Just as many other Ubuntu users, I could hardly wait with un-bridled enthusiasm for last week’s April 24th release of the final version of Ubuntu 8.04 “Hardy Heron.” My anticipation was heightened as this was to be a LTS (Long Term Support) release, and I have several projects pending, especially server builds that I want to install fresh on Hardy.

Before I launch into my one week review/opinion of Hardy, a little perspective is in order. I’m a daily user of Ubuntu (Gutsy and Dapper) and had been working with Pre-releases of 8.04 since about January. During this Alpha/Beta period, I encountered quite a few annoyances, but easily dismissed them due to the pre-release nature of the product. Those expectations changed however on April 24th.

Having been an Ubuntu user since Dapper (6.06) I have come to appreciate so many things about this Distro, from it’s Debian package management and repos to its fantastic user community and support, there is a lot to like. But perhaps more important then these, has been it’s rock solid nature and commercial grade releases. And as much as it pains me, after one week I have to question if Hardy was ready to go golden.

A Few Areas of Concern

Firefox 3 BETA? You put Beta software in a Long Term Support Distro? I know that FF3 is looking good (at this writing Beta 5), but I have already had to go and install Firefox 2 for some web sites to function properly. While this is not Canonical/Ubuntu’s fault – dictating production on Firefox – they should have realized this and favored the side of caution. Heck, when I’m on my Dapper boxes, I still use 1.5 and its no big deal. Yes, I get it, you want to be a bit visionary and cutting edge when working with a release that will be out for 3 – 5 years, but a core piece of software, as critical as the web browser should never go out “final” with a beta offering.

Samba Problems. I bugged a couple of SMB (client and server) problems to Ubuntu back in the A6 code, the final product still has critical bugs. I can’t even launch the Gnome Samba GUI tool without a fatal error. Daily I receive 10 or more bug reports on the system-config-samba system from bug tracker – What the heck? Aagin, Samba is way to critical a part of peoples infrastructure to ship an LTS version with fundimental problems.

Significant FSTAB syntax changes. Just yesterday, I discovered that my NAS units were not mapping (SMB/CIFS again) due too changed usage of the dmask clause. Ok call it petty, as this is not a full on Bug, but Good Lord, FSTAB fields have been a part of *nix systems for what 40+ years? And file masking – 777 has been the universally understood convention for full read/write/access in *nix since Bell Labs developed it – why did we feel the need to change the usage of a script I have personally been using for a couple of years now?

Don’t Fret Hardy Heron will be Uber!

My general feeling on this release is that it is just not fully cooked. In a few months, maybe only weeks, Hardy will be patched and ready for broad adoption. But why do this with your Flagship LTS offering? Unfortunately, Canonical/Ubuntu felt the need to hold the April 24th date, and shipped a product just a bit not as polished as previous builds. For now I will be holding off upgrading my production Gutsy boxes, but will build new systems with Hardy.