The “Ubuntu Upgrade Process” Compared Unfavorably Against “A Pile of Trash”

Dear Ubuntu,

I am mad and ranting. This is flamebait because it’s been a major problem every single Ubuntu release since I got involved four versions ago. Four freaking versions! That’s two years.

A little over one year ago, I was using Ubuntu 6.06. It was a good release, and it served me well. Then I tried to upgrade to version 6.10, and it was the worst upgrade I have ever done in my entire life. The IRC channels were flooded with people who said their systems were broken, mine included. Based on what I was told, the fact I had once used an early version of Automatix to install the fglrx 3D acceleration drivers had somehow made significant changes to my machine that lurked deep within the system, waiting to resurface and bite my head off when I upgrade. In retrospect, this was BS. There were a lot of things gone wrong with the upgrade that Automatix had absolutely nothing to do with.
I ended up reverting to 6.06 until 7.04 came out, when I backed everything up and did a clean install. This is what was have been using up until about noon today.

At noon, I made the decision that I had waited long enough, and the time had come to check out 7.10. After all, two months after release, the upgrade should be a smooth process, right? This was a horrible, horrible mistake. First, I needed to download 1.1 gigs of packages. This took three hours. Then, they were installed. This ran until 9pm.
Yes, I repeat, this was a nine hour upgrade. During this period, I was instructed not to use any programs because of “data loss.”

Oh, but it’s not an unattended upgrade either. Periodically, a dialog box would appear asking if I wanted to replace X configuration file I didn’t know existed with Y configuration file provided by the new package. While this box was on the screen, the entire upgrade would grind to a halt. There were like six of these things, spaced about 45 minutes apart. What the heck? In case you haven’t figured it out yet, this is bad design. This is disrespectful to the user. This is stupid.

Right, so the install finally completes. I reboot, to be greeted with a blank black screen. This blank screen stayed for a very long time (blinking occasionally) until the login box appeared. I decided to chalk up the long boot time to first boot and the blank screen to… a bug or whatever.

I logged into Gnome. There was an absurdly long login period, which I also attributed to first run. My processor indicator instantly shoots up to 100%. The system becomes sluggish and unresponsive. Apparently that nifty new “Tracker Desktop Search” tool is preset to begin indexing aggressively the first time an existing user logs in. I kill the process.

My mouse and windows are still sluggish. Running glxinfo reveals that my previously working fglrx drivers no longer are providing 3D acceleration. A popup message randomly appears in the center of the desktop telling me that non-free drivers are available for my hardware. It appears that it has clipped off the edge of the taskbar and taken it with it. I click it and it vanishes. Nothing happens. I eventually locate the icon in the tray that the bubble was supposed to be attached to. I double click it and it vanishes. Nothing happens. I go to the restricted drivers control panel and discover that the alert was for my unused dial-up modem; fglrx is indeed enabled. Great.

I try unchecking and rechecking it my double clicking. The desktop disappears and I am presented with the login screen. I log in again. Very long wait again. I decide to get online to find out how to fix the graphics drivers. The upgrade has uninstalled my wifi program of choice, Wicd, so I try to use the network control panel manually. Nothing happens. I try to change the essid of the network to a nonexistant network. Whoops, didn’t like that. Now I can’t get the control panel to come up at all.

Before Wicd, I used NetworkManager. It used to be buggy and not able to connect to hidden WEP networks. I’ve updated the network since than to a hidden WAP network. It connects! Yay! I’m connected to the internet! Suddenly, almost all the plugins on my taskbar all crash at the same time. Then my mouse freezes. Then the screen goes black. I wait for three minutes. Nothing happens. I’ve had better experiences with Windows ME.

At this point, I’ve wasted like thirty minutes messing with the stupid thing, in addition to the nine hour upgrade where I was hovering nearby checking every 15 minutes for “Replace configuration file?” dialogs.

This is completely unacceptable. You know what, I’m not even gonna bother anymore. I’ll just back up my recent data, wipe the entire thing, and start from scratch. It’ll take two hours, tops. Am I overreacting? No. You just wasted my day.

The Ubuntu upgrade process is junk. I’ve never had a Debian or Windows upgrade that ended as horribly as either of the times I’ve used the Ubuntu major version updater. Windows is trash. QED: The Ubuntu upgrade process performs worse than a pile of trash.

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4 Responses to “The “Ubuntu Upgrade Process” Compared Unfavorably Against “A Pile of Trash””


  1. 1 Elijah Lofgren January 13, 2008 at 10:05 pm

    Yikes, I’m so glad I didn’t upgrade to Gutsy from Feisty like I almost did yesterday. I think I wait for the next version of Ubuntu. Thanks for the heads up.

  2. 2 James January 13, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    Actually, if you back everything up and install from scratch, it’s (almost) all gravy. A clean install is definately worth it, if only for the search and such.

    Unfortunately, my laptop has some sort of weird IRQ conflict or something that causes my USB ports to randomly die under linux (until reboot) when I use my USB mouse. Using the kernel arguments “noapic irqpoll pci=routeirq” used to fix this, but now they just make my USB mouse freeze every time the disk is accessed. *sigh*

    Oh, hibernation is also broken. I’m gonna investigate suspend2 when I get a chance.

    So yeah, sticking what with works probably isn’t a bad idea.

  3. 3 Michael September 1, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    The problem I see with this is……the only reason I even considered going to ubuntu was for LTS. I want to be able to upgrade withOUT reinstalling everything from scratch. If I am going to go through that trouble, I will stick with Fedora. I have run every version of RH/FC since 5.0. I am very familiar with it, and without a seamless major version upgrade, I see no advantages to switching to a dumbed-down linux distro like Ubuntu.

  4. 4 Pete September 11, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    I can top your pile of trash!!!

    I install a clean:

    Ubuntu 9.04 Desktop (the latest version): Includes the latest enhancements and is maintained until 2010

    it works great!!!
    I think I might like it UNTIL
    it decides to perform the required updates…

    It trashed a good installation.

    The X display is garbled and it is quite impossible to login without rebooting and going to “root prompt” (non-graphics).
    This was after trying to get to a prompt mode login (Ctrl+Alt++) -key on the NumPad….alas….no joy…That *___used_to_work___*

    So I try to log to the original (backup) version but it too is trashed…besides…none of the tips and pointers for fixing X worked and I’ve been down this road too many times in a past life so I decide to reinstall….
    This used to be a nice alternative however….
    The current Ubuntu designers/crafters/gurus have forgotten to include the old option to write over the previous installation so I have to create yet another Ubuntu partition…..ARRRGGGHHHH!….. and I opt to make it a teenie-weenie 2.5 gig partition…
    Boot to it and JOY!!!

    Like I said, been down this road too many times in the past and since I am getting old and grouchie and do not have time to re-learn the entire X environment….

    I guess its time to return to Red Hat….

    You Ubuntu guys need to get your act together!!!!!!

    Now! Where’s my Fedora?


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