current connection, previous connections, and strength of the signal, making your desired network easier to find.

  • Auto-completion in Files: Searching in Files will turn up a list of search results as you type.

Best of all, the company backported all these new features to previous Pop!_OS releases, so you won't miss out on any of them if you choose to stay on your current OS version (I got the interface, Refresh OS, and kernel updates on version 21.04, I don't know if they are available in an older version).

Existing Pop!_OS users can upgrade their OS to the new 21.10 release by going to the OS Upgrade & Recovery menu in the Settings app, then clicking the Download button at the top to download the upgrade. To apply for the upgrade, just click Upgrade once the download is complete. But before making any changes to your system, be sure to back up all your data to an external storage disk to ensure that you can access it in case anything unexpected happens during the upgrade.

If you're a command-line fan, you can also the terminal to upgrade. Open Terminal from your desktop or with Super + T. To make sure you’re fully updated before upgrading, use the commands below one at a time, pressing Enter after each:

sudo apt update

sudo apt full-upgrade

You’ll be prompted to enter your password, which will be cloaked in invisible ink as you type. This is normal. Once the process is finished, run the following command:

pop-upgrade release upgrade

Before diving into the upgrade, open Pop!_Shop to the Installed view and perform any outstanding updates. This will ensure a faster and more reliable upgrade.

As your system upgrades, you may be prompted to answer a few yes or no questions. Press Y and then Enter to continue. After a reboot and about 15 minutes, bam! Upgrade complete.

If you intend to install the system from scratch (Fresh Install), just go to the following  page, and download the appropriate versions for your device (there are two versions of the system, a version for devices with NVIDIA graphics cards, and a copy for other devices), then follow this installation guide to install and set up your new system.

Pop OS is one of the best distros available and recommended for both beginners and advanced users, as it comes by default with only the minimum programs that you need to start your work, without all those annoying and slow add-ons like Snaps. It is a distro that I advise you to try, especially If you are an Ubuntu user, as it offers better performance and higher stability, as well as a development team behind it that knows what it is doing well.

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