Desktop and Server on New Ubuntu 8.04

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Ubuntu 8.04 LTS (long-term support) launched on April 24th for desktops and servers. There is something for everyone in this version, but the LTS release will have particular appeal to enterprises. As one corporate user said to me, "I have been waiting for the release of Ubuntu 8.04, because I am using Ubuntu 6.06 on my company laptop and we have to install exclusively long term support releases." The LTS release assures a reliable upgrade paths twice a year with security updates maintained for a full five years.

This newest version was developed under the codename "Hardy Heron". The previous version, 7.10 (once known by the code name of "Gutsy Gibbon") was a rock-solid release that launched in October 2007. Numerous incremental improvements have appeared since – with all the updates freely available and automatically installable. Ubuntu has continued to develop momentum as a reliable, fun to use operating system.

For new users or existing users considering an upgrade, it's easy to try Ubuntu 8.04. Simply download the software from ubuntu.com and burn it onto a CD. From there, you have three options to try it out. If you have an old, unused PC, dust it off and install Ubuntu. This is a great way to bring new life to old computers.

Another approach is to use the Ubuntu "Live" CD without installing onto your computer – simply boot off the CD. Select the startup option that says "Try Ubuntu without any change to your computer". You should be running Ubuntu in no time without reconfiguring your system.

A third trial option is to run Ubuntu on an existing Windows PC using a feature called Wubi. This installs Ubuntu as a Windows application without taking over or reconfiguring the PC. It takes a while to install, but I was surprised by how good the performance was once it got running. Wubi can be easily uninstalled.

For existing Ubuntu users, the 8.04 release looks better than ever and is a logical step forward as an upgrade path. To insure you have no installation incompatibilities with this release (I encountered several), I suggest downloading the full CD from ubuntu.com first. Try the "Live CD" approach prior to upgrading your production configuration. Another practical tip is to maintain your data files on a separate physical or logical drive from your installed operating system, thus reducing your risks and giving you more options during any upgrade installation.

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