Problems Updating Lubuntu 12.04, 12.10, and 13.04 on Slow Machines

Aere Greenway Aere at
Sat Apr 13 17:28:38 UTC 2013


I have been observing a problem where on slow (450 megahertz) machines, 
the software updater window disappears, and the updates are applied in 
the background, with no notification of completion.

I tried applying updates using terminal commands:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

These would start out with me being able to see what was going on, but 
it would come back to the command prompt during the trigger processing 
(and new commands could be entered), while processing continued in the 
background.  Again, there was no notification of completion.

More updates were available recently, so I tried it again on my 450 
megahertz machine.

I used the terminal commands (as above), and the output was encouraging, 
because I could see the progress of what was going on.

But then it got to the mkinitramfs step, and control returned to the 
command-prompt (I could enter commands), without it proceeding farther.

Repeating the "sudo apt-get upgrade" step responded with something about 
the (new kernel) change being "held-back".

This made me lose all trust in the terminal method of updating, because 
when I apply updates, I want them all to be applied - not just some of 

So I ran the software updater, and it showed that the kernel update 
still needed to be applied.

The cursor on the software updater window showed as being busy, and 
stayed that way for a long time.  I clicked the "Apply Updates" button 
(or whatever it is called), but that never seemed to get going, and at 
one point the software updater crashed.

I was hopeful I could submit a crash report, but updating appeared to be 
going on in the background, and apport was consuming a lot of memory, to 
the point that constant swapping started to occur.  I finally 
(reluctantly) had to kill the apport task, and (eventually) the software 
updater task as well.

At this point, I feared I had lost this particular system.

On rebooting, if I ran the software updater, it showed that the kernel 
updates still needed to be applied, but the cursor on the software 
updater window remained busy, for a really long time.

A check of the Task Manager window showed Update Manager using time, as 
well as apt-check.

Remembering an earlier e-mail about an apt-check (correction - that 
e-mail said "dpkg") needing to complete (and taking as long as 90 
minutes to do so), I left it running, and went to do something else.

When I returned a half-hour later, the CPU-usage was back to an idle 
state, and the cursor (when on the software updater window) was no 
longer 'busy'.

So I clicked the "Apply Updates" button, and 30 seconds or so later, I 
was presented with a dialog box to enter my password, which I did.

But as before, after awhile, the software updater window disappeared.

But the Task Manager window showed processes running that I could 
identify as part of the updating process (such as mkinitramfs), so I 
just watched it.

Eventually (after a long time), the CPU-usage went back to an 
idle-state.  Again, there was no notification of completion.

When I ran the software updater at that point, it (after checking for 
updates) said that a reboot was required for updates to finish, which I 
proceeded to do, and now the system appears to be properly updated.

That's a long story, but with some precision in the description of what 

So anyway, here is my description of the problem, and what ought to happen:

On slow machines (450 megahertz, single-processor, 512 meg RAM), when 
you run the software updater, the software updater window disappears, 
yet updates seem to get applied in the background. There is no 
notification of the completion of this process.

1. The software updater window should not disappear.  It should be 
possible to monitor the progress of applying the updates.

2. There should be some notification of the completion of the update 
process, if for some reason it /has/ to run in the background.

3. There is a lengthy step performed by the software updater (apt-check) 
which runs for a long time (30 minutes, for example). While it is 
running, the software updater is not actually usable. If you click the 
"Apply Updates" button during this time, you only cause more problems.  
There is no progress-meter display.  The application appears to be 
hung.  CPU-usages is at 100%, so it appears the system is hung.  This 
should not happen - really.


On slow machines, the method of applying software updates is broken, and 
not something an ordinary user can deal with, or use with any real 
chance of success.

If you can't update your system, then you system is not supported - 
despite what the website may claim.

I have submitted a bug-report for this, but it has been declared 
"invalid" because my machine doesn't have a speed of 1 gigahertz, with 1 
gigabytes of RAM - despite the fact that I was using Lubuntu.

Here is a link to the bug-report: Title: When applying software 
updates, updater window disappears


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