Adventures with Ubuntu 8.04

Adventures with Ubuntu 8.04

Summary: Yesterday saw the release of Ubuntu 8.04 "Hardy Heron" so I grabbed myself a copy of the .ISO and took a look.So, what's it like?


Yesterday saw the release of Ubuntu 8.04 "Hardy Heron" so I grabbed myself a copy of the .ISO and took a look.

So, what's it like?

First impressions

Hardy Heron is what I've come to expect from an Ubuntu release.

Check out the Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Hero gallery!

First off, installation is a snap, and the addition of wubi and umenu makes it easier for existing Windows users to experience Ubuntu. This is bound to be a good thing for Ubuntu and I expect other distros to follow suit.

Overall, the OS is better and faster, has new features and applications, but without any unnecessary brain-bending remix of the UI. I like the fact that I can refresh an Ubuntu install and pick up where I left off without having to re-learn the basics.

Testing Ubuntu 8.04

I haven't spent as much time with Ubuntu 8.04 as I would have liked because I've been neck-deep in XP SP3 testing. However, when I was done with that I decided to upgrade my XP SP3 test machines to Ubuntu 8.04 and see what happened.

I had two test systems, a high-end system and a very low-end one.

High-end - AMD Phenom:

  • Phenom 9700 quad-core processor
  • ATi Radeon 3850 graphics card with 256MB RAM
  • ASUS M3A32-MVP Deluxe motherboard
  • 2GB (2 x 1GB) Corsair Dominator CM2X1024-8500C5D RAM
  • Western Digital Raptor 10,000RPM 150GB primary hard drive
  • Western Digital Caviar 7,200RPM 500GB secondary hard drive

Low-end - Intel Pentium III (vintage mid-2001):

  • Intel Pentium III 800MHz
  • SIS 6326 AGP card with 8MB RAM
  • Gigabyte 6A-6VX7-4X motherboard
  • 512MB of no-name RAM
  • 60GB Western Digital 5,400RPM primary hard drive
  • 60GB Western Digital 5,400RPM secondary hard drive

Mixed results

My testing yielded mixed results.

The Phenom system took to Ubuntu well. The install was quick and painless and the system was up and running in under 20 minutes. At the end of the install everything seemed to work just fine without having to install any additional drivers. Ubuntu is fast and snappy.

The old PIII system is a different story. The process seems to get as far as telling me that the graphics card and monitor can't be detected and that the system will use low graphics and then that's as far as I get because the system seems to hang. I'm guessing that the age of this system is against it.


Topics: Hardware, Open Source, Processors

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  • If Ubuntu is aiming for mainstream

    then it's no surprise they're neglecting PIII systems. As much as some Linux fans like to boast how well Linux works on old hardware, the trade-offs needed to get it to run on the low end aren't going to appeal to the mainstream. Considering that and the fact that Canonical is supporting this thing for five years, it makes sense to keep this thing as tight and maintainable as possible.

    For those who want to use old hardware there is plenty of other distros out there that will meet their needs.
    Michael Kelly
    • Ubuntu works fine on PIII, it's the SIS video card

      • Of course anything based on i686 will "work"

        The question is whether the user will be satisfied with their experience. And considering the hanging Adrian was experiencing at the end, well, it could have been a scripting error on Ubuntu's part, or it could have been the PIII's incapability to keep up with all the instructions. Without further feedback that's tough to tell.

        Either way I would still not recommend a modern GNOME or KDE running on anything older than three years old. Even that's pushing it. I would recommend XFCE for anything older. And while XFCE is certainly functional and zippy, it lacks the eye candy and widgets that the mainstream consumer loves to have.
        Michael Kelly
        • Xubuntu 8.04

          Using the XFCE desktop with Ubuntu means using Xubuntu, the 8.04 version of which is also newly released. Visit

          Issues of eye candy aside, a plus for Xubuntu with older, slimmer systems is that it can install with considerably RAM installed than Ubuntu or Kubuntu.

          That said, the computer I use for electronic circuit analysis--Ansoft Serenade SV 8.5 and Microsim DesignLab (PSpice) 8 run fine under Wine!--and creative writing is a Pentium III running Kubuntu.

          Ubuntu *rocks*.
        • Real World Usage

          Just as a real world example, my current computer at work is a PIII 1.0G with 192M (old Gateway Professional midtower). It started out with Ubuntu and I installed XFCE on top of it. I honestly don't remember the performance of Gnome on the system since it's been so long but I do know my home-brew Xubuntu works great. I stream music from my home server (Rhythmbox) while keeping several web pages open (Firefox 3.0b4) for reference and have several ssh sessions open to various servers and the only time it hiccups is when my connection at home gets saturated and that's only a pause in the music, not the system.

          I started installing 8.04 on it before I left work last night so I expect it'll run even better when I get back there today. I can't wait to see.
          • I believe you

            My point is, however, that yours is not a mainstream application. I would consider people who still use old PIII computers with 256MB or less memory to be a niche group. Yes they are real world users, but they are not mainstream.

            So while I am sure Ubuntu can be made to work, I wouldn't expect seven year old computer support to be an area of focus on Ubuntu's part. You may get lucky, or you may have the skill to make things work, but don't expect the bigwigs promoting Ubuntu to be spending a lot of time thinking about old computers.
            Michael Kelly
          • I think I understand your point....

            If you define the term "mainstream" entirely based on sales & marketing demographics..

            You have a fair point, and it would seem to be wise for Ubuntu to keep in touch with that.
            Still they (the comunity) provide their own alternatives, or Ubuntu can be a POD (point of departure) to other Distros.

            Yet there is a Long (& Wide) tail, along with what may be considered mainstream, that more are becoming aware of. Both end users/consumers, ODM & OEM's, and even ISV & VAR's.

            Consider actual availability in common channels. Big Box Stores, Brick & Mortar or Online.

            The only ones I have seen are the ASUS EeePC,
            And they seem to be doing well.
            And they are only 800(2G) or 900(4G+) MHz Pentium's.

            And yet Still if I have an old box or the newest Dual Quad Core, one can still Download and use Linux for free, Ubuntu or Any of the others.

            Mainstream can be rather vague?
          • It certainly isn't the processor or ram

            I'm running a P3 with 256MB ram, and I just installed Hardy fresh. Everything worked perfectly. My video card and monitor resolution were detected correctly, and it hasn't crashed yet.

            Considering that it boots in under a minute on my machine, my bet is on the video card causing problems. There's no way it's the speed of the processor.
          • I have to agree with you

            It is definitely the video card. My old Dell dimension L800r with intel integrated card cannot smoothly play music video on RealPlayer while my HP Pavillion 7945 with an ATI radeon 32MB SDRAM is a different story. Running other applications is ok as long as it is not graphic intensive. My new Dell Inspiron 530 with OEM Nvidea 8300GS on Q6600 quad core processor is superb in performance with Ubuntu 8.04.including having Compiz Fusion turned on.
          • Also agreeing

            I also agree with you. I have a friend with a very old portable (think is a PII or III) with a faulty system clock. He got it from a friend who left it for dead. Then he gave it to me to see what I could do. I couldn't install Windows XP (hanged on setup), I couldn't set up Ubuntu either, but then I downloaded Xubuntu (7.04 I think) and all went well. He got to reinstall recently, and he is not an expert (he's basically a power user), but he did it with the iso I burnt for him, and told me everything was going fine. So, as the kernel is basically the same, if in doubt with your graphic card, go to Xubuntu (anyway if your software needs gnome or kde, Synaptic will download the needed libraries without messing with your desktop).
          • I guess mine is mainstream

            since it is a P-IV 2.0 GHz that is only 5 years old. Everything works fine. It has been running Xubuntu (now the 4th version)for 1.7 years without a problem. It updates painlessly.
        • You shouldn't assume from one review....

          I have PC's between 4 and 9 years old. All are running just fine with-in the Ubuntu family of desktops. The oldest our Toshiba Satellite 1735 laptop P3 w/ 384MB and the newest my custom rig a P4 2.8Ghz w/ 1.5GB and nVidia FX5200 graphics card. The desktops are running KDE and the laptop is running both Gnome and Xfce (depending on who's using it). KDE is a little heavy for the 384MB RAM but Gnome and Xfce run very well on it.<br><br>

          We have a Ubuntu Studio set up running on a Dell 4100 running a 1.0Ghz P-III. I see nothing wrong with running it on older machines.<br><br>

          As mentioned Adrian's problem could have been the SIS graphics. I know I had a similar problem when I upgraded my video adapter to a FX5200 and the system kept wanting to look at the onboard graphics adapter even when I told it to look at the slot. A quick Google and my problem was solved :)

          Just upgraded the laptop to 8.04 NICE! to the rest lol it's going to be a fun afternoon :)
      • My experience

        Little headaches, detailed over at
      • Exactly

      • Not so quick there, pjotr123

        I have a Dell Optiplex 100 with integrated graphics (which 7:10 recognized and supports at 1400x1050 with no problem). Even running the LiveCD of 8.04, I can only get 800x600 with zero option to use a higher resolution. It ain't the PIII and it ain't the graphics. It's the OS release. Something got futzed that needs to get fixed.
    • OS X Leopard will run on any Mac circa 2001

      So that's not an excuse.
      • Try throwing that SIS video card in the Mac and see how it does.

        Yeah, I know you can't, that's the point. If Linux had to support only 10 or 20 video cards like Mac OSX does, they'd all work too; but in the real world there are several thousand possible video cards, and some of them don't get supported. Its not an excuse, its reality; deal with it.
        • good point

          This is a valid and a good point.
      • I don't think so

        It won't install in several PowerBook G4 (2002). Maybe using some hacks but if Apple decided that Leopard should not install in those computers it may not be a good idea to try to force things.
        • True

          My daughter's G4 was out of luck. It just would not install at all.