GNOME 42 has arrived! This is a major release that introduces the libadwaita library to provide apps with not only a facelift but also adaptive design and animations. There is also official dark theme support and excellent screen capture functionality built into the Print Screen button.
So how do you get your hands on these new features? You cannot just download the latest version from the official website. And while some Linux distributions provide updates in just a few days, most will leave you waiting for months. But there are ways to get the latest GNOME on Ubuntu too. This way.
Upgrade to Ubuntu 22.04
Ubuntu 20.04, the current long-term support release, uses GNOME 3.36. The latest interim release, Ubuntu 21.10, uses GNOME 40. To get GNOME 42, you need to upgrade to Ubuntu 22.04.
Technically, Ubuntu 22.04 is not available yet. It will be released in April. But you can upgrade your system to use the pre-release software and get GNOME 42 ahead of time. Just know that, as a system not yet intended for public consumption, you may encounter a large number of bugs.
With that disclaimer, the first step is to make sure your system is fully up to date. You can do this from the App Store, but since you need to open a terminal to complete the process, let’s do it from scratch. So open GNOME Terminal and type this command.
This is a two-part command that first updates your software sources to make sure you’re downloading the latest software. Then it actually starts the download.
This will start the process of upgrading to a newer version of Ubuntu. Since 22.04 is not available yet, you need to tell the tool to see the versions of Ubuntu that are still in development. That’s what the -d flag is for. Follow the instructions you see in your terminal and enter Y if necessary. Once the process is complete, reboot your machine.
Get GNOME 42 on other Linux distros
Ubuntu is a GNOME-based distro, but it’s not the best way to stay up-to-date with the latest version of GNOME. Ubuntu uses its own themes, extensions and patches.
Even if you replace these with the vanilla GNOME desktop, Ubuntu still offers different versions of different apps. Ubuntu 21.10, for example, came with GNOME 40, even though GNOME 41 was already available. But users just didn’t get GNOME 40. Some GNOME 41 apps got littered.
To experience the latest version of GNOME as soon as possible, you can use the rolling release distribution. Two good options are openSUSE Tumbleweed and Arch Linux.
On any distro, you don’t need to do anything special to get GNOME 42. The latest version will either be available within a few days or a few weeks after GNOME releases the software into the wild.
Rolling release distributions can come with a little extra maintenance and risk. If you like the stability that comes with a six-month release cycle, try Fedora.
It provides the latest GNOME in its stock format. The current version, Fedora 35, comes with GNOME 41. But you can either download or, if you’re already running Fedora, upgrade to Fedora 36 Beta.
If you’re using the immutable and Flatpak-based Fedora Silverblue, it’s even easier to get GNOME 42 ahead of time because Silverblue lets you switch back and forth between Fedora 35 and Fedora 36 with a single command, without having to reinstall your system.
If things don’t work for you, you can go back to Fedora 35 by selecting the previous entry in the GRUB menu at boot time. If you can’t see it, press Esc while your computer is starting up. You can then make the recursion permanent with this command.
Enjoy GNOME 42 on your Linux desktop
It’s fun to test the latest version of GNOME. Just know that some functionality is still in progress. Over time, various GNOME apps are slowly upgraded to GTK4. Some rough edges may be visible.
While the wait may be tough, those who wait will find a more refined version of GNOME 42 waiting for them after a few months of updates and bug fixes. Whether you decide to wait or dive right in, keep reading to see what’s new!