Best practice for an upgrade to Jaunty Jackalope?
June 19, 2009 9:17 AM   Subscribe

I need to help my friend upgrade from Intrepid Ibex to Jaunty Jackalope. I'd appreciate any tips or advice for doing this. What's the best backup tool to use, and how do I restore from the backup if things go wrong? I'm thinking something like Time Machine would be nice, but I can do command line stuff, too. Any other best practice tips for the upgrade itself? Thanks so much in advance.
posted by zenja72 to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If your friend needs help upgrading, it's extremely unlikely they'll have done anything complicated to the system that would require a disk clone or full system backup or anything more involved than backing up the home directory and writing down their installed programs in the application menu.

Just copy the /home/friend/ folder to a external/flash drive. If the computer becomes unbootable, just do a clean install and copy over the non-hidden contents (personal files) of /home/friend/. You can restore the hidden contents (config/setting files) once you've reinstalled the software from the ubuntu repositories. I would do that one folder/package at a time and only with programs that are time-consuming to tweak like Firefox.

If Jaunty itself breaks something big which the friend can't live without (there's an annoying video/audio bug for some intel hardware currently, for instance), just do a fresh install of Intrepid and restore according to the above. All that said, ubuntu distro upgrades are very gentle and you and your friend shouldn't have any problems.
posted by cowbellemoo at 9:41 AM on June 19, 2009

At a minimum, back up /home and /etc. /usr/local if your friend put anything there (probably not); /var/games if there's anything there (it seems like roguelikes like putting stuff there and maybe nothing else does.)

Do a dpkg -l > $HOME/installed_packages.txt first to make sure you have a good list of what's installed.

Easiest thing is probably to mount an external drive, as cowbellemoo says, and, e.g.,

cp -a /home /media/whatever

Personally, I've been burned too often by automatic major version upgrades to consider them worthwhile, and my practice is to swap the existing drive with a new one, install from scratch and selectively copy over files from the old drive now in an external enclosure. But, then, I'm prone to doing the sort of complicating things that cowbellemoo reasonably assumes your friend isn't.
posted by Zed at 9:54 AM on June 19, 2009

I've been looking into sane backup practices lately, after ten releases of doing upgrades like you want without them. It's possible to go without backups, but I can't say it's a smart idea.

Step 1. Make backups. You should be doing this already anyways, but we're all lazy. There's tons of backup systems out there; for a one time backup just use rsync or cp or whatever to a different drive. Then disconnect the drive so no complications arise that also destroy your backup.

Step 1b. Check your backups. You don't have to necessarily reinstall from them, but maybe make sure the files you expect are there and the size of the backup is what you expect. Nothing's worse than finding out all that time you spent on making a backup was wasted.

Step 2. Grab a LiveCD. Boot up the PC on it and make sure the normal stuff works. Remember that Intrepid still has some support time left if you fear not upgrading.

Step 3. Get a reliable power source and network connection. Don't try to upgrade a laptop on a battery, it's madness.

Step 4. Run the dist-upgrade manager. System->Administration->Update Manager. It should see the newly available distribution, and offer to upgrade. When you're confident, click through the upgrade process. Hopefully with the LiveCD the upgrade process won't take as long to download.
posted by pwnguin at 9:57 AM on June 19, 2009

An upgrade should work pretty well - they've really improved the process so that big problems are rare (at least, in my experience). In the event that something fails, or you decide to install from scratch:

- in addition to what's mentioned above, be sure to backup the /opt/ directory too - some people/programs stick stuff there

- you can reinstall all of your apps and libraries by doing the following before reinstalling

$> dpkg --get-selections | grep -v deinstall > ubuntu-files

This will give you a list of all the currently installed programs in the file "ubuntu-files"

After your new install, copy the list over and do the following:
$> sudo apt-get update
$> dpkg –set-selections < ubuntu-files
$> sudo dselect

This will open up a dselect session. Type 'I' and allow dselect to
install of the the packages listed in your ubuntu-files document. When
it's finished, type 'Q' and hit the ENTER key to exit dselect.

Also consider setting up separate partitions for his data and operating system so that future reinstalls are easier.
posted by chrisamiller at 10:33 AM on June 19, 2009 [3 favorites]

I had some hangups when I updated from I to J and after I got it all sorted out, I made myself a little list:


*Copy 3rd Party Sources List

*Export Synaptic Markings

*Mouse and Keyboard: "My work around for this has been to edit /etc/default/bluetooth. Scroll to the line that says "HID2HCI_ENABLED=1" and change it to "HID2HCI_ENABLED=0"

*Graphics&Display: Use Intel Driver 2.4 (via synaptic):

The first three have been noted by others above.

The bottom two are reminders about how to reapply the duct tape and bailing wire.
posted by notyou at 12:48 PM on June 19, 2009

Just curious: Wouldn't an automatic package inventory (by dkpg or synaptic) from a previous distro version wreak a little havok when installed en masse on a newer distro version? How are conflicts with obsoleted packages avoided? Or would one just never mix an Intrepid package dump with a Jaunty package dump for those reasons?
posted by cowbellemoo at 1:26 PM on June 19, 2009

You're not dumping packges, you're dumping the names of packages. When asked to be installed en masse, aptitude will calculate an upgrade plan. Since package names are independent of their versions (mostly), you should get upgraded version when running the dselect trick, just as you would when running dist-upgrade.
posted by pwnguin at 1:48 PM on June 19, 2009

My unstated intent was that one would refer to the dpkg -l output to see what apps one needed to add, and then add them manually, avoiding any weirdness from package organization and dependencies having changed. I keep meaning to use wajig consistently so I can use its log as a useful reference. Maybe next time I'll alias aptitude, apt-get, apt-cache, and dpkg to "echo Use wajig".
posted by Zed at 2:02 PM on June 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

I keep my home directory in a separate partition and do a fresh install of the OS for the upgrade. When the partitioner asks me I partition manually, being triple sure that "DO NOT FORMAT" is set for /home. It works great.
posted by COD at 2:48 PM on June 19, 2009

I've rarely had good experiences updating Ubuntu. I'd say just migrate all important data into a backup place and reinstall from scratch.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 2:51 PM on June 19, 2009

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