Ubuntu's Roughest-and-Toughest-Yet Takes Flight

As of about 8:15 this morning, Ubuntu — the Linux distribution that has taken the desktop world by storm — has released version 8.04 "Hardy Heron" to a flurry of cheers, frantic downloads, and — we suspect — sighs of relief from all involved. Though the GNOME-based Ubuntu has a tendency to steal the spotlight, the party also includes the KDE-based Kubuntu, Xfce-based Xubuntu, and education-focused Edubuntu.

So, what's all the fuss? Well, as always, there's the latest version of GNOME, 2.22.1, which includes a new version of Nautilus, as well as enhanced features for Evolution and Seahorse, as well as Xorg 7.3, with a much-anticipated new Screen Resolution application. There's also the 2.6.24-16.30 Linux kernel, with the new "Completely Fair Scheduler" for better interactive performance, and the power-saving properties of dynticks. There's also a new permissions system called PolicyKit; BitTorrent client Transmission replacing the GNOME downloader; Firefox 3, Beta 5; integration of sound server PulseAudio; Vinagre, a new VNC client; and much much more. Improvements have also been made to firewalling, Active Directory networks, and support for SELinux.

This version also brings enhancements to the first-time experience for Windows users, with a cleaner, more intuitive menu and the option to install Ubuntu within Windows via the Wubi installer, while still maintaining the older option of direct-booting from the CD. The full lowdown on new features is available in the release notes.

We spoke with Cody Somerville, an Ubuntu developer and leader of the Xubuntu team, and asked what he thought was the most exciting part of today's release. "Today has been both a stressful and exciting day as we've gone through the final steps to release Ubuntu 8.04. One of the biggest comments I've seen today is that people feel like this has been one of the best executed release cycles yet, and as a developer I have to agree. We're seeing some excellent growth both user-wise and contributor-wise; I'm already really looking forward to the next release, Intrepid."

We also asked about his newly-assumed role with Xubuntu, and about how the distribution is maturing. "Xubuntu, like the rest of the Ubuntu community, is seeing growth and we were experiencing some growing pains for awhile. One of our biggest struggles has been maintaining a consistent and concise vision for where we would like to see Xubuntu go. As the newly appointed Xubuntu team leader, I've been working very hard to fix that. I think we'll see Xubuntu mature significantly in the next release cycle."

Interested parties can give Hardy Heron — in whatever flavor suits their fancy — a spin by downloading and burning a CD — Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Edubuntu — though community support is encouraging downloaders to use the Ubuntu torrents due to the rush. Those who already have Ubuntu installed can update to Hardy via the normal Update Manager.

There are also Hardy Install-Fests and Release Parties being staged all over the world today — check out an Ubuntu Local Community team in your area to find out where the party's at. The IRC-friendly are encouraged to join the international party in #ubuntu-release-party on the Freenode network, while we at Linux Journal invite all our readers to join us for an impromptu celebration all day in the Linux Journal channel.

And now we must away, for our download awaits!

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