back to article Top tip, power users – upgrading Ubuntu may knacker your Linux PC

Canonical says it is working to fix a problem that's crippling some Ubuntu PCs after they've been upgraded to the latest version of the Linux distro. A spokesperson for the company told The Reg it is aware of a "small number" of "power users" are seeing their PCs crash following the move to 14.04. Until there's a fix, the …


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    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Grub problems.

      Mine doesn't leave old kernels behind - sometimes I've had to do an auto remove to get rid of them but..

      Done several upgrades on this laptop with a EUFI configuration (dual boot into Windows 7) and its never glitched at all.

      1. Tommy Pock

        Re: Grub problems.

        I thought that, until I checked. sudo autoremove doesn't get rid of old kernels - only you're trusted to do that.

        When I did check one day, I had a couple of gigabytes of the buggers lying about.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Grub problems

      "You can bet it break any Windows boot loader entries too"

      Install Grub to the root partition. In Windows, install EaseUS Partition Master Free and set Linux active; reboot, use Grub, keep a working Windows boot loader. Almost everyone is happy.

  1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    'Twas ever thus

    Was happily using Ubuntu 11.04. Decided to upgrade to 11.10 which promptly went berserk as it couldn't handle the integrated graphics on my old Shuttle box. Major hassle getting it back to 11.04. When I can afford a new box then I may have another go with a serious Linux distro.

    1. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

      Re: 'Twas ever thus

      "Was happily using Ubuntu 11.04. Decided to upgrade to 11.10 which promptly went berserk as it couldn't handle the integrated graphics on my old Shuttle box."

      Actually, a lot of video drivers were completely wrecked in 11.10 that worked in 11.04; in 12.04 most of these worked again.

      I used to run every new Ubuntu version, starting with 8.04 or so. But, 10.10 just broke stuff compared to 10.04; 11.04 came together pretty well; 11.10 was quite broken again, and the real "fix" for it was to upgrade to 12.04. Given this, with 12.10, and 13.xx, I tested them strictly in VMs. I'll go right from 12.04 to 14.04 on my real hardware (which apparently does avoid the specific grub problem here, since it's manifested on 13.10->14.04 upgrades.)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Now I'm glad... "wait two week" upgrade protocol.

    1. Salts

      Re: Now I'm glad...

      Yep, only way to fly, unlike my, wife especially when it comes to iOS upgrades, she is front and centre for upgrades, when hers starts working properly I upgrade mine, I never seem to have a problem :-)

      Not sure how many power users run out to upgrade immediately on their production box either and that's any OS or distro not just Ubuntu, simple rules

      1 upgrade for Linux Kernel, wait one week

      2. upgrade for Linux Distro any flavour wait 2-4 weeks

      3. upgrade for OSX wait 2-4 weeks

      4. upgrade for windows available depending on version number wait 2-3 months or 2 - 3 years :-)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Now I'm glad...

      I don't use anything other than LTS releases, and my policy is to always wait 6-months to a year for all the major bugs to be found/fixed.

      Installed new server on Saturday, 12.04.4 LTS all the way!

  3. Tsu Dho Nimh

    " the upgrade breaks the GRUB bootloader, rendering the machine unbootable."

    I had that problem multiple times with Ubuntu, maybe even with the last install ... instead of reading my GRUB and keeping the information it writes a default GRUB file. And, because my disk drive assignments aren't bog standard, It can't find the boot information.

    I reported it several times and got zero response from them.


      Tempest in a teacup

      It's usually that other OS that trashes your boot loader. This is so common and has gone on for so long that no one should be the least bit shocked or bothered by this kind of situation. The only real difference here is the identity of the culprit.

      1. sabroni Silver badge

        Yeah fucking Microsoft! Bunch of twats.

        Sorry, what was the article about again?

      2. h4rm0ny

        Re: Tempest in a teacup

        So just to get this straight - a problem is with Ubuntu is a reason for you to attack Microsoft. Makes me wonder what wouldn't be, to you. Seriously - why do you always want to make everything a flamefest about One True OS? They're both good and neither perfect.

  4. Truth4u

    top tip: ubuntu is full of crap

    What a clever idea to unify the search so you have one box to find files and applications, because once you're using it, they have you by the balls to insert any kind of junk advertising they want into the results. And that's exactly what they've done.

    Used to be an ubuntu fan but there's nothing cool about an OS that shows adverts.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: top tip: ubuntu is full of crap

      I wouldn't use Ubuntu precisely because of that but I thought you could just turn that "feature" off after the shit-storm it caused?

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: top tip: ubuntu is full of crap

        Yes you can turn it off and it will be off-by-default in the next 14.10 release.

        But this is an LTS release aimed at corporates, sp especially annoying to have it turned on

    2. simon_brooke

      Re: top tip: ubuntu is full of crap

      Top tips:

      (a) use the configuration, Luke

      (b) use of Unity is in any case optional.

      1. Truth4u

        Re: top tip: ubuntu is full of crap

        Since adverts are on by default and you need to use the menu to change the settings, looking at at least one advert will always be mandatory in Ubuntu. Ok you probably know some super keyboard shortcut to change the settings, but I would rather memorize more important things than that so there.

  5. Greg J Preece

    Worked OK here upgrading Kubuntu on my desktop. Given that the laptop is a tri-boot hybrid-partition bootloader mess (thanks, Apple!) I might hold off on doing that one for now...

  6. Johnny Canuck

    Boot a live cd, chroot into your installation, update-grub.

    1. DropBear Silver badge

      "Just drop out the tranny, lift the engine, resurface the block, throw it back together - easy. What the heck are you lot whining about...?" Right? Right...

  7. ecofeco Silver badge

    News a day late and a dollar short for me

    The only thing really stopping Ubuntu from taking over has been very poor QC of the last 3 versions and a joke of an installer and updater.

    Fix that and make it dirt simple for non-techies to install, and world domination will happen.

    Oh, and as for the recommended fixes? NONE of them worked. The final fix was to boot to a Win DVD, get a command prompt and run bootrec/fixmbr.

    Took me 3 hours to find the fix and 10 minutes to actually fix it.

    1. keithpeter

      Re: News a day late and a dollar short for me

      "The only thing really stopping Ubuntu from taking over has been very poor QC of the last 3 versions and a joke of an installer and updater."

      And providing as wide a testing coverage on real hardware as possible, is what The Community should really be doing. Without that QC teams have fewer issues to work with. I recollect various pleas for more ISO testing, and specifically upgrade testing on various Ubuntu outlets a few years ago when 12.04 was coming in. I did do some ISO tests on 12.04 with shonky Intel integrated graphics on an old AMD box I had.

      Could we perhaps be seeing here the effect of a shift of the hobbyists and tinkerers to other Linux distributions? The kind of people who will spend a Sunday morning tracking down an obscure issue on a particular combination of hardware with a specific distribution rather than just tossing it and installing another?

      Debian Stable and the Enterprise Linuxen (RHEL, CentOS, Springdale Linux and Oracle Linux) are generally regarded as more stable and better tested than Ubuntu, but that may simply be a reflection of the much longer testing periods. Packages tend to be older on Debian Stable and the ELs. Swings, roundabouts.

  8. Tony Green

    Grub is a problem

    Most things breaking are (relatively) trivial to fix. If Grub goes tits-up, it's a serious problem.

    Funnily enough, Grub updates are the reason I gave up Ubuntu and moved to Debian. Four or five routine Grub updates threw up messages that they'd failed and my computer may be un-bootable.

    I can restore my system from backups easily for almost any problem, but if the Grub bootloader's bust, I'm in the shit!

  9. damian fell

    Hmm - I actually found this the first upgrade for Ubuntu that worked without breakign anything, so it's obviously not a universal fault.

  10. RAMChYLD

    Ah, inability to boot

    I just filed a bug report for it this weekend. Seems pretty silly that they forgot to include the dm-raid modules in the initrd and thus renders the rebuild of my media center unbootable since I decided out of the blue to convert the box to RAID5 (and convert it to Linux from Win7, but that's because of my lately-increased hatred for M$). It's a pretty silly mistake since the modules are needed for the machine to boot. I did manage to fix it tho.


    Ironically, I have two other RAIDed Ubuntu boxes and they upgraded and boot fine, albeit they're fitted with RAID0 instead, since they're built primarily for my gaming needs.

    I also have a problem with the NetworkManager applet not showing on all three boxes- may file a bug report later, once I figure out how to fix that- the internet searches seems to suggest that there's an error in the dbus config somewhere.

  11. Stoneshop Silver badge

    Power users

    However, our reader remarked the only reason more people haven't reported this bug is that most have been locked out their systems all week.

    These are not the power users you are looking for.

  12. simon_brooke

    Crisis? What crisis?

    Yeah, yeah, this happened to mine. It's a bore, but it takes five minutes to fix, and if you're a 'power user' you'll know precisely how to do it.

    Boot from a USB stick, mount your hard drive, symlink your (real) boot directory to /boot, dpkg-reconfigure grub-pc


  13. Brian Souder 1

    Dell Studio 1535 Laptop

    My Dell Studio 1535 seems to have problems waking up from sleep on 14.04. The screen stays blanked and I would assume it is off in la la land if it were not that the lighting in the keyboard comes on for a few moments. And they still did not fix the reversed power save mode when you go on and off battery power. Everything is fine while you are on battery - then you plug-in and it dims the screen like you went on battery. You can at least use the brightness keys to bring it back up. Reported that one last year.

  14. MadMike

    Linux has no design

    Linus Torvalds has said that Linux does not have a design, and will never have. Instead, big parts are rewritten all the time, so we iterate to a better version. Just like nature evolved humans from apes. This "rewrite and throw everything all the time" is superior to a stable design - according to Linus.

    This leads to big parts of the code being in beta stage all the time. The code never has time to mature, so it is unstable all the time. Just read all the threads here on problems when upgrading. Linux is very fragile, upgrade it and chances are big it won't work. But hey, people said that Windows is the best system for years. So there will be people saying that Linux is the best system.

    Linux is the new Windows, fragile and sloppy code. Another big problem is that the internal Linux ABIs are frequently changed so you need to modify your device drivers, and recompile them. New kernel releases might trigger recompilations and modifications. Depending on which kernel you use, you need to use the corresponding device version. That is one of the reason this article was written. Big OEM vendors have large problems updating all device drivers every time the Linux ABIs are changed. They need to employ developers doing this. Say HP has 1.000 drivers, and they have 10 developers doing nothing but this. Then they have to fix 1000 drivers each. How long will it take to modify and recompile 1000 drivers for a single programmer? Say he does 10 drivers a day, it will take 100 days. But before that, Linus Torvalds has chagned the ABIs again.

    No other OS has this broken device driver model as Linux has. Within a windows version, your drivers will work. Within XP, your driver will work no matter you run XP SP1, SP2 or SP3. With Win8, your drivers will work no matter you run 8.1 or 8 SP1 or SP2, etc. Only Linux has this broken model. And that is the reason you get problems when you upgrade Linux. And this article could be written.

  15. henrydddd

    Fresh install

    I did a fresh install of Ubuntu 14.04 on the day after it was released. So far I have had no problems and 14.04 is both faster and less buggy that 12.04. I have had many problems in the past with Ubuntu messing up using the upgrade option, so I jiust nuke the hard drive and do a fresh install and I have had fewer problems. I have been using Ubuntu since it was in the 5's

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I can't remember an upgrade of this box ever preventing in from booting. Of course I am using Lilo without an initrd. Saves a boatload of hassle

  17. ShrekD'Ogre

    Whew! Lucky Me

    I just updated my nine year old's Ultra book to 14.04 from 13.10. Went off without a hitch.

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  19. J 3

    Yup, happened to one of my computers. But 5 minutes later it was fixed -- well, because I had the live USB right there, I'm familiar with Grub2, Linux boot, blah blah. If I wasn't, then things would have been definitely more scary.

  20. johnwerneken

    what a nuisance

    I suppose I shall burn an Alternate DVD and restore grub on the Linux partition, redo the multiboot stuff after if needed.

    Snazzy mass market distro should not do such things. With dual boot in mbr and not with grup but with windows, none of the easier ways of addressing this type of thing apply. Takes too much fussing rebooting each time to verify which of Linux, grub, windows mbr bootloader, or that bootloader's multi-boot bcd entries or the config snippet from the Linux partition is a fault; to fix the offending component; and to verify everything works, not just the same or a different selection of some things.


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