The beta of the next version of Ubuntu Linux has arrived, though judging by its stability and polish you'd be hard pressed to tell it's a testing release. Ubuntu 8.04, code-named "Hardy Heron," is scheduled to be an LTS (Long Term Support) edition, and you can tell its developers have worked diligently to make it worthy of the title.
Ubuntu, the leading desktop Linux OS, has settled into a stable look and feel over the last few releases, and this time the cosmetic changes are minor. The familiar brown and orange color scheme remains, as does the overall fit and finish of the windows and controls.
Under the hood, however, Ubuntu 8.04 has improved considerably. Between a new kernel, a new version of the Gnome desktop, improved windowing and graphics layers, and a number of default configuration tweaks, nearly everything about Hardy Heron feels snappier and more responsive than the previous version. Windows and menus feel less sluggish, disk access is improved, and programs launch more quickly. It even boots faster.