Pop!_OS 21.04 Released With COSMIC And Other New Features: How To Update?

The revamped workspaces, new trackpad gestures, and a pre-included dock are the highlights of this release.


Since its launch back in 2017, Pop!_OS has become a popular Ubuntu-based distro taking fourth place in Distrowatch’s popular distros ranking. Last year, System76 released Pop!_OS 20.04, which brought many new features, changes, and improvements (check out my review of Pop!_OS 20.04. The next version, i.e., Pop!_OS 21.04, is now out.

Over a month ago, we covered Pop!_OS ditching GNOME for the new COSMIC Desktop Environment and the new features that we might see in the upcoming release. Now that the release is live let’s talk about what’s new and how to update to the same.

Pop!_OS 21.04 COSMIC Features

The COSMIC Desktop

System76 coming up with their own Desktop COSMIC took enthusiasts by surprise. Most say that COSMIC tries to fill the gaps that GNOME 40 left, and we’ll see how huge of a gap it really fills in our Pop!_OS 21.04 review, so stay tuned!

Since COSMIC is GNOME-based, the difference in the looks isn’t huge. In fact, a typical GNOME user won’t spot the difference. However, there’s one area where you can see the difference and that is in the settings menu.

COSMIC adds more flexibility to the already flexible Pop!_OS in the form of new keyboard shortcuts, revamped workspaces design, built-in Dock, and the remapped Super key.

System76 revealed that over 56% of Pop users prefer the dock, hence the decision. The dock itself is elongated at the bottom, but you can make necessary changes to make it look like the dock in the Dash-to-dock extension. Here are the things that you can customize in the dock.

  • Expanding full-screen or condensing to a central island
  • Arranging on the bottom, left, or right side of the screen
  • Adjusting size to small, medium, large, or a custom setting
  • Removing new icons for Workspaces, Applications, or the Launcher
  • Hiding the dock or intelligently hiding the dock when windows approach the bottom of the screen
  • Going dockless, if having icons on-tap doesn’t fit your workflow

The Super Key

You can set the Super key to open either the App Launcher, Workspaces, or Applications. The one significant difference between the app launcher in COSMIC and GNOME is; in GNOME, you get a full-screen application launcher, whereas, in COSMIC, it’s small.

You can, of course, launch applications, perform web searches, math calculations, search files, open folders, run a command, and show launcher features by typing a question mark. Apart from that, you can now launch a search option in the new app launcher using the Ctrl + “number” or close a selected window using (Ctrl + Q).

If you think all of this isn’t going to suit your workflow, COSMIC also allows you to remap the Super Key to manage Workspaces or open Apps lists.

New Trackpad Gestures

New trackpad gestures have been added. System76 says that they give you full command over your workspace.

Now you can swipe right with four fingers to open Applications view, swipe left with four fingers to open the Workspaces view, swipe up or down with four fingers to switch to another Workspace, and Swipe with three fingers to switch between Windows in a Workspace.

Pop!_OS COSMIC: Features, Features, and Features

Overall, the COSMIC is really shaping out to be a great major update from Pop!_OS 20.04/10. Here are some of the other features that were added to the OS.

  • You can now create your own plugins in the launchers.
  • You can tile the windows with your mouse by dragging Windows to rearrange them to your liking. The OS will show you a hint when you try to do the same.
  • The launcher’s algorithm has been updated to show relevant applications

How To Update From Pop!_OS 20.04 To Pop!_OS 21.04?

Before proceeding, we strongly recommend you take a backup of your files. Here’s what you need to do to upgrade from Pop!_OS 19.04/20.04 to Pop!_OS 21.04.

1. Update the apps and repositories

sudo apt update
sudo apt full-upgrade

2. Update Pop!_OS using the following command

pop-upgrade release upgrade

3. Apart from this, you can also go to the settings, scroll all the way down to find OS Upgrade, and update Pop!_OS.

Overall, Pop!_OS 21.04 brings many useful features and makes the OS more flexible and complete. What do you think about it? Let us know in the comments section below.

Source: blog.system76.com

Abubakar Mohammed

Abubakar Mohammed

Abubakar is a Linux and Tech Writer. Hailing from a Computer Science background, the start of his love for Tech dates back to 2011, when he was gifted a Dell Inspiron 5100. When he's not covering Tech, you'll find him binge-watching anime and Tech content on YouTube or hunting heads in competitive FPS games. You can also find his work on Android Police and How-To Geek.
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