Upgrading to Ubuntu/ Kubuntu 10.10 – First Impressions


As Maverick Meerkat had been out for a few weeks, last weekend I decided to take the plunge and upgrade my main computers from Ubuntu 10.04LTS to 10.10.

Naturally, before I started each upgrade, I imaged up the PC using Clonezilla and my FreeNAS server. I was particularly impressed with the performance of using Clonezilla over a LAN, getting an average throughput of 77Mbps compared to half that using a locally attached USB hard disk.

As I was upgrading a LTS release of Ubuntu, the first thing I had to do was to go into Synaptic and change the upgrade settings. To do this go to the Synaptic menu bar and select Settings > Repositories. The Software Update window will be displayed, click on the Updates tab. At the bottom of the window under Release Upgrade, change the setting show new distribution release from Long Term Support Releases Only to Normal releases.

Ubuntu 10.10 32-bit (Athlon 64×2 5600 CPU with 4Gb RAM, NVidia 6600GT and SCSI hard disks, dual boot with Win XP)

The online upgrade went through without a hitch. The only thing which spoilt it were a few messages asking whether I wanted to replace configuration files e.g. SAMBA and DKMS. A appreciate such questions need to be asked but wonder why I would wish to select anything other than the default setting! May be this should be hidden to protect novice users and if it is really important to reconfigure then it should be done automatically. If the ‘geeks’ wish to optimise the settings later, then I’m sure they will know where to find the config files!

The only disappointment was that on a reboot I got the following error message:

modeprobe: FATAL: Could not load /lib/modules/2.6.35-22-generic/modules.dep No such file or directory

My initial thoughts were that the upgrade had failed, but after what seemed like a minute, in reality about 10 seconds, Ubuntu 10.10 continued to boot and loaded normally.

After some searching on the internet I discovered that this is a bug in 10.10 (bug #642421 on Launchpad.net) which is affecting many users. Whilst it doesn’t stop anything from working, it does spoil the "super fast" boot experience Canonical have been promoting for the past year or so. Interestingly enough, whilst this is not a Window manager issue i.e. KDE or GNOME, my other two computers which run Ubuntu 10.10 do not experience this problem so I think it might be due to the fact that this particular PC is dual-boot with Windows XP!

Kubuntu 10.10 32-bit (Dell Latitude C640 2.4GHz P4M CPU, 1Gb RAM and ATI Radeon Mobility 7500)

As with the Ubuntu upgrade, this online upgrade went through without a problem, which is something of a relief compared to the upgrade from 8.10 to 9.04 (see earlier post).

I really do like KDE 4.5, so much more mature than earlier versions and really worth the upgrade in its own right. KDE 4 is at last really shining as a window manager and gives Windows 7 a good run for its money especially as Microsoft "borrowed" a number of its interface features.

One surprise, when I forgot to plug in my PSU and the battery went flat, is that suspend to RAM actually works as well as the most common Fn keys (Eject CD, Mute, Volume and Brightness keys).

Because I used third party repositories, I lost KDEnlive and Blogilo but this was easily corrected and no configuration data was lost, so pretty painless.

The only disappointment is my LG KM900 3G mobile phone which stopped tethering in 10.04 (due to a kernel upgrade) as a 3G modem, still doesn’t tether. Kubuntu detects the modem in the phone but fails to connect properly to T-Mobile. I get an IP address but nothing else!

Kubuntu 10.10 64-bit (AMD Athlon 64×2 4200, 2Gb RAM, NVidia 6600GT and SCSI hard disks)

Unfortunately, this upgrade was not as smooth as the 32-bit upgrades and may be the reason why Canonical recommend the 32-bit version of Ubuntu over the 32-bit version.

Just over half way through the online upgrade, it threw up an error message:

Could not install grub-pc sub-process installed post-installation script exit status 30

This caused update-manager to get stuck at 64% and in the end I had to kill update-manager. Not something I would do likely but I had no other option as the upgrade was going nowhere fast!

With Linux the fall-back plan should the GUI upgrade fail during an upgrade, is always to return to terminal and do things from there, so this is what I did. Except that trying to do an apt-get upgrade told me that the database was locked as another process was in theory still running. This was because I had to kill off Network-Manager and the lock file to prevent multiple upgrade processes running in parallel had not been deleted.

To resolve I entered the following:

sudo rm /var/lib/dpkg/lock

then did a

sudo dpkg –configure -a

To resolve broken dependencies and to continue the upgrade. Grub2 then configured itself successfully and the upgrade eventually ended with no further incidents. Just to make sure I then did another sudo apt-get update followed by a sudo apt-get upgrade. As no further upgrades were outstanding I then performed an sudo apt-get autoremove to clean-up redundant packages and then rebooted.

Summary

As I would expect from Linux, all three PCs have proved to be rock solid in terms of reliability. Application reliability has also improved in Blogilo, it no longer crashes after ten images are inserted into a blog post!

The three upgrades where relatively stress free and overall 10.10 is an improvement on 10.04, especially Kubuntu. I would score both Kubuntu and Ubuntu 9/10, both implementations feel faster and I’ve noticed that my CPU temperatures have dropped a few degrees when inactive which may suggest efficiencies in the kernel or an improvement in the accuracy of LMSensors!

I’ve now been using linux for over five years and if it keeps up the current speed of progress, in my view it will be a viable consumer orientated desktop operating system by 2012.

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