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

Joao Pinto joao.pinto at getdeb.net
Tue Nov 3 17:01:43 UTC 2009

On Tue, Nov 3, 2009 at 2:37 PM, Davyd McColl <davydm at gmail.com> wrote:
> 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.
> OR
> 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
> this).
> 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
> soon...
> --
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did you use update-manager or do-release-upgrade for the upgrade ?
That is the recommended procedure for upgrading releases, check
http://www.ubuntu.com/getubuntu/upgrading .

Best regards,

João Luís Marques Pinto
GetDeb Team Leader

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