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Article published on: 12 November 2006, 15:49
Some time ago I upgraded to Ubuntu Edgy. Due to many complaints about failed upgrades, I've decided to upgrade as safely as possible.
My definition of safe upgrade meant doing it "sandboxed" once, and if there no serious problems, I do it on my live/real system. Therefore, I copied all my current system to a secondary HDD, I created a new virtual machine in VMWare Server which uses the physical HDD to boot. Once the system booted I ran the normal upgrade procedure. Doing this I've learned that the same Linux installation can boot on completely different machines (different drives/hardware, same architecture).
Of course this didn't work as easy & quick as wanted.
I used the Damn Small Linux distribution (LiveDistro) to install GRUB within the virtual machine. I didn't use Ubuntu itself as a LiveDistro - too graphical for administration purposes, and rather slow in VM. :)
I used tar to create a big uncompressed file of the entire root. From /home I excluded some big files & folders manually.
Before booting the snapshot of my system in VMWare I had to edit /etc/fstab and /boot/grub/menu.lst to manually remap the mount points.
The system booted properly without any problems. I just had to run sudo dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg because VMWare has a different video card. Then xorg also worked. It's really interesting to see your entire system running sandboxed, in the same system. :)
As a measure of protection I edited /etc/hostname and /etc/hosts. In the first file I changed the host name of the virtual machine, to avoid conflicts with mine. In the second file I made the host name of the host system to point to localhost (127.0.0.1). I didn't need network access to the host from the guest. Also, this change still allowed me to access the host, by IP.
I mounted the alternate CD image of Ubuntu 6.10 and I started the upgrade. I had very bad luck since for no specific reasons xorg crashed in the host OS, taking VMWare down. That was my first xorg crash :). I rebooted the host, I rebooted the guest and resumed the upgrade. Xorg crashed again. And again. And again. After several restarts, after several crashes upgrade finished. WOW.:)
I edited the /boot/grub/menu.lst on the host system, and I edited /etc/fstab on the guest system for the purpose of booting the newly upgraded system natively. It worked properly - after reconfiguring xorg, of course.
Due to the crashes keyboard layouts were completely damaged (almost unusable keyboard in Xorg). Other than this and several small issues, not worth reminding, everything was "fine".
I was pretty much surprised Xorg crashed due to VMWare. I have used VMWare with Windows in my Ubuntu installation for quite long. I had no problems. I noticed my xorg crashes when I start xorg in the guest OS.
I have tested Beryl+XGL. Quite nice, but slow :). I couldn't install compiz (problems with their packages in that day), neither AIXGL (my Nvidia Geforce 4 is too old).
Being glad the upgrade went "smooth" overall, given Xorg crashes, I decided to upgrade my real system.
So I did. No crashes. Everything went rather well. No keyboard layout problems, maybe because I did switch my system back to english, english keyboard, before I started, so the upgrade tool won't be confused. I also did set LC_ALL environment variable manually (in VMware dpkg complained about missing LC_ALL for many packages).
First thing I didn't like about Edgy was the boot splash. It looks good, but it hides all information - quite annoying. The solution was to uninstall usplash, and remove "quiet" from the kernel arguments list in my GRUB menu.lst.
Another problem I had was Firefox 2: no extension wanted to install. The solution was to remove my profile folder, eh. Then the DOM Inspector disappeared :). I had to manually add the extension to some INI files.
Another thing I disliked is that GRUB menu.lst now uses UUIDs instead of the human-readable /dev/hd*. Why?...
I don't know why, but Xorg in Ubuntu Edgy is less stable. I got several crashes - I didn't notice what's causing them.
Quanta doesn't want to start in French. It's always English, and I have all the French language support packages. I've been told I should have quanta.mo somewhere in my root - I don't. Yet, I have kdewebdev.mo which contains the Quanta French language strings.
The new apt-index-watcher package used 100% of my CPU every 10 seconds, until I removed it. :)
Was the upgrade worth it? The answer is almost no. I don't like they don't include the latest gaim 2 beta. There's beta 5 now and they still have beta 3.1 (you can't convince me beta 3.1 is somehow better than beta 5).
Maybe I'll do a clean install next time. Debian...
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