My first impressions of Ubuntu Hardy Heron (8.04) Beta

Ubuntu logo

It's April, which means that it is the month of a new release of Ubuntu. Hardy Heron (8.04) is going to be the eighth release of the distribution, which has enjoyed enormous popularity in recent times.

I use the KDE variant, Kubuntu as one of my main desktop operating systems, but I haven't yet tried out the beta of Hardy Heron. I'm putting the standard Ubuntu desktop disc through its paces.

The first thing you notice after booting off the CD is that the boot menu has new options. Instead of just booting into the live CD environment only, you now have the option to boot in and 'Try without change', or to jump straight into the installer.

Ubuntu Hardy Heron’s new boot menu

In the normal mode, it boots fairly quickly, considering it's a live CD and you can get up and running straight away and play with all the default applications as much as you like. If you do then decide after a quick play to install, you can use the Installer icon on the desktop, just like previous versions of the Ubuntu Live environment.

Hardy features some visual changes from its predecessor. The GNOME theme has been subtly altered - menus now have an orange coloured bar on their left and some gradients and colours on buttons and other core widgets have been slightly changed too.

New GUI widget colours in Ubuntu

There is also a new default desktop background, which features an artistic rendering of a heron in the Ubuntu colour scheme. I personally think it looks professional and makes a nice backdrop to the new distro.

Going over to your other option on the boot menu now, choosing the install-only mode is slightly quicker, but really only cuts out the extra time it takes to load the desktop and double-click the icon.

Installer window in Ubuntu

The installer is very much like its predecessor. It is reasonably simple to understand, minus the usual, unavoidable confusion that partitioning will cause. I managed to do a full install on the disk easy and quickly, and had no issues with the installer that has happened on occasion in previous Ubuntu releases.

Stability is a big issue here - Hardy Heron is planned to be the second release of Ubuntu given the Long Time Support (LTS) moniker, which means it will be officially supported for three years on the desktop, and five on the server.

I didn't experience any major issues in my brief play, although one application I did launch crashed (it was the Screens and Graphics control panel application listed under Other). The fact that it crashed was handled with admirable grace, with a balloon popup appearing in the top right of the screen.

Ubuntu crash report screenshot

Clicking the icon gives a dialogue with some more information.

Crash report information in Ubuntu

Also, the wired network connection that was available to Ubuntu didn't work straight out of the box. Granted that enabling it is simply a matter of clicking the network icon in the top right and clicking Wired Network, but in my opinion this should have been automatic and not required any user input at all.

From the brief look I've had, Hardy Heron looks very promising. There are plenty of changes to the architecture underneath the distro that bring it up to date with some of the developments in other distributions (PulseAudio, for example), but the experience from the user's point of view remains one of the best and easiest of any Linux distribution available.

If you want to have a play around with the Hardy Heron beta, you can download it from the Ubuntu site.

Avatar for peter Peter Upfold -

Peter Upfold is a technology enthusiast from the UK. Peter’s interest in Linux stems back to 2003, when curiosity got the better of him and he began using SUSE 9.0. Now he runs Linux Mint 9 on the desktop, runs a CentOS-based web server from home for his personal website and dabbles in all sorts of technology things across the Windows, Mac and open source worlds.

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Discussion: My first impressions of Ubuntu Hardy Heron (8.04) Beta

  1. Sorin (guest)

    # Posted on 01 April 2008 at 05:27 PM

    Good article!

  2. imadoofus123 (guest)

    # Posted on 01 April 2008 at 05:43 PM

    oh lawd, I hope they don't start doing the whole "this program closed unexpectedly, would you like to report it" thing like in windows (and something similar in mac); I always thought those were annoying.

  3. # Posted on 03 April 2008 at 06:31 AM

    <strong>Story added...</strong>

    This story has been submitted to! If you think this story should be read by the free software community, come vote it up and discuss it here:

  4. mtelesha (guest)

    # Posted on 07 April 2008 at 04:01 PM

    I still find Ubuntu clumsy for Window Users. I haven't seen anything in this new update that will help with that issue. PCLinuxOS still better in my humble opinion. Especially when I convert people from Windows to Linux.

  5. manny (guest)

    # Posted on 09 April 2008 at 02:53 AM

    made it to the official newsletter :)

    nice first impressions

  6. # Posted on 09 April 2008 at 09:32 PM

    [...] Ubuntu Hardy Heron (8.04)&nbsp;: mes premières impressions - Hardy comporte quelques changements visuels par rapport à la version prédécedente, comme par exemple le thème légèrement modifié et le fond d&#8217;écran. Du point de vue de l&#8217;utilisateur, elle reste une des meilleures et des plus accessibles parmi les distributions Linux disponibles. [...]

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