Posts Tagged ‘Ubuntu/Unity’

Upgrading my wife’s computer

March 8, 2019

We are not a cutting-edge family. Yes, we have more computers-per-room than most, and yes, we install patches as they arrive, but we don’t buy new ones very often, and we tend to hang on to one version of an OS until forced to upgrade. For example, we bought a new System76 Sable all-in-one for my wife four years ago, and we ran Ubuntu 14.04 on it until last weekend. And thereby hangs a tale.

It was getting to the point that the PC was acting funny, and it was having trouble talking to the printer — all the pages came out blue, so maybe it was sad — and I decided to bite the bullet and install an upgrade while she was away on a four day AKC judging trip.

So first, I backed stuff up, just to be sure. I backed up the /home directory, and then I backed up the /usr directory. This took all day. Why? Not sure. My LAN would start out transferring data at 12MB/s, then slowly slow to a slow 300KB/s. I thought it might be fighting with the TV or one of the other PC’s for packets, but unplugging stuff didn’t help. I finally got everything transferred to our NAS drive and decided I’d look into the speed problem later.

The next day, just for suspenders and belt safety, I followed the instructions for backing up Firefox, Thunderbird, and Opera (yes, she still uses Opera). Time to upgrade!

Not so fast, Babbage. The original install is old enough that the Software Updater doesn’t show an <Upgrade> button any more. It just gives a message box saying that updates for 14.04 ended two years ago. I tried various paths (System Settings, Toolbar/Software, …) but they all ended with the same less than helpful message. It did have an <OK> button, but didn’t have one that said <Not OK>. To the Interwebs!

It seems I have to go to Software & Updates and change my Updates settings to have it check and install new updates immediately. Didn’t work. Also, while fiddling around with it, I managed to put 18.04 on the Ignore list. To the Terminal!

When all else fails, you can always type the commands directly into a terminal window. The trick is to find out what to type. A half hour or so of wandering through the various forums gave a command that looked like it might be what I wanted. Sure enough, it opened up the repository and downloaded the update. Another half hour of watching the terminal scroll all the thousands of files that are part of Linux, it was done. I rebooted, and found I had myself a new, clean, fully updated Ubuntu 14.04. WTFO?

OK. Stay calm. Steady, the Buffs. Let’s try the Software Updater again.

As my brother would say, Yreka! It has an <Upgrade> button! I click, and away it goes. Another half hour of watching install messages scroll up faster than I can read, a simple reboot (typing in her password for the 800th time), and now it’s really done.

As an added bonus, nothing got overwrit. I don’t have to backfill on her various browser accounts. All her other software seems to be in place as well, although the Mahjong game she plays seems to have different rules and interface.

One noticeable difference between hers and mine is that her version of 18.04 is running Ubuntu/Gnome 3 while my three year old Wild Dog with Ubuntu 18.04 on it still has Unity. I presume that has something to do with the update cycle, and I must say I think that Unity works more like I think.

All’s well that ends well. Now I just have to think of a way to get myself a new PC.