the servers late last week so I thought I'd upgrade. Plenty of people
appear to have had a great upgrade experience. Mine was a nightmare.
But few Linux disasters are unrecoverable. Here's how I got through
mine ... albeit with a few outstanding issues.
I kicked off the Distribution Upgrade process from kpackagekit
on Friday evening and left the machine to it. When I checked it on
Saturday morning, everything was finished, there were no warnings on
the screen, so I rebooted. In retrospect I should perhaps have checked
the notifier for any outstanding problems. But surely, anything major
would warrant a big bold warning box ...
monitor. In place of the usual boot menu I got a monitor message: "Out
of range: 74.6KHz/60.0Hz". Well, no real problem. That's just a Grub2
time-out the boot started and text messages started scrolling up the
GUI session starts with the message, "Ubuntu is running in low-graphics
mode ... OK". Again, no real problem as once I get into the system I
can fix that (it's probably the NVidia driver). But that led to the ...
neither the keyboard nor mouse would respond. That makes fixing things
somewhat more difficult.
At first I thought it might be a USB problem so I tried a PS/2 keyboard
and mouse. Nope. A few booting experiments showed that it was
definitely Linux as the DEL key still took me into BIOS. It wasn't
until that "Out of range" message that contact was lost -- a fact
proved by the non-responsiveness of Ctrl+Alt+F2, F3, etc. as the
There was nothing for it but to whip out my trusty copy of SysRescueCD
, a brilliant
boot disc that's saved mine and many other peoples' bacon over the
years. Using it I was able to chroot
with the command chroot /dev/sda1
For the uninitiated, chroot changes to the root directory of your
target and allows you to execute commands there as the root user --
which in Linuxland equals god. So although I'd booted and was running
from a CD, chroot took me into my Kubuntu / partition and allowed me to
work there as though I'd managed to boot into it.
Once there I quickly discovered the upgrade hadn't worked fully. apt-get update
(no need for sudo
this really is god mode!), told me there were errors and that I should
. That fixed a lot
of errors. A re-run of apt-get update
followed by an apt-get
uploaded 20 more missing packages, but there were some
it couldn't handle:
Errors were encountered while
What's more there were another 432 it still couldn't upgrade!
Hmmm, well perhaps in Kubuntu proper ...
(While I was chrooting around I also commented out the GRUB_GFXMODE=1920x1080
line in /etc/default/grub
and tried running update-grub
That wouldn't work for some reason, but I was impatient to try
rebooting so put up with the "Out of range" screen once again.)
A reboot got me a little further; right into KDE in fact -- in 640x480
mode -- but still
with no keyboard or mouse. I tried a few times, hitting the PC's reboot
button each time then finally decided to just shut the damn thing off
and have a think. That time I hit the Power button. KDE responded with
its "Turning off in 30 seconds" message, and then a miracle happened.
Instead of turning off, it dropped back into text mode where the
keyboard worked once again!
I hastily did an sudo apt-get update
then a sudo
which fixed all of the above errors, then
followed it with a sudo apt-get
. The download process started and took ... five ...
more ... hours!! I'm guessing that was because of the demand on
Kubuntu's servers. Normally, a complete distribution CD takes 10-15
minutes on my cable connection.
Finally, five hours later, a visible reboot and something like a
functional and fully accessible system. The menu had vanished,
necessitating the addition of a new Panel and all the widgets it
typically contains -- Menu, Pager, System Tray, Task Manager, Device
Notifier, Digital Clock, Trashcan and, because of my lycanthropy
-- but otherwise all is well. Well almost.
I now have to boot the system twice to get in. The first boot stops at
a line of text reading something like "214683 pages non-shared". And
that's it. Lock-up. But the next boot works fine.
The other problem is totally weird. OpenOffice 3.2 starts in seconds,
but opening a document takes twenty. I'm not kidding. Twenty seconds!
I've timed it by the desktop clock. WTF?
I'll look at both problems in more detail in the coming days, (any
suggestions welcome!). For now, I'm just happy my nightmare's ended.