Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron – First impressions

I’ve been following Ubuntu since it’s inception in 2005 with Warty Warthog which was labelled 4.10. Each year since then they’ve released two versions a year – one in April and one in October – and this is where the version number comes from. For example, the 8 in 8.04 is from the year 2008, and the 04 is the fourth month of the year.

Each release has been getting better, and especially the last version (7.10) which I thought was a definite contender. So Ubuntu 8.04 was released today and I’ve just finished ‘installing’ it and giving it a very quick test.

I put ‘installing’ in quotes, because if you’re running Windows, Ubuntu have created an impressive installation called Wubi. This allows you to install it on your Windows computer without having to make any changes to the disk partitions. They do this by creating a folder called Ubuntu on either your C or D drive and install all the necessary files in this folder. Then, with a simple modification to your boot options, when you first turn on your computer you can choose between Windows or Ubuntu. Here’s a screenshot of the Wubi installation manager:

Wubi installation manager

Once Wubi finished installing, I rebooted choosing the newly added Ubuntu option. Ubuntu loaded up quickly and I was presented with a login box. I had already set up the first user account in the Wubi installation manager as you can see in the installation window above. After logging, I was impressed to see that my screen resolution was set to the correct size, sound was working, and a network icon in the top menu bar indicated that there were available wireless networks available. I selected my wireless network, enter the secure key and connected successfully.

Wow.

What just happened there isn’t possible with any other operating system on my notebook. Not Windows XP, Vista or any other flavour of Linux that I’ve tested. The key hardware was detected automatically and I didn’t have to install any additional drivers or software to get up and running. That’s impressive – and all that without needing to repartition or reformat my disks.

So once again I’ve been impressed with Ubuntu, but there was one major problem – and this was a show-stopper for me. Ubuntu have always prided themselves on providing the absolute latest software and sometimes on the bleeding edge too. So I wasn’t completely surprised that they included Firefox 3.0, but I also wasn’t happy as it’s still in beta and in my opinion still has a way to go before being complete. This becomes obvious when trying to install addons, even installing the Adobe Flash plugin through up an error after just browsing for a few minutes.

For me, my internet browser is the most important tool on my computer, and I absolutely need it to be as stable as possible. That’s why I never run beta versions of Firefox as my default browser. So I tried to install Firefox 2 by using the add/remove programs applet but I couldn’t find anything apart from the version that was installed.

I’m sure that I could have installed Firefox 2 by downloading it directly from Mozilla but it just annoyed me that they would think that a beta version of Firefox would be fine for the typical home user.

One thought on “Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron – First impressions”

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