back to article Early adopters bloodied by Ubuntu's Karmic Koala

Ubuntu 9.10 is causing outrage and frustration, with early adopters wishing they'd stuck with previous versions of the Linux distro. Blank and flickering screens, failure to recognize hard drives, defaulting to the old 2.6.28 Linux kernel, and failure to get encryption running are taking their toll, as early adopters turn to …


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  1. Gannon (J.) Dick
    Thumb Up

    Never got that far

    The Verizon Broadband promised a 17 hour download. Sometimes subtlety trumps karma, I guess.

  2. Cosmin Roman


    It would be a sad day when installing Linux would be flawless; where's the old times of compiling the new kernel, patchings over patchings, half-backed drivers downloading from umpteen places and chatting over irc with fellow linuxers ... happy days, they were!

    Of course tongue-in-cheek, but a bit of nostalgia still :)


  3. Anonymous Coward

    Koala Brains

    Perhaps a mistake to name it after a creature whose brain is *much* smaller than its skull.

  4. IT specialist

    It works beautifully on my netbook

    I just installed the Karmic Koala Netbook Remix on my Asus EeePC. I did a clean install. Works beautifully. I'm very happy.

  5. gollux

    Coming up in the world...

    Gosh, this is almost as good as upgrading Vista to Windows 7! Can't wait to upgrade the Linux box here, I need a little pain and suffering in my life. 6.06LT to 8.04LT was mildly annoying, but this sounds more like a real OS upgrade!

  6. fred slack 1
    Thumb Up

    A snap.....

    Downloaded...started install...went to dinner...came back... done....

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Great for older machine

    Updated to Karmic on p3 933mz 768 ram. No problems

  8. Tristan Young

    Ubuntu 9.10 karmic Koala

    I have to agree, Karmic isn't the release Linux users want.

    I have encountered the following issues thus far:

    - kernel error resulting from suspend/wake events

    - clicks, pops and audio cut-out during log-in sound, and in few other areas, mp3 playback is flawless.

    - loss of indicator-applet and indicator-applet-session. Had to clean install to get them back.

    - cpu frequency applet asks for my password the first time I change CPU speed. There doesn't seem to be any way to grant permanent permission to access the keyring.

    - notification system is brain-dead. Who the hell designed that? Can't close the notification, and the bubble turns transparent on mouse hover. WTF?

    - empathy, evolution, etc... - give me a break - don't install crapware I don't want.

    Am I glad to have installed 9.10? Yes.

    How many times did I have to install it: (Ubuntu) Twice

    Flavors tested: Ubuntu Desktop, Kubuntu Desktop

    Filesystem used: EXT4

    Install time: Reasonable (less than 30 minutes I think)

    Is Karmic ready for prime-time? No

    Is it still fun? Now that I have my bearings, yes.

  9. Gil Grissum

    9.10 went "BOOM" on me

    I made the mistake of attempting to update to 9.10 from within the package manager. It downloaded and installed most of the update but did not complete. A reboot produced a laptop that would no longer boot into either Windows Vista or Ubuntu. Thankfully, I still have my trusty Compaq laptop running XP. Ubuntu 9.04 was great, but 9.10 just didn't work for me. I'm not moving on to WIndows 7. XP is going to work fine for me for quite a while. No thanks Canonical. You lost me as a customer.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Don't believe internet polls...

    Don't believe internet polls. Particularly ones which will largely be voted on by people visiting forums for solutions to upgrade problems. For my part I've upgraded two laptops and a desktop, with very different specs, from 9.04 to 9.10, and as with all upgrades I've done with Ubuntu, all three went flawlessly. Two more upgrades to go, when I get round to it.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    O/S Upgrades never work!

    Who upgrades any O/S? All O/S makers say you can and maybe 10 years ago, with Win95 and DOS you could upgrade, but O/S these days has so many components, so much meta data the upgrades are complete tosh. Simply replacing some components in the middle of a working O/S, do me a favour!

    In the last 3 months I have installed all three of the big players new toys ( Win7, OSX SL and KK Ubuntu ) on a handful of machines and none of them were upgrades, they were all backup, clean and install from scratch jobs. Touch wood I have had no problems with any of them, they all worked perfect!

  12. Anonymous Coward

    @Koala Brains

    Better than a creature whose brain is larger than its skull.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Kernel version

    I don't understand, my 9.10 came with `uname -a`:

    Linux *****-desktop 2.6.31-14-generic #48-Ubuntu SMP Fri Oct 16 14:05:01 UTC 2009 x86_64 GNU/Linux

  14. LaeMi Qian Silver badge


    I had all sorts of these issues with the upgrade to Jaunty 6 months ago forcing me to do a clean install. Managed to miss any huge headaches this time (so far - still have to upgrade my mum's word processing terminal).

  15. J 3

    That's bad...

    Quite bad that so many people are having trouble. As the article says, it's usually not the completely clueless Joe Windows User who ventures into installing, let alone upgrading, an OS. Specially a Linux OS. And even then, the rate of failure is high.

    A question though: have they performed the equivalent poll when 9.04 was released? What about 8.10, 8.04, etc.? Maybe things are getting better? (probably not, or people wouldn't start creating polls all of a sudden now)

    For the record, fortunately I am in the camp that had both a flawless install (of Ubuntu Netbook Remix on a Eee 1000HE) and a flawless upgrade from 9.04 (Kubuntu on an ancient FrankenPC with 1.8 GHz CPU and 1 GB RAM -- apparently they finally fixed the damn update manager that was a disgrace in 9.04, or at least it has worked fine so far and much more capable).

  16. Paul 129

    Still happy

    Used this to upgrade my jaunty system. Found that compiz was no longer working, sound and printers. I had let it overwrite my sound and printer config files. Realized it had set my volume level to 0, one problem fixed, Installed the latest ATI driver from their website, and then re-enabled the cube and wallpapers, that's compiz sorted. Just been too busy to sort out the printer, I'll come to that when I need to. Everything else is working fine. I would like to try xbmc but I've got an ATI graphics card. Whilst the drivers are getting better, I haven't ever, been able to get it running.

    Pretty happy really, although, I'm used to X stuffing up with kernel updates due to aforementioned ATI drivers. It would be nice if they used DKMS or something similar...

  17. Ashley Stevens

    Hardest Ubuntu install ever

    It's gone midnight. I've just finished the 3rd install. (1 upgrade and 1 fresh before). Looking good this time, but Ubuntu's never been this hard before. Maybe it's my old hardware? (AMD Athlon and ATI R350 / 9550SE). Graphics drivers were the trickiest bit. Seems like they changed a lot this time. More of a revolutionary than evolutionary release it appears.

  18. hikaricore
    Paris Hilton

    Is this a joke?

    I've had no trouble at all and I've seen very few people with issues on UF.

    You have to wonder if paris wrote this article.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Charmed Koala on Thinkpad R40

    After having Intel video driver issues on Ubuntu 8.04, 8.10, 9.04 (I give each new version a try), I was very pleasantly surprised that 9.10 worked flawlessly on my IBM Thinkpad R40 with a clean install.

    The only issue I encountered was specifying the LPT printer port for a HP LJ1000 printer rather than the default HP driver port. Yes, the suspend/hibernate does not work, but everything else works great.

    I tried Windows 7 Executive, it was as slow to boot as XP, had Intel (!) video driver issues (could not get full resolution), the computer ran very hot, did lots of continuous disk swapping, even with no programs running.

    With Ubuntu Koala my computer boots very quickly, runs very cool, with no endless disk swapping.

    Thanks Ubuntu, Keep Koala-ing!

  20. Ashley Stevens
    Thumb Down

    Spoke too soon...

    OK, I spoke too soon. As soon as I turn on dual-head I lose graphics acceleration....

  21. keitai

    fail article

    I can't believe elreg chooses to write a article based on forum comments. Not only are forums are terribly bad source of information to begin with, but such internet polls are obviously biased in gathering people who have problems. Our enduser upgrade pilot went fine, and we'll probably proceed upgrading the rest soon. Then again we choose closely what hardware to use with ubuntu deployments.

    The key problem with ubuntu is of course that they claim to support more hardware than they are actually competent in supporting. "Ooh, lets puts this shiny half-working usb wifi driver so we can claim we support more hardware than other distros". Cue to wondering why ubuntu crashes when using wifi.

    The church-of-steve (not the ballmer one) model of selecting tightly what hardware to support, and supportinting them *well* would lead to much better user satisfaction than attempting to support all the craptastic taiwanese chipsets.

  22. jake Silver badge

    Is this all that surprising?

    *buntu is as bloated and untested as Win7 (or Vista SP2, if you prefer), and for the same reasons.

  23. Rebecca Putman

    It's working for me!

    I did the upgrade path on both my Dell Latitude D400 and my desktop with an AMD Athlon 64 X2 5200; I'm having no problems. On the Dell, mobile broadband has gotten easier!

    Although I have been noticing that gnome-panel goes a little wonky at times. I just go into System Monitor and end the process. It restarts, and bob's my uncle. Or Bob cries uncle. Something like that.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Hah hah hah

    I work for MS and this article made me chuckle. You get what you pay for and all that.........

  25. James O'Brien


    And the *nixtards comeout in defense......

    Why cant we just admit no OS is perfect?

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    at least

    when they finally patch all this crap they won't call it a new release and expect you to pay top dollar. Other less ethical companies might.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Cue the new mantra: Canonical the new Microsoft

    As far a the quality of the software that they are releasing.

    Disclaimer: I don't use any *buntu but I do use Linux on my laptop.

    That said, I just get the real feeling that the quality of their releases since 8.04 has dropped dramatically. Perhaps sticking to a ridgid 'release every 6 months' is the cause and the reason is that they are trying to do far to much for every release. Some time ago, a Fedora release was delayed a month because it was not ready. Ok a pita fot the users but makes sense in the longer term.


    Could it be that Shuttleworth wants to compete with Microsoft and his ego is getting in the way of a quest for quality rather than quantity?

  28. John Goodwin 4

    Sound always muted

    This is on two computers, one PC with an SB Audigy card on an upgrade, and a laptop with a clean install - which obviously has onboard sound.

    Empathy was replaced with Pidgin because of personal preference.

    Everything else works perfectly but the sound problem is a right royal PITA, and it needs to be fixed soon.

  29. Eponymous Cowherd
    Thumb Down

    Flickering screen.

    Had the flickering screen thing on first reboot. Solution was to boot into recovery, switch to runlevel 3, and compile/ install NVidia's own drivers.

    Not good.

  30. ChrisInBelgium
    Thumb Up


    Installed on a USB key to use with my work Thinkpad and fresh install on my 5 year old desktop at home, not one problem, and everything works out of the box.

    I'm impressed.

    As for doing an upgrade? Never works 100%. Not with Linux, not with Windows.

  31. sed gawk

    Mixed Results here,

    I run a number of *nix variants.

    Recently upgraded to 9.10 on two machines,

    1) a rebadged MSI Wind netbook,

    2) a older 1-2 year old craptop from fujitisu.

    All upgrades were performed in a gentoo vserver guest prior to cloning on to target machine.

    UNR 9.04 -> UNR 9.10

    Netbook (UNR) flawless, no problems, upgraded rebooted done.

    Ubuntu 9.04 -> 9.10

    Craptop, some problems

    1) PulseAudio,

    Reason: Ubuntu 9.10 switched to pulse audio by default, no policykit file is provided so PulseAudio HAL detection doesn't work out of the box.

    Fix: write a a policy-kit file, stick it under the /etc/dbus-1/system.d/ directory.

    [pastie] My one is here

    2) Media key events,

    The evdev driver still doesn't send key up events on volume_down or volume_up events so

    you can DOS your own box by pressing volume_up or volume_down.

    There is a small patch to fix this that I wrote based on another bug report.


    Fix, apply the patch, recompile and Finally copy your newly patched driver to the right location, and your done.

    N.B. The changing of the driver will cause X to restart, so don't worry when that happens.

    (this will only install to /usr/local/lib/xorg/modules/input/)

    mkdir tmp && cd tmp && apt-get source xserver-xorg-input-evdev &&

    wget -O - | patch -p1 && ./configure && make && sudo make install

    (this copies the new driver to final location)

    sudo cp /usr/local/lib/xorg/modules/input/ /usr/lib/xorg/modules/input/


    Bug: My previously working sound card stopped working

    Reason: /etc/modeprobe.d/alsa-base.conf is overwritten during upgrade.

    Fix: only for

    Audio device: Intel Corporation 82801G (ICH7 Family) High Definition Audio Controller (rev 02)

    The sound card needs a line added to /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf

    options snd-hda-intel model=lenovo-nb0763

    That's all she wrote folks, both machines working without any other issues as far as I can tell.

    Apart from policykit/ PulseAudio all the other issues are hardware related and down to having crap hardware in a cheap old laptop.

    Hope this helps someone

  32. dek

    Happy upgrader here.

    Upgraded from 9.04 without any problem.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Curate's egg

    I've had mixed experiences with 9.10 Karmic. A clean install on an old PC was fine and works well. An upgrade from 9.04 Jaunty on another old PC was mildly rocky - the automatic restart failed, and a manual restart was met with some error messages about unresolved dependencies; but these were easily fixed. However, a less experienced user might well have been phased - not good, really. Is all this due to the helter-skelter 6-monthly release schedule? Probably - as the point releases after the initial dust has settled are usually fine.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Tristan Young

    "notification system is brain-dead. Who the hell designed that? Can't close the notification, and the bubble turns transparent on mouse hover. WTF?"

    I had that but I thought it was an odd artifact of the MS Virtual PC setup that I've got to use here. I did get rid of it but can't remember if it was by clicking on the desktop or pressing the escape key... let me go see if I can repro it... nah, can't at the moment, sorry.

    Anyone know anything about the boot process? The startup sequence is fine here until it switches the font/terminal characteristics and then the screen gets messed up. Reading up suggests it's a vga setting in grub but I can't find it...

  35. slack

    No thanks

    I installed 9.10 on 3 identical desktops (2 Ubuntu and 1 Kubuntu) to see what it was like nowadays. It was a nice easy install but one of them flatly refuses to find its nic, the other two do fine.

    I cannot get a Brother multifunction printer to scan despite hours and hours of reading. There are a lot of people with the same problem apparently. I had the same problem with Slackware 12.2 but a quick edit of a Udev rule fixed it, no such luck with Ubuntu. I put Slackware 13 onto the one that can't find its nic and it works perfectly.

    The Ubuntu ones look good (17" LCD monitors) but the Kubuntu one has tiny, ugly fonts, especially in the terminal. The KDE GUI controls seem to be a bit spotty at times. Overall I think that I will be putting Slackware back on to the 2 remaining boxes as I find it a lot easier to manage than (K)Ubuntu, but that is probably only because I have a lot more experience with Slackware than anything else.

  36. yosemite

    Not plain sailing

    I'm a relatively new Linux user (9 months-ish), but not a computer virgin (I'm a SQL DBA), so Ubuntu made sense to me. 9.04 and worked pretty well on my Acer Aspire 5684.

    However, the upgrade to Karmic ruined it (even with a split partitions for root and home). It took 5 minutes or more to get to the logon prompt and then another 2mins to an almost unworkable desktop. Lots of forum googling led me to the conclusion it was all down to the *completely* missing graphic drivers.

    Only after another 2 failed attempts did a full clean install finally work even then I had no nvidia drivers and had to manually install them with envy (text version) before the long boot times disappeared and I actually got to the desktop.

    I'm a lifelong Windows user but I have with no entrenched OS loyalty. I like Ubuntu and want to see more competition in the desktop arena but, this isn't the way to win over the man in the street.

  37. Mike Howell

    All these and more

    I updated on the 9.10 rc, only to find a black screen when restarted, I have an Intel 945 graphics chip on my lap top so not sure what the problem was. So I went for a clean install and it couldnt find my USB hard drive so installed on a partition on my main drive.

    It did install and it did start, lots of popping from the sound card when logging in and it wouldnt recognise my Broadcom Wireless, I updated but still no wireless, checked forums and found a problem with FWcutter, so gave up, deleted the partition, re-installed 9.04 on my USB hard drive and am as happy as a pig in sh*t.

    My advise- if your a N00B like me wait till they solve the problems and stick with 9.04.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    No problems

    The Dell 4 processor monster which has 7.04 and been progressively upgraded since, 9.10 works like a dream *and* the sound card now works. Dual monitors, no hassle at all...

    The T41 now runs faster that it ever did before, again, not one problem at all.

    Still, at least you know where the user data is kept if you have to make a clean install, unlike Windows where things have a habit of being spread around...

    Well done Canonical I say!

  39. popey


    " Ubuntu 9.10 is installing the old Linux kernel - 2.6.28 - not the new, 2.6.31 kernel released in September, with Ubuntu 9.10 also failing to see hard drives on certain machines."

    Not strictly true. If someone was running 9.04 (which shipped with a 2.6.28 kernel) and upgraded, they would get the 2.6.31 kernel installed but for some reason the default was still the old kernel. The net result may look the same, but the situation is easily resolved with one command.

    Whilst I appreciate there have been many who have had issues with 9.10, this is balanced by huge numbers of people who upgrade with little or no issue, and who don't report this fact because it's non-newsworthy.

  40. Anonymous Coward

    Re: O/S Upgrades never work! ?

    Try a real OS. Rarely had a Solaris upgrade fail on me yet, except alpha/beta builds. Even smoother now with ZFS.

  41. PeterC

    Koala installed and working great first time!

    Koala installed and working fine first time for me - no problems at all. Boots fast, on my old Vaio VGN-SZ2XP, nvidia graphics working fine, no screen flicker. Love the new software centre.

    Tried to load windows 7 HP onto same laptop - total disaster. All drivers had problems and after 2 days of trying to get it all working fine.... I gave up and installed Koala over weekend onto the same machine. Effortless install. The speed difference between the Win 7 and Koala is very noticeable.

  42. Simon
    Gates Horns

    Maybe the problem is between the keyboard and the chair?

    Kubuntu here with ($ uname -r) 2.6.31-14-generic

    All works perfectly, even plays all region DVD's and syncs to Wm6.1.

    Thanks Medibuntu.

  43. Mage Silver badge

    Flickery Screen

    I prefer clean installs.

    I did one install no problem, the 2nd PC the graphics was an old Creative GB300 and was very poor (faulty output signals, not SW) so I put in an old ATI card instead. Flickery screen and unable to log into console during boot to reconfigure as characters typed only occasionally entered, no * to indicate if a password char has been entered or not.. A reinstall fixed it.

    A happy penguin.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fear Uncertainty Doubt

    Can anyone say FUD?

  45. Anonymous Coward

    Kernel version

    It may be that the bootloader, Grub, has not have been updated correctly when upgrading.

    The installer defaults to keeping the present menu.lst file, and the Kernel version may then not be updated. The menu.lst file can be updated by hand, it is at /bbot/grub/menu.lst

    The Ubuntu forums are very helpful.

  46. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    I did a clean install (wiped my old openSUSE 10.3) and...

    flickering screens (NVIDIA graphics) refusal to log in even in text mode. REALLY crap. Back to openSUSE (11.1, for now and 11.2 in a few days).

    What is also very stupid of Ubuntu is that I cannot find an option to download the older version (9.04) anywhere.


    Fortunately I did back-up

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    9.04 was better

    I suppose this is the thing about foss, if this was an MS product I would get PSS to get me some hotfixes, but hey.

    I've experianced really odd problems with some nVidia cards, once the driver's installed some won't go above 640x480 (although they did with the same driver on 9.04!!!) and one of my laptops keeps getting serious kernel problems. And these were clean installs Doh! At the end of the day it is free though so you do pay for what you get! Hehe... I liked that comment about losing a customer :)

  48. Colin Guthrie

    @Tristan: Notifications

    I'm not an Ubuntu user, but it was my understanding that the notification system was introduced last release? I have to agree with you overall tho'. While the graphics on notify-osd are really pretty (and macslow is one of the best graphical OS coders out there - following his blog is a treat and he's a very nice guy to talk to too), but the decision to not support the "actions" part of the notifications spec is IMO a seriously bad decision on Shuttleworth's part. Their guidelines on all the apps they now have to patch to support this (most libnotify clients incorrectly assumed that "actions" support was available to be fair) actually suggest rolling your own UI to handle the cases where you want feedback from the user. In a time when KDE is finally adopting this standard and we can hope for some kind of cross desktop consistency in this is totally bucking the trend and basically telling people to "do it your own way".... it laughs in the face of HCI guidelines :(

    I wrote a longer tirade on this topic earlier in the year:

  49. noroimusha

    nice release

    apart from the occasional clicks and pops coming out from the speakers , on one instance X did not start up but re-tried and it worked fine. ( HP dv6615em )

    Ubuntu is still very good most of my non-technical friends ask me the question :

    Q: What kind of windows is this ?

    A: LOL, this is linux

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    My experience with 9.10

    I did a clean install of 9.10 and everything worked. I encountered one small problem in that the speakers on my laptop would make an intermittent popping sound every 5-10 seconds. A quick search on the Ubuntu forums solved the issue straight away.

    I needed to install some extra drivers to get my wireless working, but Ubuntu detected my wireless card and found the correct drivers for me automatically and the whole process from detecting, to download and install, to reboot took less than 2 minutes.

    I have been using Ubuntu on and off since 5.04 and this is without doubt the best version yet.

    I would say don't be put off by this article if you're thinking of trying Ubuntu. You may have a few teething problems, but there's always the option to try the Live CD first without installing anything, or you can install it without changing your Windows partition at all, so there's no risk. If you do a full install and have problems, the Ubuntu forums are an awesome place to get help and support and almost any problem you have, the chances are someone else has already had and solved it, and posted the solution there.

    I can't recommend 9.10 highly enough.


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