Saturday, May 21, 2011

ubuntu upgrades - 'alternate' cd way

The box shown below is my preferred 'graphical' way of upgrading Ubuntu



The 'alternate' cd - who uses it and why:

Quoting directly from help.ubuntu.com:
If your computer is not able to run the standard Desktop installation CD, you can use an Alternate installation CD instead. The Alternate CD also allows more advanced installation options which are not available with the Standard LiveCD.
A little vague perhaps, however the idea is to encourage folks, where possible, to use the standard Desktop installation CD.

As stated earlier, the alternate cd is my preferred 'graphical' way of upgrading Ubuntu, and my reasons are:
  • Detection of existing installation is moot
  • It allows the existing Ubuntu installation some interaction / control over the upgrade process.
  • No partition selection nonsense to go through, and therefore less chance of losing data through eager clicking.

Regular and 'alternate' cd - some naming examples:
  • ubuntu-11.04-desktop-amd64.iso
  • ubuntu-11.04-alternate-amd64.iso
If you  plan to download both for experimentation, and have anything other than a fast connection, then do look at the .zsync file if your download has been interrupted.

( Description of .zsync and how it might save you bandwidth here. )

Note: .zsync workings are not like Debian jigdo, however using .zsync to resume a failed download might be useful.


Kickstarting the Upgrade manually if your prompts do not appear:

In a terminal window:

gksu "sh /media/cdrom/cdromupgrade"

If the above does not work then you might instead try:

gksu "sh /media/cdrom0/cdromupgrade"

( The path cdrom0 or cdrom - one of those should work )

That shell script cdromupgrade will do the following for Natty:
  • Go to dists/natty/main/dist-upgrader/binary-all/ on the cd
  • Find natty.tar.gz
  • Follow the instructions and python scripts in natty.tar.gz to perform upgrade

For reference, a copy of natty.tar.gz can be obtained directly from archive.ubuntu.com here , however use that only for reference as the cd version is signed, and is likely gpg verified as part of running of cdromupgrade.


The cd dialogue shows 'Start package manager' but not 'Run Upgrade'?

You inserted the wrong cd and the (wrong) dialogue is shown similar to this:


It is possible to make use of the Standard Desktop cd to help keep bandwidth down during an upgrade (see next section), however if you want to follow the cdromupgrade method, discussed so far in this article, then insert the correct cd.


Updating instead by manually starting update-manager :

The earlier method in this article, is not the only way of having some manual control over your Ubuntu upgrade.

update-manager -c

...is the traditional way for command line types, and will work today.

Having the standard installation cd or 'alternate' cd loaded and starting Synaptic, should add the cdrom as a package source.

This will save plenty of downloading, as update-manager knows now that it has several hundred .deb files that it can get locally, rather than download.


Updating instead by manually starting do-release-upgrade :


do-release-upgrade is an automated alternative to update-manager, and does not require any graphical desktop to be running.

The 'No new release found' message should not happen on your system, if it does then the cause can be found by grepping like this:


If yours says 'Prompt=lts' or 'Prompt=never' then adjust things by changing your preference via update-manager.

( Emacs / vi editing probably a better alternative for command line types )

Using do-release-upgrade is a great way to get some hints about issues that will prevent your Ubuntu upgrade from completing.


...nothing too bad in the above, but then here is my showstopping issue shown below....


blcr-dkms in my case is probably safe to remove, as it is only a 'recommends' of another package. So I should remove it and then run apt-get autoremove

Right now I am not going to update Ubuntu, as I will likely wait for the next LTS in April 2012., however is always good to keep up to date with install procedures.


Notes and Further reading:

Before you attempt any upgrade it really is worth ensuring that your system has picked up recent packages from the 'updates' repository.

Example using Ubuntu Lucid LTS as the system being upgraded.

Ubuntu LTS is known as 10.04, but there is more to it than that.

There is a repository named lucid-updates that is used for enhancements and what you might term 'after market' fixes.

Your Ubuntu LTS system will work just fine and is secure as it is, however enabling the lucid-updates repository, gives you access to fixes that are useful, but not deemed worth retro inserting into stable.

If the file /etc/lsb-release reports 10.04.2 then you have probably got lucid-updates enabled already, and are using the point release from February 2011.

Typing lsb-release in a terminal will output 10.04.1 or 10.04.2 and so on, depending on what point release you are running.

The last piece of the number 10.04.2 indicates the point release of your LTS.

System -> Administration -> System Monitor reports your version, but unfortunately does not give details of which point release.



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