Sunday, August 21, 2011

From Warty to Oneiric: Installing Ubuntu 4.10 "Warty Warthog"

Seven years is a long time. Ubuntu has come so far since it's first version release back in October 2004. Now that we've so many EOL'd releases, is it still possible to install Warty Warthog and upgrade, one version at a time, all the way to the present release?

Let's find out.

The testbed

Ideally, I should be doing this experiment on real hardware. But seeing as how it's easier to document by running in a virtual machine and I'd like to minimise my own down time, I'll be using VirtualBox throughout this little experiment. Being able to snapshot the VM also helps if anything goes wrong. I can just roll back to the latest successful upgrade point.

Here's the essential specifications of the Ubuntu VM:

  • Dual core 2.6GHz AMD Athlon X4 620
  • 20GB P-ATA hard disk
  • 512MB RAM
  • Ubuntu 32-bit version

Everything else was left at default. My processor is a quad core of which I'll be assigning 2 cores for this experiment. Also, a driver in the ATA drivers back then caused earlier versions of Ubuntu to not detect the CD-ROM drive during the hardware detection phase so I'll be setting the S-ATA hard disk to a P-ATA hard disk to work around that.

Back then 64-bit builds weren't recommended unless you're an expert. Even now the 32-bit build is the default download option on Ubuntu's website although the 64-bit version is rather reliable. So, I'll run the experiment with the 32-bit builds.

Installing Warty

The Warty install CD boot splash
It's been ages since I last saw Warty. Back then we had separate install and LiveCD ISOs. We still have the old install CDs now (they're the alternate CDs) but the LiveCD we have now are able to install Ubuntu, unlike in those days.

Partition creation
Ubuntu used the same text-based installer Debian uses. It looks almost like the pre-Vista installation process.

First part of installation done
And just like Windows, it installs in two steps. The main difference is Windows Setup phase 2 is graphical but Ubuntu's is still text-based. It's nothing to hard to deal with though.

Choosing you timezone
The 2nd part of installation just walks you through basic system setup and user account creation. Most of it is automated so just sit back and relax. I basically went for the preselected defaults except for Internet updates. Since Warty is no longer supported, updates are no longer available. Everything else (eg., video driver, resolution, etc) was left at default. The main thing to "worry" about would be the timezone and user account info.

Installation complete
The installation easily completes in less than half an hour. Everything went nice and smooth with no problems. The only thing to keep in mind is that libata at the time had a bug that prevented a mix of P-ATA & S-ATA devices in the system. That's why I changed the hard disk from the default S-ATA setting to P-ATA.

Firefox 0.9.3 and the Ubuntu login side-by-side shot
Next up: Upgrading Warty to Hoary.