First look at Ubuntu 8.04 "Hardy Heron" beta

First look at Ubuntu 8.04 "Hardy Heron" beta

Summary: Ubuntu 8.04 "Hardy Heron" has just entered the beta phase of development - and that means another 650+MB download and some good hands-on time with my favorite Linux distro!


Ubuntu 8.04 "Hardy Heron" has just entered the beta phase of development - and that means another 650+MB download and some good hands-on time with my favorite Linux distro!

I first took a look at Ubuntu 8.04, codenamed Hardy Heron, back in February when it was in the Alpha 4 stage.  While that release was functional, it was also a bit unfinished and a little rough in places.  This beta release in comparison is a lot more polished and refined.  There are still a small number of known bugs that need dealing with, but overall "Hardy Heron" is racing towards the finish line.

Check out the Ubuntu 8.04 beta "Hardy Heron" galleries - Installation | OS tour

First look at Ubuntu 8.04 ‘Hardy Heron’ beta

So, what's new/changed in Ubuntu 8.04?

Making it easier for Windows users | GNOME -->

Check out the Ubuntu 8.04 beta "Hardy Heron" galleries - Installation | OS tour

Making it easier for Windows users to experience Ubuntu

For non-Linux users out there, the most significant changes present in Ubuntu 8.04 will be those related to making it easier to take Ubuntu for a test spin without hosing an existing Windows installation.

The first change that the Ubuntu dev team have made in the hopes that it will encourage Windows users to become Ubuntu users is the addition of Wubi.  Using Wubi users can install and later uninstall Ubuntu through Windows as though it's a Windows application in its own right.  No partitions or changes to the bootloader are required to play with Ubuntu.

First look at Ubuntu 8.04 ‘Hardy Heron’ beta

The next change aimed at converting Windows users is the umenu launcher.  This works in conjunction with Wubi and allows the user to decide how to install Ubuntu.  The advantage that umenu offers is that it works independent of whether the user has set the CD/DVD drive as the first boot device, thus making the first rung onto the ladder of being an Ubuntu user even lower.

First look at Ubuntu 8.04 ‘Hardy Heron’ beta

GNOME 2.22 and Nautilus

Hardy Heron beta incorporates GNOME 2.22 which brings with it a whole raft of new features, changes, fixes and improvements (I'll cover some of these later).  One of the most significant changes is the new Nautilus file manager that uses the GVFS virtual file system.

First look at Ubuntu 8.04 ‘Hardy Heron’ beta

More tweaks and changes -->

Check out the Ubuntu 8.04 beta "Hardy Heron" galleries - Installation | OS tour

Firefox 3.0 Beta 4

Firefox 2.0 has been replaced by Firefox 3.0 Beta 4 as the default browser in Ubuntu.  This updated version of Firefox integrates better with the rest of the Ubuntu 8.04 UI.

First look at Ubuntu 8.04 ‘Hardy Heron’ beta


CD and DVD burning just got a lot easier with Brasero.  While this application is nowhere near as versatile (or dizzyingly complex) as a disc burning suite such as Nero, I like Brasero because it’s wonderfully quick and easy to use packed with all the useful features I need.

First look at Ubuntu 8.04 ‘Hardy Heron’ beta

World Clock applet

Technically the World Clock applet is a GNOME 2.22 improvement but I included it here are a significant Ubuntu change.  It supports multiple time/weather display and is easily customizable.

First look at Ubuntu 8.04 ‘Hardy Heron’ beta

Transmission BitTorrent

Transmission has become the default BitTorrent client, replacing the GNOME BitTorrent download utility.  It’s small, fast and easy to use.  Can't ask for much more!

First look at Ubuntu 8.04 ‘Hardy Heron’ beta

Vinagre VNC client

Another Ubuntu application that been replaced is xvnc4viewer.  In its place is Vinagre.  This allows the user to work with multiple systems from the one desktop.  Not only will this allow users to remote desktop into other Ubuntu systems but it will also allow users to connect to Windows XP and Windows Vista systems where remote desktop has been enabled.

First look at Ubuntu 8.04 ‘Hardy Heron’ beta

System Monitor

I'll admit to being very impressed by the System Monitor utility in Ubuntu. 

First look at Ubuntu 8.04 ‘Hardy Heron’ beta

Security and conclusion -->

Check out the Ubuntu 8.04 beta "Hardy Heron" galleries - Installation | OS tour


PolicyKit is a security/privilege feature that allows an administrator to unlock certain features to allow their use by a normal user.

First look at Ubuntu 8.04 ‘Hardy Heron’ beta

Also new is the Authorizations panel.  This allows an administrator to have total control over what system functions each user is able to access.

First look at Ubuntu 8.04 ‘Hardy Heron’ beta

Other changes

Some other Ubuntu 8.04 changes worth noting include:

  • The upgraded kernel (now 2.6.24-12.13), which brings with it power management for 64-bit users, kernel-based virtualization and the "Completely Fair Scheduler" process.
  • The PulseAudio sound server that allows advanced audio operations to be carried out on the sound data as it is transferred between the application and the sound hardware.
  • Active Directory support.
  • The inclusion of ufw (Uncomplicated Firewall) host-based firewall.

Final thoughts

I like Ubuntu.  With each incarnation I'm seeing improvements and betterments that make the OS better, more robust, more user friendly and more fully-featured.  In fact, Ubuntu 8.04 is the first Linux distro that I've come across that I would consider loading onto my notebook to replace Windows.  Throughout my testing Ubuntu 8.04 beta has been reliable and performed flawlessly.

Bottom line, Hardy Heron is, for me at least, the best Linux distro ever.

The final release of Ubuntu 8.04 has been scheduled for release in April.


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  • Ubuntu

    My only concern with Ubuntu and other Linux Distros has been incompatibility issues with wireless equipment and games. However, Ubuntu continues to improve and I have high hopes for the future versions of Linux.
    • hardware compatibility

      Linux hardware issues can be laid squarely at the feet of the hardware manufacturers themselves. Take Via, for instance. Via makes fast, fully featured, high quality video cards. But they only release firmware for Windows. My computer's motherboard, an ASUS A8V-VM, has a VIA chipset with a DeltaChrome 9 video system. In Windows, this is great. But there are no Linux drivers for it anywhere. So I use an NVIDIA card instead, which is completely supported by Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy.
      • WiFi issues

        I agree - I would be using Ubuntu if I could get my Broadcom wireless card up and running. It's not supported by ndiswrapper. As soon as either ubuntu supports everything, or the hardware manufacturers release drivers, its still not quite worth it for me.
        • WiFi indeed!

          I could get Ubuntu Gutsy and wifi working with my Broadcom card but, it took hours and even then, it never worked right. I tried Hardy the other day and it was even worse! I could NEVER get it working and I am no newbie here. What worked? LinuxMint which, with merely 2 clicks, had my wifi up and working superbly! LinuxMint is Ubuntu done right. Oh, I WANT to use Ubuntu but, they apparently don't consider wifi with laptops an important issue.

          Well, whenever I go to wifi hotspots they see LinuxMint running and not Ubuntu. I'll continue with LinuxMint since setup is waaaaaay easier and it appears more polished. Having said that, Ubuntu Hardy seems to run fine via VMware Fusion on my MacBook Pro.

          Come on Ubuntu, really, this is unacceptable today considering there are many get cheap laptops expressly for the purpose of making them Linux only machines. You're missing the Big Picture by overlooking this wifi issue.
          • Broadcom and Ubuntu

            I made several efforts during the summer of 2006 to get Ubuntu running on my Dell laptop with its Broadcom card. If it had worked I'd happily be using Linux now. Instead, I'm a more-than-happy MacBook Pro user. It's not entirely Ubuntu's fault that they don't work properly with Broadcom cards, since the manufacturer hasn't released the driver specs. However, it's nice to see there's a distribution out there that does support Broadcom. My oldest son inherited the Dell laptop...he'll be happy to know about LinuxMint.
          • I'm with you... Sort of.

            I'm a happy kubuntu 6.06.2 LTS user. It is a stable and well integrated OS. I've put off installing all newer releases because of ONE THING. The broadcom wireless card I have installed works just fine on 6.06. Any future version won't even see the card outside of the hardware ID. If I try to utilize it at all in future versions, it simply won't work. So, upgrading would break my online capabilities. This won't work for me. I just thank the gods for live discs. If it weren't for them, I would have learned this fact the hard way.
          • Dell laptops

            See, I have a Dell Vostro 1000. Paid $400 for it and then added a total of 2GB memory.

            It took me a total of 13 minutes to install LinuxMint. I rebooted and selected "restricted drivers" which had correctly identified the Broadcom wifi and ATI hardware. I chose to install both. 2 clicks. I rebooted and my home network was recognized immediately. I logged in and that's it!

            With Ubuntu Gutsy is took hours of searching the Ubuntu forums and then trying several fixes. One worked but, I had to log in every 30 minutes. A royal pain. I tried Hardy thinking that for sure, they had dealt with this VERY common problem. Not so, incredibly. I would have thought otherwise. I love what they are all doing at Ubuntu. I mean, like I said, I'd LOVE to run Ubuntu on my Dell Vostro but, until they deal with this, it's Linux Mint for me. It just works better. For me. I fully realize that with any Linux distro, "it just depends" on what works for you and your hardware. Hardy Heron works fine on my MacBook Pro, go figure. Still, I'm not bashing Ubuntu at all. I'll keep working at it as long as they do!
          • How did you...

            ... install Ubuntu on MacBook Pro. On my MacBook it wont even start the LiveCD. It hangs on a Kernal Panick error.
          • Broadcom support

            Since Ubuntu 7.10 my wireless cards have worked as well as with Windows XP. I do not use Ubuntu outwith my home desktop and hope that you who roam should have a similar benefit.
            The Ubuntu forums provided me with all the information, I needed, to made my wireless transition to Ubuntu complete.
            My 18 month experience with Ubuntu has converted me to this Linux Distro. I am now replacing my Windows facilities with their Linux equivalents, and when XP is unsupported this will have been completed.
          • Did you get WEP to work in Linux Mint? (nt)

            hasta la Vista, bah-bie
        • really? WIFI

          I've gotten all my broadcom (bcmwl5 drivers anyway) working ....what drivers do you have .,,,maybe i can help you with a fix

        • WiFi issues

          Same here if wireless worked I would switch in a heartbeat!
        • WiFi and other various problems

          I also have had trouble getting my NetGear Wireless card working in Ubuntu. I would really like to start using Linux and my sole OS, but there are just so many weird problems that pop up with every distro. I tried Fedora a year or so ago and my mouse wouldn't work. It wasn't anything fancy like a wireless laser or bluetooth mouse. Just a plain old mouse. The other grip I have about Ubuntu is that I have to install the latest Flash to get Videos in YouTube working. To install it you also have to have some knowledge about directory navigation in a terminal window and installing programs in terminal. Arrgh!!

          I tried installing Hardy Heron and couldn't get into the program because I got stuck in some sort of a weird login loop that asked for my login before I even installed the program so I didn't even know what login and password they were looking for. It's just little things like the ones I've mentioned above that is keeping Linux out of the mainstream. Stuff like Flash video, wireless and mice should just work, no matter what. All the best features of every distro should be combined into one Uber-Distro that can finally appeal to us newbies!
        • Ralink Wireless USB adaptor

          For what its worth to anyone out there, I have had success with Ubuntu 7.04 and 7.10, and with Mint and with Mepis6 and 7. I have not yet had success with Fedora Core 8 or with Debian4 or with Sabayon3.4. I can move this pluggable wireless adapter between any of my 7 computers - I use a wireless router to make broadband available anywhere in my home. In every case I had to manually set it up, and often blacklist the RA2500 driver. It took a lot of effort but it works without problem. I tried ndiswrapper, but this was only successful on one occasion, and I don't use it.
      • Not entirely true

        A fair bit of blame can also be laid at the feet of Linux
        zealots who act like vampires with a cross in their face
        whenever someone approaches with a binary driver.

        Ubuntu with its asinine "tainted kernel" warnings is a prime
        • The people who sell the hardware can give away the software

          In fact, all they need to do is release the specs and the community will gladly write the drivers for them.

          Binary blobs are unnecessary, and are indicative of a "tainted community interaction" by vendors with hidden intentions or just a complete ignorance of what's actually going on.

          Before we reach the clearing there's another generation of me-me-me'ists to fight our way through.
      • Agreed....

        ...hardware manufacturers will always go to the mass market solution.

        It's funny how with Linux, hardware issues are the manufacturers problem, but with Vista, it's Microsofts problem...I guess it's one rule for one OS, one rule for the others...
        • No stable driver model

          Vista screwed up drivers by breaking the driver interface that had worked in Win2k and XP. This was apparently done to placate Tellywood, who wanted to turn Vista into a DRM-infested media player, screw the rest of you.

          Linux' driver model is broken because Linus is fanatical about source-code collection. That counts more than a working system. So he routinely breaks the rather delicate binary interface, so that new kernels need new binary drivers. Thus the sources to the drivers have to go into the kernel source tree. But that reveals the gory details of the hardware, which many vendors don't like, especially with higher-end (non-commodity) hardware. And with WiFi, there are issues about meeting national regs; fully open source drivers may not always be legal.

          A smarter idea would be to design a kernel around userland drivers, which would allow blobs to sit there harmlessly. MINIX 3 does this, but then it's basically a lab hack right now with hardly any drivers to use its improved design. Linux is based on an ancient Unix design that can't do anything meaningful without kernel access.

          For some odd reason, Linux drivers are so delicate that even if they work in one distro, they don't work in the next. Mint seems to do a better job than the Ubuntu that it starts from. Obviously XP doesn't have this problem since it's one vendor. It shouldn't happen in Linux, but it's the norm. Probably >95% of work done on writing Linux code is redundant, since each distro reinvents the wheel over and over.
      • VIA+Everex+gOS (which is based on Ubuntu)=working VIA Chrome9

        You might want to look at that distro.
    • Agreed...

      I gave Feisty Fawn a good run for its money but got sick of the non-functionality of the wireless client for true road warriors who are connecting to anything from the latest encryption (WEP has been hacked for several years, where's WPA2?) to open APs. Admittedly there were sparsely documented "patches" (e.g. wpa_supplicant) available for those with the patience. But bottomline, Ubuntu was less than road worthy out of the box, plain and simple.

      Admittedly, I never gave Gutsy Gibbon a try, but I haven't had a solid week of troubleshooting to spare that it took to get my wireless card up and running under Feisty Fawn. So basically I am waiting for someone like Adrian to tell me that the Wifi OOBE is seamless. Is it? I can't be the only one in the crazy world that uses WPA2!!!!!!