The new variants of Ubuntu Linux version 8.04 will no longer require Windows users to partition a hard disk to install the operating system. That's just one change in many alterations to the server and desktop versions of Ubuntu, all designed to make the open source operating system easier to use.

The new Ubuntu 8.04 versions, available as a beta since 20 March and code-named Hardy Heron, are scheduled to include:

  • A first-time Windows installation option called Wubi, which allows users to install Ubuntu 8.04 on a machine like they would install any Windows application, rather than requiring a separate hard drive partition for a full install. This option will allow Windows users to try Ubuntu on a Windows-equipped computer without changing their installed Windows operating system. Ubuntu 8.04 can then be uninstalled like any other Windows application, and users can decide to install it on a separate partition if they want.
  • KVM virtualisation, which is now integrated with Ubuntu 8.04, allowing easier guest creation and management of virtual machines by administrators.
  • Inkscape 0.46, which brings native PDF support to Ubuntu
  • A world clock applet, which can display the time and weather in multiple locations at once.
  • The Brasero CD and DVD burning application, which will complement the CD/DVD burning functions of Nautilus and replace the previously used Serpentine audio CD burning utility.
  • A new easier-to-configure firewall application called ufw.
  • Additional memory protection to help defend against rootkits and other malicious code introduced by hackers.

Ubuntu will stop providing updates and support for its 18-month old Ubuntu 6.10 Linux operating system on 25 April, the day after the new 8.04 version is released. Support and updates will continue for the 7.04 and 7.10 releases, which were released more recently.