Monday, September 05, 2011

Upgrading to the development Ubuntu release, Oneiric Ocelot

Upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04 was nice and smooth. That's pretty normal for the current release. Upgrading to the development release is a whole different story altogether. Since this is a development release, I'll be using the daily install image for this experiment. The obvious caveat is, of course, the results may be completely different from day to day. Things may or may not work depending on the particular daily image used.

For this experiment, I'll be using the daily install CD dated 28th Aug 2011. That's the latest daily when I downloaded it.

Ubuntu detects the Ubuntu 11.10 CD nicely
As usual, I start with trying out the upgrade option when Ubuntu detects the install CD and offers the upgrade. Unfortunately, the upgrade doesn't proceed. Something's broken but that's expected from a daily development image.

Distribution upgrade didn't go well
Even Synaptic and apt-get doesn't work. Somehow they fail to access the CD contents despite detecting the CD. Manually starting up Update Manager after adding the install CD gets you a partial upgrade. That's never a good thing in the best of times. For a development release, it's best avoided like the plague.

That basically leaves just a few options:

  • Clean install
  • Online upgrade
  • Upgrade from LiveCD

Clean installing Ubuntu isn't the point of this experiment so that's obviously out. An online upgrade may or may not work depending on the current status of Oneiric. Since I'm trying to upgrade offline as much as possible, I'll take the third option.

Upgrading from the Ubuntu LiveCD is a feature that first appeared in Ubuntu 11.04. At least, I didn't notice it until then. Once Oneiric is released this October, I'm thinking of possibly upgrading using that route. But that's for later.

Right now, I'll be testing out this upgrade option in VirtualBox.

Upgrading to Ubuntu 11.10 using the LiveCD

Choosing installation type in Ubiquity
Upgrading from the LiveCD using Ubiquity proceeds almost exactly like doing a fresh installation of Ubuntu. There's just one difference: you choose the upgrade option when presented with install options. This basically skips the partitioning step, tells Ubiquity you want to wipe out the existing Ubuntu installation while retaining user files. Ubiquity will also generate a list of installed packages and try to reinstall additional software you may have installed in your old installation where possible.

Recreating a user account?
The installation process really does look nearly identical to a fresh install. You get to choose the timezone, setup the keyboard, and fill in user account info all over again. They should add a skip option here. The whole point of upgrading is to retain existing accounts, isn't it? Maybe they could move the next step up before user account creation.

An empty list; is it because there's nothing to migrate, or is it a Ubiquity bug?
After setting up your user account, you need to choose what gets migrated to the upgraded installation. I find it strange that this isn't done before new user account setup. If old accounts are migrated there should be no requirement to create another new account, is there?

Ubiquity slideshow; enjoy the presentation while upgrade proceeds
That's all Ubiquity needs to complete the process. The rest is just waiting for the upgrade to complete. It's quite a long wait. You'll need an Internet connection though for when Ubiquity reinstalls any additional packages from your old setup. An error pops up if there isn't one, but installation completes with a warning.

The current desktop for Oneiric
With that, this experiment is finished. It is indeed possible to install Warty and upgrade all the way to Oneiric. Unfortunately, bugs appear here and there that could easily derail the entire process. For an experiment running in a virtual machine that's fine, but on actual hardware it's just not really practical at all.