Sunday, March 09, 2008

rhea upgraded from Ubuntu 7.10 to 8.04 alpha 6

Well, I took the plunge today and upgraded my 'lesser' system, rhea, from Ubuntu 7.10 to Ubuntu 8.04 alpha 6. The upgrade required over 1,200 files be upgraded/deleted/added, and over two hours of time for the whole process to complete. The time was long because the upgrade stopped twice for confirmations and I wasn't sitting in front of the keyboard to immediately make the decision. The good news is that the upgrade succeeded in spite of itself (more below). That's rather remarkable considering that I started with an Ubuntu 7.04 alpha 4 initial installation on this system, and I've been upgrading it every sense.

This is an upgrade to an alpha release, so a few odd events did transpire. Here's my short list of those odd little happenings.
  • I don't know when or why, but I had VirtualBox OSE (Open Source Edition) installed. It must be old age but I don't ever remember installing it. In any event the attempts to upgrade VirtualBox caused multiple installation failures (and halting of the process with dialog boxes). It appeared that the entire upgrade was a failure because of the virtualbox failures, leading me to have minor heart failure. In the end I calmed down and figured that if the upgrade was a failure I could re-install 7.10 from scratch. But after rebooting the system the upgrade was a much bigger success than the failure messages indicated.
  • The upgrade process halted and waited for me over samba. The dialog wanted to know if I wanted to keep my current samba configuration file. This was, again, one of those times I was away from the keyboard, and it just sat there until I got back. I kept the configuration file.
  • After the first reboot, I was pleasantly surprised to see that all the graphics effects still worked. Rhea has an nVidia 7600GS video card, unlike europa, which has an ATI X1950 Pro video card. I can only assume that the system was using the older drivers because I had the little 'nasty nag' dialog on the desktop telling me I had to enable the non-free drivers in order to use my card. I clicked on the icon, and the icon simply disappeared. I then went to the 'Change Desktop Background' dialog (right-click on the desktop) and clicked on the 'Visual Effects' tab. Under Ubuntu 7.10 there were four selections on that tab, with the forth being Custom. With this release the hook for custom Compiz settings is not there. In fact, none of the three selections were selected, so I selected Extra. It was at that point that I did get the custom video driver dialog and was able to 'enable' the use of the nVidia drivers (in spite of the fact that they seemed to be in place and running already). That blew my custom Compiz settings from 7.10, so I had to run ccsm from a shell to get back my custom settings and behaviors.
  • I'm concerned about upgrading to Firefox 3. My Adblock Filterset.G Updater is disabled at the moment because it's not compatible with Firefox 3. I've got other Firefox plugins on europa, which is why I am hesitant to upgrade europa.
Nits notwithstanding, the end result is pretty good. All my settings transferred unaltered. All the necessary codecs and drivers upgraded and transferred as well, so that all my multimedia continued to work. Again, this is an alpha and such problems as I've encountered can and will occur. But overall the complete experience is good. So far, on a 'slow' 1.8 GHz Athlon XP 2500+ and 512MB of DRAM, the system shows excellent performance, even with Firefox 3 open with multiple tabs and playing an MPEG4 movie. Obligatory eye candy follows.




From what I can tell I may be able to have full Compiz support on europa with its ATI card. I believe, from what I've seen so far with synaptic, that the repositories now contain the ATI 8.02 (February 2008) drivers. I think, however, I'll wait, at least until the second beta. Europa does yeoman work and rhea makes an excellent test bed.

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