Last week I went ahead and put Ubuntu Hardy Alpha on my girl's machine. I don't usually do alpha, but I was fealing a little saucy I guess.I didn't know what to expect, but it was pretty buggy. The purpose of this machine is mainly to play games online in Firefox and store their music and videos. One of the first things I tried to do was rip a CD. When I went to change the preferences to make sure it was doing oggs with 0.5 quality it crashed the system. Upon reboot gnome-panel would run, but not display any toolbars. I created a folder on my desktop so I could open it and be in the file system. I then browsed to /local/bin/ and ran the system monitor. After killing gnome-panel and then manually rerunning it, the panels showed back up. A reboot would take me back to no panels. Doing a purge and then reinstall of gnome-panel did not fix the panels. This was pretty annoying, but this is Alpha, so I can't complain. I checked and a bug was already filed for it.
A few days later an update fixed the gnome-panels, and about week after that an update allowed me to rip CDs without any crashing.
After these updates the computer has been running very stable. Much more stable than I would expect an alpha to run. I have most of their CDs ripped on to the PC and am working on their DVDs. The idea here is that I can store their media somewhere safe so that they don't destroy it, and then use their computer as their full entertainment center.
The only problem I am having right now is that the wireless card is fully detected, but it cannot find any APs. This problem persisted on the previous install of Ubuntu on this machine, though it worked when I initially installed the card. I think it's a hardware issue with the card, but I have not devoted any time to trying to solve it.
Overall this looks to be another nice release. The most immediate thing anyone should notice is that the default theme, including the background, has received a major, and much needed overhaul. There are also some new programs for handling bit torrent and for burning CDs. Pulse Audio is new as well, but I haven't had much of a chance to take a look at what this change means to the average user, if anything.
In other news, I just got my confirmation e-mail yesterday that Microsoft will be shipping me a free version of Windows Vista 32-bit. So I will now have Windows Vista 32-bit and Windows Vista 64-bit. The 64-bit sits on a 20 Gig partition that gets touched once every eclipse. The 32-bit version will sit in a VM. This will actually be more convenient than the physical install because if I have a need to peek into Windows for a bit to boot it up and then shut it down without actually leaving my Linux environment.
The only version of Windows I bought came with a PC I purchased ~1999. I got XP free when it came out, and now I'm getting Vista free twice. I guess it doesn't hurt them any that Linux is my full time OS.