A first look at Ubuntu 8.04 – Hardy Heron

Yesterday evening, I installed the spanking new Hardy Heron on my laptop. This post is not going to be a complete review, but I will just cover the major points. For more information, please refer to my twitter timeline. I just don’t have enough time on my hands for a complete review.

  • No installation problems. Installs under 30 minutes for a clean install.
  • The laptop is more snappy now. I run a Dell Inspiron 6400 with Intel Core 2 Duo at 1.73 MHz and 1 GB RAM with 1 GB swap space. The system boots up faster, responds well and shuts down much faster compared to Gutsy.
  • Firefox 3 Beta is stable, no bugs or crashes until now
  • I installed the server apps today. I run Apache, MySQL and PHP – this took me some time to backup and restore the databases and blogs. Nothing to do with those apps though
  • The repositories seem to be heavily loaded now. So I advice to select the Best Server from the Synaptic package manager.
  • Wireless works. Ethernet works(it should, ain’t it?), Compiz works, OpenOffice.org works, codecs downloaded for the various media types. Pretty much all the standard stuff work.
  • Installing additional applications might take some time. For example, AWN is included in the repo but not many applets are available. So I had to add another source and install from it. I had the latest Flash version downloaded, so that was a snap to install. I prefer Amarok to Rhythmbox, so I installed it.
  • On the bad side, my laptop froze twice in two days. Yes it froze! Just like windows. Mouse did not respond neither did the keyboard. Ctrl+Backspace did not work either. So it was not X problem.
  • Most of the old GNOME GTK Icon themes don’t seem to work. Not sure what the problem is. My favorite Mac OSX Icon theme displays the default GNOME folder icon. This is the case with most other themes too. Has something changed in the way themes have to be created for GNOME 2.22? No idea.
  • Suspend works perfectly. Hibernate works, but considering the time taken to wake up, one can shut down and restart.
  • Brightness management seems to have gone bad. I am able to use the Fn key and get only two levels of brightness which forces me to add the Brightness management applet on the panel. I used to get ten levels in Gutsy.
  • Movie player does not play more than 8 sec of VOB files from DVD. VLC has no issues though. The file is just 1024 MB and had no issues on Gutsy.
  • Bluetooth worked after installing the Bluetooth File Sharing from Add/Remove programs. If this is required, why cant it be installed by default? I was able to send and received files to my Nokia phone but was not able to browse the phone on the computer. I was able to do this on Gutsy after installing gnome-vfs-obexftp but no luck here.
  • Apart from these minor irritations, the release is pretty good. I would not say solid because and OS freezing a computer cannot be called solid.

The real test for this release will be on the coming weekend when I will install it on my 7 year old P III computer running at 1.1 GHz and having 256 MB RAM with no graphics capability whatsoever. Gutsy is running pretty slow. I want to see how the Heron fares. No, dont suggest me to try Xubuntu. We are talking about Ubuntu here 😉

My conclusion is everyone can use this distribution, but some hand holding might be required for newbies. I should say that this is one of the releases that I had to spend more time on setting up the computer. This is also partly due to the fact that I have a lot of stuff to backup and restore.

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10 responses to “A first look at Ubuntu 8.04 – Hardy Heron

  1. same problem with the brightness…
    I’ve looked all over the forums and random blogs but still no news about that issue.
    if u hear anything please post it! =)

  2. @joel, thanks for the comment. Sure will post if I find a solution to the brightness problem.

    Cheers,
    Bala

  3. So how did Heron fare on your 256mb RAM system? Because I’m planning on installing it onto my PC with that much RAM.

  4. @Frances, I did install Hardy on my PIII system with 256 MB RAM. I should also mention that I had 512 MB as swap space.The installation took about an hour. The system is pretty good. It is noticeably faster than Gutsy. I can use most of the applications. Openoffice.org takes a while to load but for basic internet and email use it is very handy. Do drop me a line on your experience if you install on a similar hardware.

  5. When I checked my system’s memory it read 224mb, so I don’t think I can load the LiveCD installer. I’ve decided to use Xubuntu instead, until I can upgrade my RAM. So what will I miss out on if I choose Xubuntu over Ubuntu?

  6. @Frances, your system should still be able to load the live cd installer. I don’t see a considerable difference between 224 MB and 256 MB.

    Well, when you go with Xubuntu, you dont miss anything. Just that it has a lighter window manager, different look and feel and different set of applications. You should still be able to use all the apps that are available for Ubuntu. In fact, Xubuntu is the ideal candidate for such old systems.

  7. I’ve the same problem with the theme icons. We hope that this problem will be corrected soon.

  8. @piponazo, I read that this is because of the way the icons are named has been changed to comply with a usability guideline. I am not able to recall which one at the moment.

  9. hi
    i am very new to ubuntu.i have installed ubuntu 8.04 in my laptop. can you please tel me how can i play various multi media formats?by default it is not supporting

  10. @ntihun, Ubuntu 8.04 does not support multimedia playback of popular formats such as mp3 or mp4 video. Once you try to play a file, you should get a prompt which would ask you to install the driver and lets you select the one you wish to install. A working internet connection is required for this.

    Otherwise, try to install the packages manually, but being try this only if you don’t have an internet connection. Installing over the internet is the simplest way to do it.

    Cheers,
    Bala

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