upgrade from 9.04 - 9.10: the most broken Ubuntu / Debian upgrade I have ever experienced

Davyd McColl davydm at gmail.com
Tue Nov 3 14:37:52 UTC 2009

Good day all

I'll try keep it short, because this mail doesn't contain anything
particularly constructive -- it's just pertinent here because of the sheer
number of people who have posted that perhaps Karmic wasn't ready for the
big time. Also, I don't know where else to put this up for general perusal
where the people who count (Ubuntu devs) will actually see it. I could LJ
it, but you'd have to be a sad puppy to be reading my LJ (
http://fluffynuts.livejournal.com). So here it goes:

In approximately 10 years of Debian/Ubuntu usage (I switched to Ubuntu in
the Warty days), I have *never* had the displeasure of such a broken upgrade
process as I've just had, moving from 9.04 to 9.10. I've experienced such
brokenness from Fedora (but hey, that *is* the testing-ground for RH, so you
take your chances to start with, imo). Here's a short list of some glaringly
obvious problems that even the most incompetant QA should have picked up
(which, by the way, are being experienced by not only myself with the heaps
of packages I have installed from the Ubuntu repos, but also by a colleague
at work who started with a fairly standard 9.04 install just the other
day.Please bear in mind that I have *very little* installed from anywhere
other than archive.ubuntu.com -- I think I have 2 ppa's for tor and rvm. So
my machine, whilst bloated with GNOME, KDE and XFCE components, is using
mostly off-the-shelf components):

1) libc6 upgrade requires the restart of gdm. Which in turn requires the
termination of the X11 server. Which, in turn, requires that the upgrade
process proceeds in a never-ending loop as the actual installation of libc6
doesn't complete properly. Not a problem for a vet with some experience -- a
big problem for the "average joe" that Ubuntu is normally so well-suited
for. Whilst I can switch to a VT and use apt, I don't have the confidence
that the average user out there could, although they would have been
presented with the same "upgrade now?" question by update-manager
2) When I finally got the process started, there were several (read 10+)
rounds of the following:
  apt-get dist-upgrade
   [apt breaks because of package dependencies or other issues, such as the
config script for a package failing]
  apt-get install -f
   [lather, rinse, repeat]
again, not that great for Joe user. Not that great for me either. But at
least I can attempt to fix it and remove conflicting and horribly broken
packages. I have several bug reports on Launchpad. I got tired of posting
them all when I got to about the 10th one. Generally, the issues were often
of the format:
upgrade of package [Y] requires installation of new package [Y-funkyname],
but old [Y] wasn't removed first, so the installation of [Y-funkyname] fails
because of a package file conflict. Indi comes to mind here.
bad installation scripts which cannot be run more than once (say, when the
package fails to install the first time). Wicd shines here, trying to add my
user to the net-dev group repeatedly and "failing" because I'm already in
that group from the first time it partially installed.
3) The kicker: after spending a couple of hours on this, I managed to get my
machine to a state where apt claimed that I had no more updates available.
So I figured it was time for the inevitable reboot. Except... GRUB is
broken. Can't boot. Showstopper. I've tried fixing with a 64-bit Debian DVD
(sorry, I didn't have the 9.10 install CD down yet -- it was coming down for
me to share with friends when all hell broke loose during my upgrade).
When trying to fix from with a chrooted shell on the problematic system,
grub-install consistently fails with an error that it has an error reading
the stage1 file (which exists and I've seen it unpacked from a re-install of
the package .deb using dpkg in a chrooted shell, so please, don't tell me
that I personally have a problem with the file -- I would be surprised if
this isn't happening a lot more (and may well be because of changes from the
old GRUB to GRUB2 -- but again, a simple QA process *should* have caught

To add insult to injury, for the very first time in my life, I'm using my
dual-booted Windows install to provide a platform to attempt to fix my Linux
install -- downloading the 9.10 iso in the hopes that *something* on there
is way different from what is in the .debs that I've downloaded during my
system upgrade. I'm loathe to re-install: it's just Not The Linux Way (tm).
But it's starting to look like I might have to.

This has to be the most disappointing upgrade I've ever experienced from
Ubuntu. Truly, the people who were begging for a release delay of a week or
so should have been given a little credence. And perhaps I have to learn not
to trust that the Ubuntu upgrade process will work?

Flame me if you will -- this release has not been good for the Ubuntu image.
Still, I live in the hope that Things Will Get Fixed. And, where I can, I
would dearly like to help -- if only I can boot my machine again sometime

There is no shame in not knowing; the shame is in not finding out.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-devel-discuss/attachments/20091103/49b15c37/attachment.html>

More information about the Ubuntu-devel-discuss mailing list