As I have already written in past postings, I was able (after some work) to get an old Pentium 3 box running with the latest 6.06 LTS dapper drake. I was also able to install the drake on a brand new P4 box which I was planning on writing about this weekend. I mean this box kicks. I can even run some very important (for my line of work) windows and dos applications even better than running in win xp.
The troubles began this past thursday, when I decided to upgrade and amd64 unit from breezy to dapper. Initially the box (amd64 at 3GHz, 1GB of RAM, 1X200 GB IDE and 1X200 SATA) was setup as ubuntu plain. Later it was converted to kubuntu with the addition of the kubuntu-desktop package. Of course, the easier way to work would have been to “update -> upgrade -> dist-upgrade”. Which I did…
And all hell broke loose. Apart from loosing applications, the ati drivers were nowhere to be found and the vesa ones was buggy, at best. Re-installing the alternate CD did not help. So, choose “curtain no. 3″ and, what do we have here Johnny? A regular backup, and install of 6.06 from scratch” !!!!
What did we get? Bupkis. The install got stuck at the nice screen which read in deep blue letters kubuntu. Since there were no drivers for the graphics card, I could not get it to work at all. And when I mean at all, I mean no 64bit, no 32bit version, nothing, zippo, rien. After having lost all of my Thursday evening, Friday morning, afternoon with this, some time around 10pm last night, I had an epiphany: Go back to the trusted 5.10 which was working fine and let this poor beast rest. So did I.
The install went fine, and I have a working environment in breezy 5.10. Now, the little devil in me (you know the one who puts all these weird thoughts and makes you do things you later regret) suggested to repeat the process (update -> upgrade -> dist-upgrade). Of course, I should have known better. This saturday morning I had arrived at exactly where I was two days ago. A non-working machine. So, I thought “ok, piece of cake, I know what I have to do now”. Re-install 5.10 and stay with it.
Alas!!! The powers that be had decided that grub would not install with 5.10. I mean, I must have tried it about 10 times and could not make it work. So, new improvisations. Install from alternate CD for 6.06, keep the boot as is, and then (when 6.06 refuses to work) go back to 5.10. Which of course worked fine, after I dont know how many hours and installs and countless frustrations.
I don’t know if it was something in the hardware (the mobo, the processor, the graphics card). I don’t care if it has been documented in countless threads in various ubuntu fora. I am concerned that if someone who knows his way around a pc has to spend so much effort and time in order to install something labeled LTS (Long Term Support), what about the hapless kid who just wants to try this brand new linux thing? This ubuntu which is by far one of the best and coolest distros I have tried. Mind you, it works like a charm on my P4 box, and I mean it. But ubuntu and my amd64 box have been on rocky terms since I got the box almost a year ago!!!
Final thoughts: I will stick with ubuntu breezy on amd64 and wait for the 6.10 release. I hope that I won’t have the nightmarish weekend I have as I write this.