Posted by: reformedmusings | December 18, 2008

Moving from Kubuntu 8.04 to Ubuntu 8.10

I finally decided that I wanted the USB and other improvements in Intrepid Ibex, but didn’t want the big step backwards in capability from KDE 3.5 to KDE 4. Based on my testing of Ubuntu 8.10 on my backup disk, I decided to jump ship from KDE to Gnome for the time being.

I struggled for a word to lead the title. It’s not officially possible to “upgrade” across different desktops. Technically, Kubuntu Hardy upgrades only to Kubuntu Intrepid. One approach could be to upgrade to Kubuntu Intrepid, then install Ubuntu Intrepid’s Gnome desktop, then uninstall the KDE desktop. To clean up the loose debris left behind, one should run

sudo apt-get autoremove

That will find and uninstall libraries and support files left behind by the massive uninstall effort that are no longer needed. I did that with KDE4 and Enlightenment 0.17 and it worked fine, but both installs were fresh, whereas I haven’t done a fresh install on my production system since Edgy. Lots of miscellaneous stuff running around there.

So, the only right answer was a fresh install of Ubuntu Intrepid. Two things make that approach workable without great pain. First, I partitioned my hard drives in 3 parts:

/ = 15 GB
/home = 303 GB
swap = 2 GB

I highly recommend this type of layout, as it keeps all your user data is safe on the /home directory. That allows you to format and install whatever Linux distribution that you want on / while keeping your data and most of your settings safe (as long as you’re careful not to format /home by accident). Second, since I’m paranoid, I also have a mirror of the /home partition on another hard disk that I also use to test stuff. If anything did happen to my primary /home partition, then I have a ready backup ready to copy over. Alway be ready for the unexpected.

Since I use RAID 1 on my production system, I had to use the Ubuntu 8.10 alternate installation CD. In the process, I learned that the 2.6.27-7 kernel had been updated to correctly recognize my motherboard’s NVidia FakeRAID settings. That caused a significant headache as I could not get the kernel to ignore the hardware FakeRAID and keep the software RAID I had started back on Edgy, nor would mdadm ignore the software RAID superblocks on the two drives. I’ll write another post about that journey. In the end, the NVidia SATA FakeRAID mirrored the drives nicely under Ubuntu Intrepid.

The installation went smoothly (other than the RAID part). Ubuntu detected all my hardware without issue. It also picked up my settings on the /home partition for all my important programs. I used the same procedures as I tested in this post and this one. I also applied the fix from this post for the scanner. Then, I moved the top panel to the bottom, added my most-used applications to the panel, set the background and theme to recover the beautiful blues, and it turned out like this:

Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid setup

Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid setup

Not too shabby. In fact, not dramatically different than my old KDE setup. Other aspects of the Emerald theme and Compiz Fusion settings are the same as this test setup.

Let’s talk about settings for a moment. In moving from KDE to Gnome desktop distributions, I still had a lot of KDE settings on /home. The Ubuntu 8.10 installation picked up those settings, which resulted in bogus menu entries and some strange settings in Gnome. It only took a few minutes to clean up and was well worth the preservation of my primary program settings in apps like Moneydance, VMware Workstation, Open Office, Krusader, and Thunderbird. As soon as these apps were either installed and/or executed, they picked up right where they left off.

I’ll follow up with posts on the FakeRAID issue, my challenge with Firefox,  and on some tweaking thoughts on Gnome.

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Responses

  1. […] Linux kernel version 2.6.27-7 according to this launchpad entry. This caught me by surprise when I installed Ubuntu 8.10 over Kubuntu 8.04. I had the NVidia RAID support disabled in the BIOS and used mdadm  to mirror the […]


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