Ubuntu 14.04 Upgrade

Doing The Upgrade

Time to upgrade the newest Ubuntu distribution. First: do a backup by saving an image of my system disk (with my least unfavourite game loader, windows 7, and my least unfavourite computer environment, ubuntu).

Then I did a fresh install of Ubuntu 14.04 beta2, because I had grown suspicious of my 12.04 installation, and it is usually a wash if you have more trouble having to re-configure a new install, or more trouble upgrading an old distribution to a new one and keeping all the old cruft.

Then grub could not boot my system anymore (“unknown file system”). I now suspect that the brand-spanking new grub was installed allright: to the wrong harddisk. In those cases, you put your SysRescueCD in, and select the option to boot an existing Linux installation. Then login etc. and then as root do


How does one know the right harddisk specifier? It helps if you know the maker, size, and what kind of partitions are on there. Assuming the rescue CD was able to boot your system, just use the disk utilty (“Disks” in Ubuntu 14.04, via the graphical interface). Under “blabla GB Harddisk”, you find the specifier, e.g. /dev/sda, /dev/sdc etc.

Had I known this, I would not have done what I did after the boot error: screaming obsceneties and installing Ubuntu 13.10, definitely-not-beta. Same problem. Which I fixed, but weeks later, when 14.04 was officially released, I had to do another upgrade. Again, grub was not able to perform the one task it was created to do. After booting with the rescue CD, I could not login to my account, because my encrypted home directory could not be mounted.

Let me go off on a tangent here. In the good old days 1, an unbootable computer meant that you had to go to a friend to search the net for answers (in the really olden times 2 3, an unbootable computer probably was broken, because why would it reject your boot floppy or any of its numerous backups? (in the prehistorically olden times, when you would enter the boot program via toggle switches on the face of the computer, there were no media to go bad). So, I really did appreciate the fact that even my crippled computer had full net access with a graphical user interface, firefox and everything.

I did not find anything pertaining to my exact problem, so I decided to create another administrator user, so I would be able to use the computer. After repairing grub and rebooting, the home directory problem simply went away. So far, it has not come back. My trust in these supposedly deterministic machines was NOT bolstered by these events.

Using It

The very first thing is to disable the ubuntu firefox extensions. Fuck you, Amazon app stealing my tabs! You can then use Amazon normally in the browser. I have not bothered hunting down the other Amazon stuff, because I do not use the unity search functions anyway.

Since Ubuntu’s or Gnome’s way is to make nothing configurable anymore, you will probably need these 2 configuration tools

   sudo apt-get install unity-tweak-tool
   sudo apt-get install gnome-tweak-tool

I also wanted synaptic back instead of the bloated Ubuntu Software Center.

Furthermore, the file browser nautilus becomes more useless with every upgrade. Install a last-known-tolerable fork of it if you need the old functionality:

   sudo apt-get install nemo

One thing I will be doing more in the future is to use suspend instead of leaving the computer running or switching it off and on and reenter lots of passwords and restart various firefox and remote sessions. I found it necessary to disable wake-up on USB for the computer to stay suspended:

   sudo bash
   # see what may wake from suspend
   cat /proc/acpi/wakeup 
   UAR1	  S3	*disabled  pnp:00:06
   USB0	  S3	*enabled   pci:0000:00:1d.0
   # toggle whatever is not in the state you want it
   echo  > /proc/acpi/wakeup USB0
   # check
   cat /proc/acpi/wakeup 
   UAR1	  S3	*disabled  pnp:00:06
   USB0	  S3	*disabled  pci:0000:00:1d.0

  1. which were horrible [return]
  2. i.e. when I was growing up [return]
  3. they, too, were horrible [return]