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Upgrade from Ubuntu 10.04 to 10.10 to 11.04 results in a serious mess


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April 29, 2011

Canonical (Ubuntu) certainly screwed up with their 11.04 (April 2011) release: I could go on a rant here, because the problems are just way more than what I could consider a "glitch". This upgrade is diseased as far as I'm concerned:

Ubuntu 11.04 reboots to a GRUB prompt after installation. [Fixable]
I came across Aaaron Kelley's Blog on the subject: In essence, Ubuntu never bothered to upgrade grub (the boot loader) to where it could handle the updated grub.cfg file. DUH! Well, here's the solution:
  1. If you have a live/rescue CD, boot from it. If you don't, you need to find another computer, and download & burn a rescue/livecd image. It doesn't matter what distribution, but I recommend not to use an Ubuntu 11.04 rescue/livecd
  2. Run grub-install /dev/sda and then update-grub but ensure first that /dev/sda is your regular boot disk. This should install and update grub to the latest version.
  3. Reboot your computer. You should be back to normal now.
Thanks Aaron!
Ubuntu 11.04 has no networking. [++Ungood]
I've a Realtek RTL8111/8168B PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet controller (rev 02) … I really don't think that's a strange and unusual device, is it? It certainly worked just fine with Ubuntu 10.04 and 10.10; For what it's worth, the 11.04 livecd had no networking, either. DUH! Well, here's the fugly solution:
  1. Open a shell
  2. Enter sudo ethtool -s eth0 port tp to tell the driver to stop screwing around and just use the twisted pair ('tp') port. You'll find that networking is instantly functional again. The sad thing is that you'll have to do that each time you boot.
KDE keeps locking up for 5 seconds. [++(++Ungood)]
Initially all is fine, but after a few hours, maybe after a day, the desktop locks up for 5 seconds each time I click anywhere on something desktop related: Right-click on the desktop to get a context menu or on any part of the kpanel to launch an application, switch desktops, or open (or close) the ubuntu start window. DUH!
The solution is easy enough: Save all your work and logout and back in again.
Running gnuemacs in its own window locks up KDE dead. [DEADLOCK]
Really? Yep, reliably, reproducibly, each and every time. The mouse moves maybe one pixel every few seconds for a few more seconds and then it's completely frozen. DUH! Turns out that killing the X server process doesn't seem to do it, the desktop comes back up as a complete mess of scrambled fragments from previous window contents. It's just as dead as before. The only solution appears to be a reboot. The machine is still usable from another/remote console. The CPUs are not busy, it's just that the desktop is f'ed. Maybe this and the 5-second freezes mentioned above are related, and they are an nvidia driver problem or some interaction with the kernel, but hey, an nVidia G92 [9800GT] (rev a2) shouldn't be among the weirder cards out there, right?

So, the bottom line is that Ubuntu 11.04 has given me some very serious headaches, and quite a bit of downtime. A distribution that looks to make the Linux experience as polished as possible could probably afford these problems with strange and unusual hardware, but I really don't think I've got strange and unusual things in my machine.

At this point, the machine is running reasonably well, except for the fact that I have to run emacs in a console, have to kick eth0 in the nuts each time I boot, and have to log out and back in again about once or twice a day.

I'm willing to put up with this for now and this page isn't meant as a rant (only a little venting ;-)) … Maybe these descriptions help out someone else who is having similar trouble. If so, great, but this kind of problem is why I couldn't recommend Ubuntu to my mom. Sad, but true.

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