After the first release, 4.1 code name 'Warty Warthog', was successfully delivered, Ubuntu developers started working on next release, code name 'Hoary Hedgehog', following 6-month release schedule, and it should be released in April, 2005. But, if, like me, you are not patient enough to wait for April, and you don't mind possible breakage or bugs, you can follow 'Hoary' development by upgrading your Ubuntu to unstable 'Hoary' release. NOTE: Since it is development snapshot, expect occasional bugs or breakage. If you want stable system, wait for final release.
How to upgrade to 'Hoary Hedgehog'
It is very easy to upgrade to 'Hoary': just edit your /etc/apt/sources.list configuration file to replace all instances of 'warty' with 'hoary'. Then use apt, aptitude or synaptic to upgrade as you would normally do. In Synaptic, first you have to click on 'Reload' button to reload package information, and then you can upgrade your system. Now, it should be noted once more that upgrading to latest 'Hoary' snapshot can brake your installation. Some users reported on Ubuntu forums just that. Since I'm on dial-up (33.6kb modem), I approached in different way: I've upgraded packages in small chunks: I started with Nautilus (and all it's dependencies), then check if everything is working properly, then moved to upgrade Epiphany and Evolution, and so on. In that way, if something got broken, I could get an idea what upgrade caused the problem and then move on to solve it. I've started upgrading to 'Hoary' as soon as repository got populated, and I didn't experience any major problem that couldn't be resolved, usually by waiting day or two and upgrading that package again.
First thing that will be noticed is X.org server. I've upgraded with no problems from Synaptic, restarted X and it worked without any problem. Only thing I had to do manually was to delete xfree86-common from /etc/init.d . Also, 'Hoary' comes with kernel 2.6.9 and here I run into problems. After installing 2.6.9-smp kernel, I couldn't boot it, it would segfault, although 2.6.8 works with no problems. Final release of 'Hoary' will include Gnome 2.10, but Gnome 2.9.2 is now available. Well, I see no big difference compared to 2.8, although I like some nice touches like new Disk Mounter panel applet.Also, latest versions of Gnome apps are included, Like Epiphany 1.5.2, Abiword 2.2, Evolution 2.1.1., etc.
Also, 'Hoary' includes some new apps developed by Ubuntu team, targeting simplified upgrading and application installation. They are Ubuntu Update Manager, Upgrade Notifier and Gnome Application Installer. Upgrade Notifier, when launched, will display icon in systray which shows available updates, and it can be used to launch Ubuntu Update Manager. Those 2 applications together make good alternative for using Synaptic, although, when number of updates are too big, it can be a little bit too hard to navigate through Update Manager. Another application is Gnome Application Installer, which tries to simplify task of installing/uninstalling Gnome applications. I think it is probably work in progress, since UI is quite confusing: clicking on label will select/unselect package, and my opinion is that only check box should be used for that. It relies on Synaptic, so clicking "Apply' will launch Synaptic package manager.
In my case, upgrading to 'Hoary' was painless (except downloading upgrades through 33.6kb modem). Gnome 2.9.2 is stable enough, and availability of latest Gnome software is welcoming. Final release will include many more enhancements, and full list can be seen here. If you are not scared of following development from up-close, and want to participate in testing and fixing bugs, give 'Hoary' a try. Although almost 5 months from final release, I find it good enough for every day use.
If you would like to see your thoughts or experiences with technology published, please consider writing an article for OSNews.