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A Feisty Tale – Ubuntu Upgrade and Install Issues

Nicole Hernandez on May 17th, 2007

I have been an adamant Ubuntu supporter since I was ‘converted’ to it – but I have been quite disappointed with Feisty (AKA: Version 7.04). Not Feisty itself, but the process.

I was running the previous version (Edgy) and tried to simply upgrade using the normal upgrade process. While I had no problem upgrading from Dapper to Edgy, I had an enormous problem upgrading from Edgy to Feisty. Part of it was a system issue, and the other part (I assume) was user error.

A week or so ago I tried to upgrade to Feisty from Edgy using the Update Manager (as suggested in the install instructions). However, the update manager kept providing me errors that several file locations could not be reached for download. The update manager would then quit, and I’d have to try again. I assumed this was just a busy server time, but after nearly a week of attempting it, I decided it must be more than that.

I tried editing my sources.list file to go to the generic ubuntu file repository instead of the country specific links, and it started working. Okay, so it’s finally upgrading. Now, there’s this huge notice that tells me not to stop the install or do anything to the computer until it’s done. A challenge to be sure, since it’s very difficult to keep my children away from that computer during the day and it was set to take many hours. Then disaster struck.

With 3 minutes left on the progress meter – it just stopped. For several hours I waited. Wondering if one of my kids had snuck in and touched something. Wondering if the fidgety power issues of my laptop going into suspend while I wasn’t sitting there doing anything had killed it. I still don’t know what caused it, but I do know what happened. Exactly what it said not to let happen – the install was interrupted. The computer frozen, I had no choice but to reboot, cross my fingers, and hope that whatever files were left to be downloaded in that last 3 minutes weren’t vital enough to stop it from loading.

On reboot everything was loading. I watched as the new Feisty logo appeared, the progress bar moving along at a snails pace (nothing new on my slow laptop), then my login box appeared, and it worked. I waited expectantly for the desktop to show up – feeling more and more hopeful that those last few files hadn’t hurt anything. The plain background showed, and then I waited. Waited for the box to appear – you know the one, the one with the little icons that shows what’s loading. The box that shows right before the desktop loads completely. It never came.

At this point, I’m sad to say, I had a bit of a fit. Colorful expletives rolled off my tongue at warp speed, and I even was annoyed enough to threaten my laptop that I was going to do the unthinkable – I told it I would install Windows on it. I even tried to, I’m ashamed to say. But my laptop rebelled against the torture, and continued to crash the new Windows install.

I finally relented in my fury. A couple of days had done some good for my temper and I trotted over to Ubuntu.com to download a fresh copy of Feisty. Now, the Ubuntu site has gotten a nifty fresh look to it, and the download page is quite different (at least from what I remember). I clicked on version I wanted to download, selected my computer type, picked a download location, and did a quick download. I then used my trusty ISO burning software to create an install disk. Then I popped my fresh install disk into the laptop and got ready to make install selections as normal. It loaded up a start page with a bunch of install options. I’m still not sure what the difference was supposed to be between ‘start and install’ and ‘install with disk’. Really user un-friendly options. In any event, I tried both of them. They both essentially did the same thing – that is, took forever.

The reason is that regardless of which ‘install’ option I picked, it started to load Ubuntu. Which, on my slow ram-poor laptop, takes at least 20 minutes to load. That’s when I realized something was wrong. Had I downloaded the Live CD on accident? Why was it loading up Ubuntu?? Then I realized there was an ‘Install’ icon on the desktop. I figured, okay, well, maybe if I click on that it will reboot it for install and kill this Live CD. No such luck. My laptop, already pressed to the brink of RAM exhaustion, started to try to load the installer ON THE DESKTOP of the Live CD. After 40 minutes of waiting, and the first graphic of the installer was only partly loaded still, I gave up and shut it off.

I then returned to the download page on Ubuntu to see if there was a non-Live CD install disk I could download.

Ubuntu download page.

That’s when I saw it – and then I had another mini explosion. Underneath the ‘Start Download’ button is a checkbox that says this:

Check here if you need the alternate desktop CD. This CD does not include the Live CD, instead it uses a text-based installer.

Talk about non-intuitive and user un-friendly. And by the way – when did the non-Live CD become the ‘alternate’? It used to be the other way around. Getting the Live CD was always an EXTRA option for people who needed to try out the operating system before installing it. I’d like to have a few words with the ‘brilliant mind’ that decided that it should be the default download.

At what point it was decided that a Linux install (historically lightweight to install) should become bloated by a default loading of the full operating system first – is beyond me. I have serious issues with that.

In any event, I went back and downloaded the ‘correct’ version — meaning the one without the Live CD. Then I started the install as normal.

So I’m writing this while it’s installing, and I look over at the laptop and see a bright red screen with a box. The box says:

Installation Step Failed
An installation step failed. You can try to run the failing item again from the menu, or skip it and choose something else. The failing step is: Select and install software.

*sigh* It gave me the option to try again, so I did. Thankfully, it worked like a charm the second time. Now, I have to admit – the install was significantly more simplified than it used to be. Once I got past the irritation I felt about the Live CD thing, I realized that the whole text-based install went a whole lot faster than before and I had less problems getting it all working with everything on the laptop.

When it was done, I loaded it up (much quicker by the way) and it was working very smoothly.

Overall, I’m happy with the result, but the process left much to be desired.

~Nicole

4 Responses to “A Feisty Tale – Ubuntu Upgrade and Install Issues”

  1. I had a similar problem upgrading from Dapper to Feisty. A friend of mine told me to just run the Feisty CD on, that upgrading Dapper–>Edgy–>Feisty was going to take a long time and wasn’t a good idea. I didn’t care, i just wanted it to upgrade without me having to actually sit there and keep an eye on it. If it took 48 hours I wouldn’tve cared.

    I let Dapper update me to Edgy, and it took a while, but it worked. Immediately after it booted I started the Edgy–>Feisty upgrade. This is where I had similar results to your experience. The install ran all the way thru, although I wasn’t paying attention. I remember looking over and seeing it at 85%. Anyway I looked up again and the screen was black, so i touched the mouse… nothing. Looking at the lights, no hard disk activity. After a few minutes of praying and poking, I rebooted.

    Almost immediately I knew I was screwed. I didnt get much past the bootloader when it started asking me where the kernel was. Never a good sign. I decided I’d have to install off the CD. I downloaded the workstation install cd, and booted it.

    Again, similar to you, I was suprised that it was booting a livecd. I didn’t remember this being the norm. Anyway, it (eventually) booted all the way. The machine is sloooooow. I tell it to install, and it cranks for a while, then somewhere half way thru the install stops and the screen goes black. Same symptom, no response, dead.

    At this point I went back and ‘discovered’ the alternate-install-cd. My experience after that was again similar to yours, the text-based installer worked like a charm. I had to reconfigure everything since the upgrade process pretty much hosed any chance of me recovering what I had on there. Fortunately i had backed up all my important files to the server before attempting the upgrade.

    Im glad to see Im not the only one who has had strange Feisty upgrade issues.

  2. I got to the “Installation step failed” on the Kubuntu alternate CD…
    …and never got past it.

    …this is rediculous. I’ve been using Linux since Slackware 1.3 and NEVER had this much trouble with a distro.

    My Dell Inspiron E1505 had similar fits with the Kubuntu live CD and DVD…

    Let’s get it together, guys!

    btw…any have a solution for this nightmare???

  3. Man, you’ve saved me big time! I was having some trouble upgrading a machine that doesn’t have net access (that’s why I’m upgrading, something croaked) and I couldn’t seem to add the CD to the repository list. After reading your article, I read the same section as you and I see that the alternate CD is for ‘upgrading from older installations without network access’. I’be been at this 3 hours already – I’m glad Google found your blog! Cheers! :-D

  4. Glad it was a help!

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