Nightmare on Ubuntu street: Migrating from 11.04 to 11.10



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I’ve been a power Kubuntu user (I use it in my main system for everyday work) since 8.04. Every update to a newer version has had its fair share of minor issues and some not so minor, but all in all I haven’t hit a major roadblock (that I can remember), even when KDE switched from the 3.x to 4.x series. That is, until now. I’m really surprised about the number of major issues I’ve hit on this release, and a sad low point in the history of Ubuntu. After migrating with Muon, I rebooted and…

Boot takes a looooong time, no console or garbage in the console

Nvidia video cards don’t deal well with the vt.handoff parameter that Ubuntu adds by default to the kernel boot line in Grub. The upgrade process puts a /etc/grub.d/10_linux with this parameter, that you have to remove to get a useful console. Solution:

  • Select recovery mode in Grub, press e on that option, look for the line with vt.handoff=7 and remove it, then press CTRL-X.
  • Select root console
  • mount -o rw,remount /
  • Edit /etc/grub.d/10_linux, remove vt.handoff=7
  • update-grub
  • reboot
Now you can see the console, it still takes a looooong time, “Waiting for network connection”

It seems Ubuntu is now more serious about network interfaces and their availability/readiness. Too bad they didn’t bother asking the user if he wants this or issuing a big warning during the upgrade process. Anyway, if you have interfaces listed in /etc/network/interfaces that don’t exist in your system or that can’t get an IP quick enough, the system will keep you waiting without telling you what it’s really waiting for. Most solutions I’ve found online point to yet another random change in 11.10 where they moved /var/run to /run and /var/lock to /run/lock (I guess they felt like keeping things fresh by doing pointless changes, or maybe I’m just bitter because of the many hours I spent trying to figure out the problem). Solution:

  • Boot in recovery mode
  • mount -o rw,remount /
  • Edit /etc/network/interfaces, comment out all mentions to network interfaces that you don’t actually have or that are not connected
  • reboot
Nvidia propietary driver is no longer working, no X server

I have an Nvidia card configured with propietary drivers and so the X server depends on them. The upgrade process removed the Ubuntu X-Swat PPA, so the Nvidia driver didn’t update. As the upgrade process installs a new kernel, some conflict happens (the details of which I don’t care enough to find out, but be certain that it’s a problem), and you are left out the X environment with no warning of any kind. Solution:

  • Boot in recovery mode, go to root console.
  • mount -o rw,remount /
  • Edit /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ubuntu-x-swat (something).list, enable the repository again
  • apt-get update;apt-get –reinstall install nvidia-current
  • reboot
Now X starts, but KDE complains of dbus being not available, and ask you to run qdbus.
For some reason, the package qdbus is not installed in the upgrade process. Without it, guess what…KDE doesn’t start!
  • Boot in recovery mode, go to root console.
  • mount -o rw,remount /
  • apt-get install qdbus
At this point you are seriously considering installing Windows 95 and be done with it, but the problems don’t stop there…
No sound
My system has two sound cards, the motherboard embedded one by Realtek and the HDMI sound card by Nvidia. Using pavucontrol to set the correct default was required (this was working properly before the upgrade)
KMail 2 has a lot of issues and is slow
Well, at least Kubuntu has a nice page covering most of the problems you may hit
PostgreSQL 8.4 has 100% CPU usage, PostgreSQL 9 is installed in parallel, Akonadi uses 8.4 instead of 9
Once you get KMail 2 working, it seems the data backend Akonadi forces PostgreSQL 8.4 to go into crazy mode as it just jumps to 100% CPU usage and never lets go no matter what. To make things worse, the upgrade process has installed PostgreSQL 9 in your system, but didn’t migrate the data. If you do so manually (as I did to see if the migration solved the CPU usage problem), Akonadi will now complain that it doesn’t find the 8.4 server binary (which of course you had just removed…). Sigh.


  • Edit /etc/postgresql/main/postgresql.conf, make sure port=5432 (I guess the upgrade process had configured it on 5433 because 5432 was used by PostgreSQL 8.4)
  • Apply this solution otherwise PostgreSQL 9.1 probably won’t start automatically after boot (though it will if you do service postgresql start afterwards…for reasons unknown to me!)
  • sudo service postgresql restart
  • Edit ~/.config/akonadi/akonadiserverrc and set the correct path (usually involves changing 8.4 for 9.1 in the PGSQL paths)
At least the Postgres high CPU usage problem seems to happens less often, though it’s not completely solved…anyway, I think I’ll just use Gmail via the web interface until this issue is solved.
Skype doesn’t load
I had to follow the instructions here, to install 32 bit libraries that I thought I already had in place as it was working in Ubuntu Natty. This was not enough however, as some manual file deletion was needed as explained here.