A place to rant.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Ubuntu Dapper Upgrade - Here be dragons

So, I was excited for Ubuntu's Dapper Drake, the newest release of their GNU/Linux distribution. Some programs of mine were getting stale, and I was eager to get newer but stable versions.

Despite that, I've had lots of problems with upgrades in the past (not necessarily with Ubuntu), so I was a little cautious. Like many disillusioned upgraders, I didn't upgrade the day the release came out. I waited a month to make sure that the silly little bugs left in were fixed. I looked online, and most people didn't seem to have many problems, so I went ahead with the upgrade.

Bad idea.

I had lots of issues with liblvm2. In summary, I had to remove it and the package that depended on it (ubuntu-standard). . . which is not good, since ubuntu uses metapackages like these to ensure that upgrades go smoothly. Thankfully, I think this one was not required for that.

After rebooting, it booted into an old kernel (which is fine, because I had overridden this before, when I had major problems booting the kernel shipped with breezy). But it turns out that when I tried the new kernel it installed, it couldn't even finish booting.

I was able to boot into my previous kernel, though, only to find out that Ubuntu could not find my networking devices. ath0 (the Atheros card) simply didn't exist. Great. I'll take this opportunity to point out that this is one of the worst reasonable modes of failure - because you can't even look up how to fix the problem, without network connectivity.

I have since found out that sound no longer works either. Fantastic.

It turns out that in both cases, the upgrade removed some file which, on bootup, loaded the kernel modules (drivers) for my network and sound cards. Once I figured this out (which took about half an hour), it was a trivial fix for the network card. I'm now fighting with alsa and my sound card.

I just wanted to warn people who thought that the upgrade would be seamless - not so.

I think Ubuntu's wonderful, and I really respect what they've done for GNU/Linux in making it usable. I think overall they've done a great job. But it's really unacceptable for an upgrade process to take out your networking and sound subsystems. I realize I may have a special case here, but I'm just an ordinary Joe who happens to know how to install drivers. If not, I might be switching back to Windows, which is frankly ridiculous.


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