Perhaps a little too edgy?

The latest Ubuntu release, 6.10 or “Edgy Eft“, came out last week. I’ve got a few Ubuntu PCs that I maintain; a couple of my own, some at work, and a few others for friends and relatives. Rather than overburden the Ubuntu servers with numerous updates I usually grab the “alternate installer disc” which can also be used to update an existing system. One download, one CD, multiple updated machines.

So far I’ve updated two systems – one at work and my main machine at home – and I have to say that I’ve been less than impressed. This has been the most problematic update I’ve dealt with, and from the posts on the Ubuntu forums it looks like I’m not the only one to have experienced problems.

One updated machine wouldn’t get to the login screen, and wouldn’t let me access a command prompt either[1]. The other machine refused to update at all[2]. When I finally massaged them into submission, I logged in to find that my games were missing[3], half my virtual desktops had gone AWOL[4] and my Apache/PHP installation had also disappeared[5].

In fairness I should point out that Edgy is very nice indeed – once it’s up and running – and I have no plans to jump to another distro just yet 😉 But my systems aren’t all that far from a standard install: I really think the upgrade should have gone more smoothly, especially on a system that bills itself as “Linux for Human Beings”.

I have one Tablet PC with no optical drive, so that won’t get updated until Edgy is pushed via the update servers. I can only hope that the delay in this is due to some of the issues being resolved before they flick the switch to make it live[6]. The friends and family PCs will be getting their updates from the servers, so it would be nice to think that a slight delay now will mean that I don’t have to go visiting people to rescue their systems.

“Edgy” indeed. I guess there’s quite some way to go before the “Stable Sable” release.

[1] The solution to this one was the addition of “vga=791” to the grub scripts, but how is a novice supposed to work that one out?

[2] It turned out that the update wanted to remove some old kernels that were there from previous versions of Ubuntu, but it wasn’t allowed to because they’re marked as essential components. The installer should have made it clearer what the problem was, or preferably just removed them anyway; so long as it doesn’t remove the kernel currently in use then it’s a pretty safe bet that the machine will still be able to boot afterwards.

[3] Simply re-installing the Gnome-games package got them back, but they shouldn’t really have disappeared in the first place

[4] This was a trivial issue of re-setting the number of desktops in the preferences of the pager applet. Still a little annoying though.

[5] I had to reinstall Apache and PHP. There was also a little configuration required to enable the PHP module which was less-than-obvious. This page contains all the relevant information, once you’ve worked out which sections apply.

[6] I’d also like to know when Firefox 2.0 is going to start hitting the Mozilla update servers. I’m waiting for the update on my Windows box at work (Edgy already has FF2.0), but that also seems to be taking a long time to get out. Much longer and I’ll just get bored enough to download the installer directly.