Ubuntu’s upcoming release, Hardy Heron, has already arrived in the beta stage. I’ve been using it for a while and since I’m now at my dad’s computer, which runs Gutsy Gibbon, the contrast is more clear and I think this would be a good opportunity to write a first review. Because Ubuntu is a distribution and thus a compilation of different programs this review probably won’t go just about Ubuntu, the software shipped with it will get maybe even the most attention.
The initial update to hardy went smooth and even quite fast. Because it will be a Long Term Support release it hasn’t got loads of new features but still it contains some fancy new stuff. One of the most important and noticeable changes is the inclusion of Firefox 3, which is still beta and will be beta until June. Changes there includes improved searching when typing an address(you can now also search for titles), dynamic bookmarks and changed notification dialogues. The remind password box now looks like the missing plugin notification and the page continues to loading when this box is present. This allows you for example to check if the login data you inserted was right before you safe it. You can find the latest release notes here: Mozilla Firefox 3 Beta 4 Release Notes.
Another major improvement is GNOME 2.22. Changes there include Cheese, an instant photo-make program with live filters, which looks a bit like Photo Boot, the new and improved virtual file system GVFS from GTK+, which replaces the deprecated GNOME VFS. Other changes in GNOME are support for digital television for Totem, the clock is extended to a world clock with weather forecast support and of course a lot of bug fixes. For the complete release note see the GNOME Release Notes.
Another change that a lot of users will probably like, but which wrecked system administration for me, is that PolicyKit is now added. When you want to change settings that require root permissions you can press the Unlock button in the system tool window and the rights will be granted to you! Using the new system tool Authentication you can give or take specific users the right to do certain actions.
Other changes in Ubuntu are the 2.6.24 kernel which adds more power management support to the amd64 platform and is said to extend the battery life of laptops with half an hour, Brasero, a new and simple CD/DVD burner, PulseAudio, which allows to set volume levels for each application, Transmission, a fancy Bittorent client, Vinagre for VNC and a lot of more nice stuff. Ubuntu has also release notes and the one for the beta can be found here: Ubuntu 8.04 Beta Release Notes.
I can surely say that I like the new releases, although some thins don’t work yet or not smoothly. Things feel more mature and (again that word) smooth. The new wallpaper just looks beautiful. Ubuntu really IS getting better every release and I think with every one of those new releases Ubuntu becomes more and more suitable for everyone. From now on you can really say that people who don’t know much about computers can handle Linux. It’s just a matter of adaptation and getting used to it. I would really recommend everyone to upgrade to Hardy Heron as soon as it is released or when they really can’t wait (like me) now.
I’m also already dreaming of the next release, Intrepid Ibex, which will be released in Octobre. Just like edgy it will be a bit unstable but contain a lot of new features. If you see how much progress Ubuntu has made since breezy(that was the first version of Ubuntu I used) there is no doubt it will be a great release. But first we need to deliver and maintain Hardy Heron, so that means a lot of bug triaging for me. 😉
(I know I’m not the first and most likely also not the last one who writes a review about this release of Ubuntu. But I wanted to share you my thoughts (and fill my blog ;)). And also don’t forget that how more people write about Ubuntu/Linux/GNU, how more people probably are going to use it. So I’m doing something good for ‘the community’ too. 😉