Ubuntu 8.04 'Hardy Heron' Review

Last week, Canonical Ltd finally released the much anticipated Ubuntu 8.04 LTS 'Hardy Heron'. Unlike its Windows or Mac OS counterpart, Ubuntu users only have to wait for six months for a new version to come out. All the same, while we don't need to wait for long to try out the new features and improvements with every new Ubuntu release, the relatively short development cycle also comes with it's fair share of flaws most noticeably, unresolved minor and major bugs with the operating system.
Although the beta version of Hardy Heron has been out for a while before, I never bothered to try out that one and opted to wait for the full version. It took me 7 hours to download both the desktop and alternative version of Ubuntu 8.04 on release day. By evening I'm ready to upgrade my PC to Hardy Heron.

Although I do use Ubuntu as my primary OS, I still keep my Windows XP installation (I dual boot) for some reasons. I use Ubuntu to surf the Internet, blog, download, listen to music and watch DVDs and videos and pretty much everything else, I still need Windows XP to play my fave PC games and edit some Word and Excel documents. Although Open Office.org is a swell office application, somehow, it will always screw up my Word and Excel documents formatting and I hate to adjust them all over again every time. Other than that, the day I can play Football Manager or Need for Speed on Ubuntu or any other Linux distro will be the day I'll say goodbye to Windows for good.
FYI, I actually use Ubuntu Studio Edition instead of the regular Ubuntu or Kubuntu partly because of the various multimedia programs included with it and mostly because of the cool black and blue theme. After some Googling, I found out that I need to use the Ubuntu 8.04 alternate CD for the upgrade. After inserting the disc, a dialog bog will come out asking whether I would like to upgrade my Ubuntu system to the newer version.
After clicking yes, the automatic upgrading process will start and you'll just have to wait from 30 minutes to an hour depending on your hardware speed. Oh and make sure you click 'no' when asked whether you'd like to check online for the latest update cause that'll take a long-long time. My upgrade process lasted approximately 45 minutes and towards the end I was asked whether I would like to remove all my obsolete programs? I don't remember having obsolete programs installed on my PC but I clicked yes anyway.

After restarting my PC (I don't need to but I did anyway), that's when all the problems started to crop out. First I can delete anything to my Trash can. Then I can't use my numeric keypad but the final straw is when I can't transfer photos from my digital camera anymore. What's happening here? Is it just my PC or Hardy Heron is not compatible with Ubuntu Studio Edition?

That leave me no choice but to perform a clean install of Hardy Heron on my PC. I have all my data stored on separate partitions but I will loose all my old e-mails because I just can't figure where they are stored (and no, there's no such folder as /home/afif/-mozillathunderbird). The good news is I always left a copy of all my e-mails on the server so actually I won't loose anything.

The installation process was a breeze and I'm done in just 30 minutes on my 3.0 GHz Pentium 4 with 1GB of RAM. Just make sure you disconnect from the Internet because Ubuntu will always attempt to get the latest update from there during installation.
First impression? Well I must say I'm pretty impressed with the new default Hardy Heron wallpaper which is definitely much more eye-catching compared to the previous boring swirling design on Gutsy Gibbon.
The first thing I did was to change the color of the taskbar to transparent which made my desktop looked even more cool.
Ubuntu 8.04 correctly set my resolution to 1280 x 1024 but I can still get up to 1600 x 1200 resolution on my 17" monitor. Default network setting is still on roaming so I have to manually change it to DHCP. You can modify and customize many aspects of your Ubuntu system such as Appearance, Bluetooth setting, Keyboard shortcut, screen savers and screen resolutions and many more using the Preferences and Administration menu bar. Too bad my Nvidia GeForce fried a few months ago so now I'm just using a cheap ATI Radeon 9200 graphic card. Therefore I can't uitilize all those awesome Compiz visual effect. Heck even the cool MatrixView screen saver looked awful on my screen.
Hardy Heron uses the GNOME's Nautilus 2.22.2 graphical shell for file browsing. Maybe it's because I've been using the black and blue Ubuntu Studio Edition for so long but the default orange theme looked quite nice for a change.
Tomboy Notes and the Tracker Search Tool are among the new Accessories installed by default in Hardy Heron. The good old stuff like Dictionary, Calculator, Gedit text editor is still there. Anybody knows what the Tracker Search Tool is for? I don't think it really works.
The spanking new OpenOffice.org 2.4 opens a lot faster than its predecessor OpenOffice.org 2.3. My Word documents formatting is still in shambles though but my Excel documents formatting has definitely improved. They now looked exactly the same, both in Excel and Calc. Hardy Heron installs Presentation, Word Processor, Spreadsheet and Evolution Mail and Calendar by default in its Office Tools. Since I already use Thunderbird as my e-mail client, I have yet to try out Evolution Mail. Of course you can always install a lot more free office and productivity tools using the Synaptics Package Manager. Ubuntu also detects and install my HP Deskjet D1400 printer in like 10 seconds.
For photo management and graphic editing, Ubuntu 8.04 comes with F-Spot Photo Manager, GIMP Image Editor, XSane Image Scanner and also OpenOffice.org Drawing. GIMP Image Editor is now almost as good as Adobe Photoshop plus its free and XSane detect and scan photos effortlessly from my HP scanner. Apart from that, you can also upload photos to your Flickr or Picasa Web gallery (among others) direct from F-Spot but somehow this feature still fails to work on my Ubuntu system.
Nevertheless, F-Spot did detect my Nikon L10 camera and I managed to transfer all my photos and video with just one click. I can also synchronize and transfer mp3 files to my Ipod Shuffle using GTKpod without any hassle. No installation or driver needed.
For sound and video, Hardy Heron came pre-installed with Totem Movie Player (for movie playback), Rythmbox Music Player (for music files), Sound Juicer audio CD extractor, Sound Recorder and Brasero for disc burning. Still, I prefer to use VLC which can play almost every file format on the planet for my movies and Audacious to listen to my music files cause it does sound a lot better than Rythmbox. Brasero works just as good as Gnomebaker and I've burned about a dozen CDs already without a glitch.
Despite still in Beta, Firefox 3 is certainly much leaner and faster than its predecessor. I can certainly tell the difference with my snail speed Maxis Broadband wireless Internet. Firefox 3 with its Ubuntu customized icons automatically detect the missing plugins and it let me choose between Swfdec, Adobe and Gnash Flash player for the Flash plugin. I logged in into my YM and MSN account using Pidgin Internet Messenger and I use Transmission for all my torrent needs. I have yet to try Ekigo Softphone (for web based telephony) or Remote Desktop Viewer though.

For bugs, I still can't connect to my Kubuntu and Windows PC and Samba crashes every time I opened it. The shutdown menu also took some time to respond for some reason. Overall I'm quite satisfied with Ubuntu 8.04 and I think it has some significance improvements from 7.10 (despite its minor bugs). Although it's not even a month yet after it's release, Hardy Heron have received quite a number of negative reviews form its users base especially with the bugs. I think it's still early time to judge or censure Ubuntu 8.04 yet with its shortcomings. I'm sure they can only improve from here on. So in a nutshell, my thumbs up for Ubuntu 8.04 'Hardy Heron'!


  1. I wish I was a tech person to play with all these fun stuff. Unfortunately I'm not so better stick with productivity..haha..

  2. Actually Ubuntu or Linux nowadays is not that hard to install on your PC really. With Ubuntu 8.04 for example, you can even install it on your Windows like any other normal software and dual boot later on. Go on, give it a try, I guarantee you won't regret it!