Ubuntu 24.04 upgrades available – to Mantic users

Enjoy some Noble Numbat novelty now – but excluding GNOME 46.1

It comes a bit later than usual, but if you are running Ubuntu 23.10 Mantic Minotaur, you should start seeing prompts to upgrade to the new release.

This isn't the first delay to hit this release. Ubuntu 24.04 Noble Numbat came out at the end of April, after a short beta-test period that itself started late. Release of the beta was delayed by the xz library backdoor which hit at the end of March.

Noble is a long-term support release, which won't hit its end of life until June 2029, and as Canonical announced in March, it will get 12 years of updates rather than 10 – if users opt into Ubuntu Pro, that is.

If you're running the previous LTS, 22.04 Jammy Jellyfish, then you won't get nagged until the release of 24.04.1 which is expected in August. So, for now, the upgrade notifications only apply to October's Mantic Minotaur release. Canonical itself estimates that 95 percent of Ubuntu users run LTS releases, so most won't get offered updates just yet.

The delay in offering the update is due to a couple of sticky bugs that Canonical uncovered in its testing. Noble switches Ubuntu's default email client, Thunderbird, to a version packaged in Canonical's snap format. Upgrading Debian-packaged Thunderbird to the Snap package revealed some issues, including bug #2061918. We suspect that, perhaps sadly, most people use webmail these days and probably never open Thunderbird, though – even if they possibly should try it. A bigger issue is that "Noble" switches to 64-bit Unix timestamps, which can confuse the APT packaging tool – for example, as in bug #2063221.

Classic Unix used a 32-bit number to hold time stamps, meaning that the maximum date it can hold is in the year 2038 – the so-called Y2K38 problem that we explained when BBC iPlayer started reporting that date. That's fixed now, but not without the occasional hump in the road.

The Reg FOSS desk upgraded a sacrificial Ubuntu 23.10 machine yesterday, and although it took a couple of hours it went fine. The upgrade reinstalled snapd, which we'd removed from that lappy, but that's only to be expected. The procedure is much the same as it's been for over a decade: back up anything important, then install all updates:

sudo apt update
sudo apt full-upgrade -y

You may well need to add sudo snap refresh in there, too, just in case. We found that we needed to manually update some packages that were being "held back" by what Canonical calls phased updates. If you get that too, try sudo apt upgrade -y again. In case your box is being very recalcitrant, you can copy-and-paste the list of packages being held back onto the end of the sudo upgrade -y line – just remember to edit out any line breaks.

Reboot, then run the update manager (update-manager for command-line types, or "Software Updates" for point-and-clickers) and you should get offered the update. Hardcore shell warriors can invoke do-release-upgrade. ®


Noble users may not get GNOME 46.1 any time in the immediate future, though. GNOME is built around the Mutter window-manager-cum-Wayland-compositor, and Mutter 46.1 includes a new explicit sync feature. Point releases of GNOME are meant to be bug fixes and not introduce new feature, and Canonical has a micro release exception policy covering this, under which it pushes out GNOME point releases to LTS users. Now, one of the development team says GNOME has violated this with the 46.1 release.

Working with GNOME is notoriously not easy. That is why the Unity desktop happened, as Canonical SABDFL Mark Shuttleworth blogged at the time, and as other distros are still discovering over a decade later.

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