Here’s what I noticed that’s new in Hardy Heron Alpha 5:
- The GNOME panel slides in to the screen when you log in. This kind of transition is a great touch.
- The boot menu on the Ubuntu CD has been changed. After selecting a language from a huge menu, you have the choice to Try Ubuntu without any change to your computer or Install Ubuntu. The first option starts the live CD as you would expect. Selecting Install Ubuntu also starts Ubuntu, but just runs the installer over the default background without starting GNOME. This could be an option for slower computers. However, exiting the installer will start up GNOME normally.
- Previous versions of Ubuntu included a browser for installing open source applications for Windows. This has been replaced by umenu and Wubi. umenu has options for rebooting into the live CD, starting Wubi, and learning more.
Not familiar with Wubi? It’s a Window-based installer for Ubuntu that uses Window’s boot loader to start Ubuntu from a file instead of a partition. Wubi makes installing Ubuntu very easy and safe. It’s now officially supported and included on the CD.
- Firefox 3 Beta 3 has replaced Firefox 2 as the default browser. It looks exactly like a native GTK application, including the tabs and icons.
- The new wallpaper that was installed by an update in Alpha 4 is included in Alpha 5.
There has been a lot of new features added to Alpha 5. The feature-freeze is in effect now, so from now on there will be more focus on bug fixes. Alpha 6 is expected around March 6th.