There’s a good concise summary of Hardy Heron installation and upgrade options over at Tombuntu.
I’ve been running the beta version via upgrade from Gutsy 7.10, and continually receiving updates, for the last month or so. I guess with this last round of updates I’ll officially be running Hardy Heron 8.04 LTS.
On the surface the changes between Gutsy 7.10 and Hardy 8.04 don’t appear dramatic, which is a good thing since Gutsy really didn’t need dramatic changes in my opinion, just a little spit’n’polish. Since this is an Long Term Support (LTS), Hardy Desktop users can expect security updates for the next 3 years.
Here’s a few things I have noticed as a user, without digging too much “under the hood”.
There are new “unlock” buttons on some (but not all) of the configuration dialogs, as part of PolicyKit. Configuration dialogs like the Network Manager now require you to authenticate with your password before changing settings by clicking on the little “unlock button”; previously you could not view these dialogs at all without authenticating. PolicyKit also brings a new “Authorizations” configurator accessible from the “Administration” menu, which allows tweaking of when users will require authorization for different tasks (eg, mounting removable devices, shutdown, suspend, hibernate, access to sound devices etc). These could be really useful for locking down public/semi-public terminals, and keeping the kids for messing up the family PC.
Also under the “Administration” menu – “Restricted Drivers” has been renamed to “Hardware Drivers” and there is a new “Windows Wireless Drivers” option. There is also a new “Hardware Testing” wizard which runs some hardware tests, asks some questions and sends the data to Ubuntu Launchpad to help with improving hardware compatibility.
Oh, and Firefox 3.0 replaces the 2.x series. Firefox 3.0 is a better choice in the long term, since it seems to shed some of the sluggishness and memory bloat that was creeping into the Firefox 2.x series, but in the short term some of your Firefox Add-ons (aka Extensions) may be disabled under Firefox 3.0 until they are updated by their maintainers.
I’m sure there’s more I haven’t noticed yet. But usually not noticing things means everything is just working as you’d expect, so this is a Good Thing(tm). For more, see the official overview of new features and changes in Hardy from Ubuntu.
The danger of living on the bleeding edge: two big glitches I experienced running “unofficial” Hardy during the beta period
Firstly, the linux-image (kernel) updates were often out of sync with the corresponding linux-restricted-modules updates, meaning Xorg couldn’t use the proprietory Nvidia video drivers. Unlike Linux distributions of yesteryear, Ubuntu now handles this gracefully, and Xorg will still start, just without the accelerated drivers. Making sure my original Xorg.conf was in use and booting back into the older kernel fixed the problem. This was purely a ‘running beta’ issue and almost certainly won’t happen in the official release.
My second issue was with the new Pulseaudio server refusing to play sound. It seemed to be locking the sound device, or something seemed to be locking it and not letting Pulseaudio have it. I haven’t got to the bottom of it, and have been too busy with other things participate in bug reports. A temporary (but very ugly) fix was to run $ sudo /usr/bin/pulseaudio –system. I’m just hoping that this will be finally fixed in the official Hardy release … else I’ll have to get on the Ubuntu forums or Launchpad and troubleshoot it.