After four Alpha releases, Ubuntu has now released version 8.04 of the popular Operating System, code-named “Hardy Heron”, in beta. Apart from the boat load of new features, libvirt and virt-manager have been integrated in Ubuntu. They allow for easy guest creation and basic management of virtual machines out of the box. Virt-manager can be used to administer guests on a remote server.
The kernel also includes virtio, greatly improving I/O performance in guests.
The beta version of Ubuntu 8.04 also comes with the following new features:
The latest Xorg, Xorg 7.3, is available in Hardy, with an emphasis on better autoconfiguration with a minimal configuration file. This Beta brings a new Screen Resolution utility that allows users to dynamically configure the resolution, refresh rate, and rotation of a second monitor. This will be particularly handy for laptop users that connect to a projector or external monitor.
Linux kernel 2.6.24
This Beta includes the 2.6.24-12.13 kernel based on 126.96.36.199. This brings in significant enhancements and fixes that have been merged in the last few months into the mainline kernel.
Hardy Heron Beta brings you the latest and greatest GNOME 2.22 with lots of new features and improvements, such as a new Nautilus that uses GVFS as its backend. GVFS makes it possible to fix shortcomings of Nautilus such as the inability to restore files from trash, pause and undo file operations, and will make it possible to escalate user privileges for certain operations using PolicyKit for authentication. It also brings a significant performance boost to many operations.
PolicyKit is now integrated in the administrative user interfaces. PolicyKit allows fine-grained control over user permissions and enhances usability and security, by allowing administrative applications to be run as a normal user and gaining extra privileges dynamically only for privileged operations instead of requiring the whole application to run as root.
PulseAudio is now enabled by default. Some non-GNOME applications still need to be changed to output to pulse/esd by default and the volume control tools are not yet integrated.
Firefox 3 Beta 4
Firefox 3 Beta 4 replaces Firefox 2 as the default browser, bringing much better system integration including GTK2 form buttons and common dialogs. and icon theming that matches the system.
The GTK version of the popular Transmission BitTorrent client comes preinstalled in Ubuntu, replacing the Gnome BitTorrent downloader.
The new Vinagre VNC client is installed by default in Beta, replacing xvnc4viewer. Vinagre allows the user to view multiple machines simultaneously, can discover VNC servers on the network via Avahi, and can keep track of recently used and favorite connections.
The Brasero CD/DVD burning application, which will complement the CD/DVD burning functions of Nautilus and replace the Serpentine audio CD burning utility, is installed by default in Beta.
World Clock Applet
Integrating the features of the intlclock applet, the GNOME panel clock in Beta can display the time and weather in multiple locations.
Inkscape 0.46 introduces native PDF support, providing an easy, open source solution to editing text and graphics in PDF documents. Users will appreciate being able to draw up flyers, posters, and other docmuents, save them as PDF in inkscape, and send them to a print shop for printing without ever leaving Ubuntu or loading a proprietary tool.
Likewise Open, available from the universe repository, enables seamless integration of Ubuntu within an Active Directory network. Users can use their AD credentials to log onto Ubuntu machines and access any kerberized services provided by an Ubuntu Server.
iSCSI Initiator has been fully integrated in the kernel, allowing Ubuntu to mount iSCSI targets as a block device. iSCSI is available in the Ubuntu Server installer if iscsi=true is passed on the kernel command line at the beginning of the install process.
Ubuntu 8.04 Beta includes ufw (Uncomplicated Firewall), a new host-based firewall application configurable from the command line which is designed to make administering a firewall easier for end users while not getting in the way of network administrators.
Additional access checks have been added so that /dev/mem and /dev/kmem can only be used to access device memory. These changes will help defend against rootkits and other malicious code.
The lower 64K of system memory is no longer addressable by default. This will help defend against malicious code that attempts to leverage kernel bugs into security vulnerabilities.
Applications compiled as Position Independent Executables (PIE) are now placed into memory in unpredictable locations, making it harder for security vulnerabilities to be exploited.
There is a new installation option for Windows users. Wubi allows users to install and uninstall Ubuntu like any other Windows application. It does not require a dedicated partition, nor does it affect the existing bootloader, yet users can experience a dual-boot setup almost identical to a full installation. Wubi works with a physical CD or in stand-alone mode, by downloading an appropriate ISO to install from. It can be found on the root of the CD as Wubi.exe. A full installation within a dedicated partition is still recommended, but Wubi is a great way to try Ubuntu for a few days and weeks before committing dedicated disk resources.
WinFOSS and the Windows open source software have been replaced by umenu, a simple launcher that lets the user install Ubuntu from Windows using Wubi, install Ubuntu to a partition without having to make their CD-ROM the first boot device.
To download the Ubuntu 8.04 Beta check out this page. The full and final OS is expected to be released next month.
[Source: TechConnect Magazine]