When Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu, announced that Ubuntu 8.04 named Hardy Heron would be an LTS, it generated a lot of interests in the Ubuntu community. Since an LTS is a Long Term Support Edition. As it is known to most of you, an LTS will be supported on Desktops for two and a half years and on Servers for 5 years. So it is very clear that LTS will be the most stable release among all the other releases and everyone wanted it badly because many of them had bitter experiences with previous releases of Ubuntu other than Dapper Drake in terms of stability. Users were thinking almost like this, "We want one Stable version as rock solid as possible in atleast one complete Debian Release Cycle".
Every stage in the development of Hardy was welcomed with lot of speculations. There were mixed opionions about its stability, features, security etc after each Alpha release. When Beta was released most of them started speaking against Hardy. Some of them even went to the extent of saying Hardy is not fit to be an LTS. Then came the Release Candidate. Again there were lot of mixed opinions. But still everyone waited for the final release more anxiously than they waited for other releases simply because Hardy is an LTS. Unfortunately I could not test any of the test versions due to the shortage of Hard Disk space. So even I waited very very anxiously. There were lots of anticipation and speculation.
Today morning I woke up at 6 AM (All time in IST) and kept the release page, i.e releases.ubuntu.com open to get the link to download as soon as possible.I kept on refreshing the page every 5-10 minutes. I was highly frustrated since I was badly waiting for the release. In the mean time I made all the preparations and made backup of all the data, since I had planned for a fresh install because I had messed up my Gutsy. Nothing great happened till 1:30 PM and I thought of having a short nap. But unfortunately I woke up at 4:15PM and before going for Lunch I just checked out releases.ubuntu.com and it said ubuntu-8.04-desktop available. I downloaded the torrent file. I started the download with Azureus. I think I was among the first ones to know about the release. Download started happening at an amazing rate. It downloaded at 200 KBps flat by taking around 1 hour 08 minutes to download. I then burnt it into the CD and did a reboot from the CD.
Now started the series of confusions. I was just in the hang over of previous Ubuntu's CD boot method, but when the CD boot menu appeared it first asked me to select the language but the 30 seconds timer kept on running in the background. After this screen disappeared, I was looking for Start or Install Ubuntu, but I found there were 2 separate options, one saying Start Ubuntu without any risk to your system (I don't remember the lines exactly), the other said Install Ubuntu. I thought for a while and selected the latter one. Now came the amazing thing. The whole thing did boot in less than 5 minutes. Gutsy LiveCD used to take nearly 20 minutes for me to boot. But this time there was no Desktop, that means I could no more do other activities or browse the internet while installing Hardy.
The 7 steps procedure to reach Salvation :) (getting Ubuntu installed) has been retained. But in the second step where we are asked to select the time zone, the list has been highly categorized making the life of users easy to search for their cities. I selected Manual Partition option in step 4. There were small changes here and there but its easy for one to make out. It has been targetted to make things easy for beginners, especially Winblow$ users. And as usual there was Winblow$ profile import, username settings and summary stage. Finally the installation started and I dont know what to say. I think I can refer to this as Blitzkrieg. The entire installation was over in less than 15 minutes and I was ready to boot with Hardy. I took out the CD and rebooted the system.
I was shocked. I was really shocked. System did boot in 35 seconds. I could not believe it. I quickly logged in. The looks were very impressive. GNOME's default theme for Hardy was rocking. I started FireFox and I was taken by surprise again. Hardy has FireFox 3 Beta 5 by default. Though this is a Beta this as stable as any other stable browsers and fit to be called as Stable. There is something every Software Developer must learn from FireFox developers, but more on it in a separate article. I was using FireFox 3 Beta 5 on Gutsy and was thinking about downloading it, but Hardy has it by default. Anyhow what more can you expect from Ubuntu developers???. Hardy showed me that I had to use Proprietary Drivers (it is as usual, I have a card that sucks, it has no open source drivers for 3D acceleration). I installed it along with few small packages and did a reboot. Again I clocked with stop watch. It took sharp 35 seconds to boot.
I was again surprised. Ubuntu for the first time took my Graphics Card-Monitor combination correctly. Resolution was perfectly taken. And wow, Compiz Fusion was working on my system by default. People use to say its nearly impossible to get Compiz Fusion working on my card (ATI XRadeon XPress 200) get Compiz Fusion running without following some cumbersome methods but Ubuntu developers have silenced them. I started using other Softwares like Pidgin, gedit, Tomboy. All of them rocked. The default CD burning tool Brasero also was impressive. So with this I can conclude that Hardy Heron Rocks!!! Ubuntu and its Developers Rock!!!
Final Verdict : Hardy Heron Rocks!!!. I will give 9.2 on a scale of 10 for Hardy Heron.
-- Yours lovingly