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  1. Blog
  2. Article

Tytus Kurek
on 23 April 2021

Ubuntu Server 21.04 (Hirsute Hippo) brings significant improvements to automation and stability fronts with new extensions to the Ubuntu Server Live Installer and phased updates in the Advanced Package Tool (APT). In addition, the latest development cycle includes improved enterprise applications availability with native support for Microsoft Structured Query Language (SQL) Server on Ubuntu 20.04 long-term support (LTS) and new Hardware Enablement (HWE) advanced networking stack for all LTS Ubuntu versions. Canonical will provide support for Ubuntu Server 21.04 until January 2022. All new features will be available in the upcoming Ubuntu Server 22.04 LTS release.

Microsoft SQL Server

The 21.04 development cycle brings native availability of the Microsoft SQL Server on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. System administrators can quickly set up both the database management system (DBMS) and its command-line interface (CLI) using ordinary packaging tools for on-prem deployments or use Ubuntu images with the SQL Server pre-installed when deploying on Azure. In addition, the SQL Server comes with numerous performance enhancements, including Force Unit Access (FUA) support on the XFS filesystem for data durability. Moreover, the persistent memory (PMEM) devices can now be used by default without any additional configuration. This enables straightforward integration with high-performance data storage. Finally, the entire platform is highly available, backed by Corosync and Pacemaker, to ensure resilience against failures and increase the level of confidence.

Read SQL Server HowTo >

Support for Debian Installer preseed scripts

Starting from Ubuntu Server 20.04 long-term support (LTS) the Ubuntu Server Live Installer replaced the legacy Debian Installer (DI), providing better user experience and access to additional features. Those include the ability to auto-update at the installation time, support for SSH sessions, installation save and restore capabilities, and more. On the other hand, the new installer was missing support for DI preseed scripts. This was making some system administrators reluctant to use it. The latest development cycle brings the ability to convert DI preseed scripts into the Ubuntu Server Live Installer artifacts through the autoinstall-generator snap. This enables system administrators to easily migrate to the new installer, benefiting from all the advantages that it brings.

usage: autoinstall-generator [-h] [-c] [-d] [-V] infile [outfile]

positional arguments:
  infile         Debian install preseed file, or a dash to read stdin
  outfile        Subiquity autoinstall yaml

optional arguments:
  -h, --help     show this help message and exit
  -c, --cloud    output in cloud-config format
  -d, --debug    include commented out debug output explaining the conversions
  -V, --version  show version and exit

Refer to the following discourse post for more information.

HWE advanced networking stack

The latest cycle brings for the first time a Hardware Enabled (HWE) advanced networking stack on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS and Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. This concept is similar to the Ubuntu HWE kernel stack and aims to provide support for the latest network interface cards (NICs) and their features in various components of the advanced networking stack. Users will receive updates on a regular basis and will be able to benefit from the latest features brought by interim Ubuntu releases on their Ubuntu LTS systems. At the same time, the rest of the community will benefit from improved stability thanks to fewer potential regressions in the update process. The HWE advanced networking stack is available as a personal package archive (PPA) and includes rdma-core, dkdk and openvswitch packages.

APT phased updates

Starting from Ubuntu Server 21.04, APT now supports the concept of phased updates that have been available on Ubuntu Desktop through the Update Manager since the Ubuntu 13.04 release. Phased updates are a mechanism that ensures regressions monitoring and immediate elimination of degraded packages when performing system updates. This is achieved by rolling out system updates progressively, starting with a small subset of the total user base first and steadily scaling up if no issues are discovered. This ensures that all degraded package updates are caught and reverted before they are propagated to the entire Ubuntu community. APT phased updates increase the overall stability level of Ubuntu Server as required by enterprises in their production environments.

Other notable changes in Ubuntu Server 21.04

In addition to the major new features described above, Ubuntu Server 21.04 includes many other improvements. Here is a summary of the most notable changes:

  • Stability updates to the high availability (HA) stack, including pacemaker and corosync.
  • The latest stable Linux 5.11 kernel for the latest hardware and security updates.
  • Support for all major architectures: x64-64, ARM v7, ARM64, POWER 8, POWER 9, IBM s390x (LinuxONE) and RISC-V.
  • Updates to various applications: QEMU (5.2), libvirt (7.0), PHP (7.4.9), Apache2 (2.4.46), nginx (1.18), GCC (1.189), Python (3.9.2), Bind9 (9.16.8).

For more information, refer to the official release notes.

Next steps

Get Ubuntu Server 21.04 through your favorite option. Those include:

Join our webinar on May, 26th to learn more about new features in Ubuntu Server 21.04.

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