Having a Hardy day – Ten steps helping you not to have a hard time upgrading

So just before the first beta I finally updated my production machine to Hardy after feeling bad about not giving enough effort in testing for the last weeks. In one short sentence: It worked! In a longer sentence: It worked quite well, but…

If you plan to update your machine by calling “update-manager -d” on Gutsy or actually any other Ubuntu upgrade you might have a better time with the update by taking the following then steps before:

  1. Remove all applications you installed for testing purposes but don’t use them. It’s a nice feeling to have a mostly cleaned machine. Removing applications before an update reduces download time, the space needed and dependency calculations as well as the risk of a dependency failure. So just drop all those only once clicked applications, games and even libraries. Take some time for this, it will save you time later. Trust me.
  2. Check that you have enough space left on your device. Hundreds of packages are being downloaded in one step, therefore you should have enough disk space for this. Keep this in mind.
  3. Compiled software by your own? Installed external .deb-files? If possible: Uninstall them, you can later reinstall them if they are not provided by Ubuntu+1.
  4. Added software repositories to /etc/apt/sources.list (or Synaptec?). Disable them for now.
  5. Switched to a server close to you? For an update to an alpha or beta version it might be better to switch back to the main repository server as you are getting probably urgently needed updates faster (correct me if this is wrong).
  6. Of course: Back up, back up, back up. Decide, if a backup of your home directory fits your needs or you also want the rest of your partitions.
  7. Bring enough time: A full upgrade might take two hours and more, depending on your ram, cpu power, network speed and amount of installed applications. Don’t think an upgrade runs automatically – it will ask you several questions during package upgrades and therefore awaits your attention. Make the day your upgrade day or at least the afternoon your upgrade afternoon. A cup of tea might help.
  8. Check for already known caveats that you might take care of. Normally the most important ones are collected on the wiki page to the current alpha/beta release like this one.
  9. Make yourself clear what “alpha” an “beta” mean: Take them as warnings and only take the risk of an upgrade if you are not under time pressure for a project (like writing an essay, developing an application or anything with a deadline close to your upgrade day).
  10. Check if you have the possibility to have a second computer around enabling you for checking against discussion boards, wikis and other ressources of useful information. In case of an emergency it is crucial to be online in way because often really simple tricks can save your day.

After these steps, feel free to give “update-manager -d” a try. Take notes of things that look strange and check launchpad bug tracker if they are already reported. Now it is up to you to help making Ubuntu a better distribution and Hardy a really success.

Good luck!

p.s.: And if you want an example of things that *can* go wrong: After upgrade I noticed my wireless connection was down as the device was missing (no eth1 anymore). After searching the web I found out that the package “linux-ubuntu-modules-2.6.24-12-386″ was not installed though it should have been. An “aptitude install linux-ubuntu-modules-2.6.24-12-386″ over a wired connection solved the problem.

16 Gedanken zu “Having a Hardy day – Ten steps helping you not to have a hard time upgrading

  1. Thanks for the tips, except #3 is unclear. I use getdeb.net a lot, and sometimes sudo checkinstall. I definitely don’t know now where I got things from.

  2. @Vladim:

    Quite a good questions. I am sure, dpkg is able to differ between those packages but I don’t know yet, how. I will give it a look.

  3. @Daniel:

    You seem to be right, though the -generic seems not to boot right now. I’ll investigate this. Thanks.

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  5. Vadim, all Checkinstalled programs go under the category “checkinstall” in Synaptic. Unfortunately I don’t have a ready solution for finding Getdeb packages.

  6. #4 is already done by update-manager during the upgrade, there’s no need to do it yourself.

    #5 is a bad idea. If every switches to the main server for the upgrade to Hardy then it will get crushed. People should use their own local mirrors, that’s what they’re there for.

  7. Another hint if you are upgrading multiple PC’s on your lan is to setup one of the PC’s, one that has plenty of HDD space, with Apt-cache and configure the other PC’s to get updates via this PC. This will then mean you only need to grab packages from the online repo’s once and the rest of your client PC’s then retrieve it from the local cache, benefiting from an enormous speed boost! I’ve already got a PC on my lan running hardy, which I’m updating once a week, so hopefully come upgrade day I won’t have to much more to download and have a near complete set of packages for the rest of the PC’s!

  8. @Alan:

    For #5:

    Please note that this is meant for alpha/beta as clearly stated there. I really think sticking to main can save you a lot of time as this is about getting hotfixes probably urgently needed.

  9. @Mark:

    Thanks for your comment, I can support this. For a couple of networks I set up apt-proxies speeding up update processes dramatically.

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  11. @bullgard4:
    No, #6 is the most important! ;)

    I myself had the phenomenon of a 386 kernel instead of the general version after the dist-upgrade from Feisty to Gutsy. Till today, I can’t run any other display driver than “vesa” when booting the general kernel. It just says that it doesn’t find the device.(??) With the 386 kernel, everything including hardware acceleration and 3D effects works fine. I will install Hardy anew on this machine to get the general kernel working again. :/

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