In a turnout of events, it would appear that the upcoming Ubuntu 21.04 (Hirsute Hippo) operating system will ship with the GNOME 3.38 desktop environment by default rather than GNOME 40.
According to Ubuntu developer Sebastien Bacher
“The topic of what to do about the new GNOME started being discussed and after some consideration we decided to stick to GTK3 and GNOME 3.38 this cycle.”
Since GNOME is the default desktop environment of Ubuntu, each new Ubuntu release is following the six-month-long release cycle of the upstream GNOME Stack, so Ubuntu 21.04 was supposed to ship with the forthcoming GNOME 40 desktop by default, due for release at the end of March 2021. However, due to the new shell design that the GNOME Project announced a few months ago, the Ubuntu developers are refraining from upgrading the desktop packages to GNOME 40 because it might have a major impact on Ubuntu’s desktop and extensions.
“The new shell design, is it going to be fully ready in one cycle? What’s the impact on our desktop and extensions?,”
said Sebastien Bacher.
“Those are topics we are going to spend resources on and ideally we would be helping to move things forward, but it’s already mid-cycle, we didn’t account for any of those and the team is already overworked.”
The same goes for the recently released GTK 4 toolkit, which won’t be available in the upcoming Ubuntu 21.04 release due to theming concerns as Canonical develops its own desktop theme for Ubuntu called Yaru.