apt-get dist-upgrade broken going from Dapper to Edgy?

by Jeremy Jones

I stumbled across a message on the Ubuntu Devel mailing list this weekend which I found pretty disturbing. Here is the body of the message. This mail thread is commenting on a recent Slashdot article on the pain of upgrading from Dapper to Edgy. The thing that disturbed me was this comment:

Although it is very difficult to diagnose problems from blog and forum
posts (hence the analysis below is probably wrong, incomplete and
unhelpful) I think a large number of problems fall into the following

* Using apt-get dist-upgrade rather than upgrade-manager
- Could this be reduced by emphaising on the release notes, on
ubuntu.com and in the support channels, the correct way to upgrade?
- Could apt be patched to give clearer warnings that dist upgrading
could break your system, and recommend that the user run upgrade
manager instead. In fact, just run update-manager when the user tries
this, whilst siulanousy taking their pony away from them

The replies in the rest of the thread never refuted that using upgrade-manager (I assume he's meaning update-manager) is the "right" way to upgrade. However, at least one person replied back and stated what I was thinking, namely that it's absurd to officially discourage (or prevent!) Ubuntu users from upgrading their systems by `apt-get dist-upgrade`. I'm still digging around to see if update-manager is the official means of upgrading a system.

If some of the pain that I experienced is because of doing a dist-upgrade rather than update-manager, then someone needs to do a better job of making the community aware of how they should be upgrading their systems. I didn't run Automatix or Easyubuntu. I didn't have Beryl/Compiz installed and definitely didn't have the Beryl repositories in sources.list. And I didn't have any binary video drivers installed which I had downloaded from the vendor. These are some of the other factors contributing to a painful upgrade, so it must just be my use of "apt-get dist-upgrade". This was a pretty vanilla install I was upgrading from. I would have expected it to go smoother.

If you are upgrading from Dapper to Edgy, beware. I've read way too many tales of pain and woe from the above referenced Slashdot article to discount possible problems with this upgrade. You may want to try running update-manager with a "-c" flag (checks if a new distribution release is available). Actually, first backup your data. Then update. Or just install from scratch.


Jeremy Fluhmann
2006-10-30 07:39:54
I had some problems upgrading, but nothing that wasn't easily resolved. I followed the instructions below (from http://kubuntu.org/announcements/6.10-release.php). I don't know if having kubuntu vs. plain ubuntu installed makes a difference, but everything seems to work fine for me now. Before, my sound didn't work, but after the upgrade I NOW HAVE SOUND! :-D

Here's how my upgrade experience went:
* I followed the instructions below
* It took a day to download all of the packages over my DSL connection, but it was only downloading at around 15k
* The last few packages failed and upgrade stopped.
* I re-ran: sudo apt-get dist-upgrade -f, and everything finished successfully
* I then ran: sudo apt-get install kubuntu-desktop python-qt3 python-kde3 ubuntu-minimal
* After that finished, I rebooted but there was a problem with the video driver (I recently installed the nvidia driver). I changed the settings back to what they originally were and rebooted.
* My system came up like expected and everything seems to work like it should (including my sound!)

Upgrading from 6.06 LTS

Users of Kubuntu 6.06 LTS can upgrade to 6.10 over the internet by following these instructions:

* NOTE: This procedure upgrades your system over the Internet, which requires a large download of several hundred megabytes.
* In Konqueror go to /etc/apt, right click on sources.list and choose Actions -> Edit as Root
* Change all instances of dapper to edgy
* Launch a console with KMenu -> System -> Konsole
* In the console run: sudo apt-get update
* In the console run: sudo apt-get dist-upgrade and follow the prompts to upgrade
* In the console run: sudo apt-get install kubuntu-desktop python-qt3 python-kde3 ubuntu-minimal and follow the prompts to install
* Reboot your computer

2006-10-30 13:41:44
The Ubuntu Forums are littered with horror stories as well. I think I'll hold off for a while.

FWIW, I tried the live CD on my desktop machine, and didn't get a screen at all, not even during the boot process -- even though the simple Matrox card in it has been supported in Debian since forever.

The live CD worked fine on my IBM z60m laptop, on the other hand. And I must say that Gnome seemed quite a bit smoother, so I'm on the fence about upgrading this machine.

Thanks for posting, Jeremy. I agree with you that "apt-get dist-upgrade" should remain an official way to upgrade. Let us know if Ubuntu really decided to deprecate apt.

Carla Schroder
2006-10-30 20:05:39
Mine went blooey in a big way. Dist-upgrading from Dapper to Edgy totally horked my LVM- it just plain ate it, orphaning several partitions in the process. Thanks Canonical, for reminding me of the importance of backups!
2006-10-31 06:41:59
I've had similar issues upgrading myself. In the end, I ended up downloading an issue, and reinstalling the new version.

It really is a shame that this issues have been happening with the last version of ubuntu. Linux distributions have been making long strides to convince every day users that they can present an operating system that is just as easy to use and maintain as any windows or mac OS. I still have faith in ubuntu and other linux distro's, but it is imperative that update mechanisms and other vital areas of the operating system be properly tested before they are widely distributed.

In their defense, there were a lot of factors which were outside of their control (like the binary drivers, and third party packages). They have done an excellent job at providing an easy to use, reliable distro.

You can do all the good in the world, but people will always remember your failures over your merits.

2006-10-31 08:55:16
The release notes at http://www.ubuntu.com/download/releasenotes/610 specifically state that you may upgrade with apt-get dist-upgrade.
Anton Visser
2006-10-31 10:06:41
I used the upgrade manager as per the release notes and had no problems.
2006-11-16 04:49:00
I knew it! I had wondered about this when I had upgraded with no problems (using the update manager) and then heard loads of people complaining about the upgrade, but all of them had used apt-get. This is a significant problem that _does_ need to be addressed, although I think that, as a desktop-oriented distro, update-manager should be regarded as the default upgrade method (and you shouldn't need to run it from the command line, BTW)
David Goodwin
2006-11-16 04:53:03
I upgraded from Breezy to Edgy (well, someone has to do things slightly different). It wasn't totally pain free, and I did have to do a dpkg --force-all at one point, but it definately all works now, although apt seems a little confused over some packages not being needed.
2006-11-21 12:17:33
I'm using xubuntu, and saw on this page http://www.xubuntu.com/get that using the update manager can cause problems. So I followed it's recommendation of using apt-get. During the upgrade, my screen saver came on, and when I tried to enter my password, it no longer remembered it. I finally rebooted, and now X won't load. It still doesn't remember me, so I can't log in from the console. I think installing from scratch is definitely the best option. Other have evidently had the identical problem (See https://launchpad.net/distros/ubuntu/+source/update-manager/+bug/68027).
2007-02-12 06:21:06
It seems to me it all depends as to what you have installed. I used update-manager and am still trying to get my repositories clean. I am by no means a linux newbie, but I have been very impressed with Ubuntu as I can be a user and not a sysadmin. I am very disappointed because I have been really talking ubuntu up. And don't want to spend hours or days of unproductively fixing my repository issues after an upgrade.