The elementary OS team has unveiled some exciting developments on the path to elementary OS 8, and it’s time for you to get the scoop.
First things first, if you’re still rocking elementary OS 7, be prepared for fewer updates from now on. The elementary OS team has shifted its primary development focus to the upcoming OS 8 series, which will introduce substantial architectural changes and transitions. This means that some components and updates won’t be backported to OS 7. However, if you’re using apps provided as Flatpak packages, rest assured, that they will continue to receive updates indefinitely. This includes all AppCenter apps, sideloaded Flatpak apps, and a significant portion of pre-installed apps.
Moreover, since elementary OS 7 series is built from the Ubuntu 22.04 LTS repositories, you can expect to receive security and bug fix updates from Canonical until 2027. So, while OS 7 is no longer the development focus, it will continue to receive regular maintenance for quite some time.
OS 8’s Roadmap Updates
OS 8 is currently being developed from the Ubuntu 24.04 repositories, indicating that we won’t see it before April 2024 at the earliest. Ubuntu 24.04 has not yet been released and is under development as of publishing this. It is due to be released in April 2024.
The team aims to complete the ambitious goals for OS 8 within the next six months following April-2024, but the ultimate priority remains to release a stable and polished product.
For those eager to track the progress and goals of OS 8, the elementary OS team has set up a release planning project on GitHub. This project outlines the targeted goals for OS 8 and tracks the team’s progress.
One of the most ambitious goals for OS 8 is the adoption of the Wayland display server protocol as the default. The elementary OS team has been working towards this transition for several years and is now in the final stages. Users in the Early Access program already have access to an experimental Wayland session of Pantheon desktop for testing. This transition promises improved performance, enhanced app security, and greater support for complex display setups, including mixed DPI multi-monitor configurations.
As part of the Wayland transition, a new Dock is in the works, as the current Plank is incompatible with Wayland’s security model. Many distributions already dropped Plank since the developer abandoned the project. In addition, the team has also started work on a new Wayland-compatible window matching API that communicates directly with Gala, the elementary OS window manager.
The transition to GTK 4, which began in OS 7, continues into OS 8. Several components and apps have already made the shift to GTK 4, with more ports in progress. This transition has necessitated significant rewrites in some components, offering improved code, performance, and accessibility. Expect a smoother and more responsive Pantheon experience as GTK 4 takes centre stage.
System Settings and the indicator area are also receiving attention in OS 8. Responsive design improvements are on the horizon, ensuring that System Settings can adapt to various devices. The indicator area, which has remained largely unchanged since OS 0.4, is being reimagined with a Quick Settings menu design to accommodate responsive contexts, although the completion of this project may extend beyond the OS 8 release.
In summary, the elementary OS team is hard at work on OS 8, with ambitious goals to enhance the user experience and performance. While OS 7 may receive fewer updates going forward, you can expect a dynamic and feature-rich OS 8 when it finally arrives.
You can learn more on the official blog post announcing this update.