Updating from Ubuntu LTS 16.04 to 18.04

Posted by hkwint on May 3, 2018 12:00 AM
LXer.com; By Hans Kwint

LXer Feature: 03-May-2018

Maybe you run old and trusted Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, and wonder if it's easy to release a Bionic Beaver (18.04) in your PC. So did I! I could wait for the early spring-bugs to be squashed (do beavers eat bugs?), so wait for the point release 18.04.1. But I decided to act like a daring drake, and give the process a try anyway. Now, this could either go horribly wrong, like some Linux-updates I had in the past, it could be a breeze (badger?), or anything in between: Time to share my experience!

Starting point

My desktop is a bit like a true museum collection of the last decade. It contains parts from most years between 2006 (Case, PSU) and 2016 (SDD). It was running Unity, but because of the 'antique' AMD power efficient but slow CPU (4850e), Unity became more and more like a slow snake, until the desktop became unusable. To fix it, I released the meandering mouse, that is I installed and customized XFCE. Because Ubuntu's defaul environment didn't work anymore, I decided to update to 18.04 LTS as quick as I could. What I was hoping for, was a better default environment than Unity; and to try if the gnarly Gnome would suit me.


First, I wanted to cleanup a little. So to start, I did an 'apt-update;dist-upgrade'. It felt pretty useless, but somewhere on the internet I read this advice. After that, I decided to pre-emptively cut out some file-rot before doing a backup. '$ find ~ -size +10M -type f' indeed found some big and forgotten files which were over the date. Also, I found out there was some 'Zeitgeist'-stuff left on my PC, which I immediately removed for privacy reasons.

Because there's only two kind of people, those who make backups and those who will, I mounted a second harddrive, and used '$rsync -Ap from-dir to-dir' to backup my home directory. After that, I unmounted the second harddrive. If you're paranoid, that would be a good time to unscrew the harddrive and carry it at least one hundred anaconda-distances away.

Ready, set... Go!

To actually update, first, I configured Ubuntu only to update to 'LTS-releases'. The next thing to do, was run '$ update-manager -d', which told me to reboot? No idea why, but I decided not to be a stubborn salamander and do it anyway. Second time I ran the command, it told me within a minute, I can update to Bionic, that sounded like great news! Well, if you like dams more than trees - it does.

Next, it presented me with a list of packages to remove, and if I was OK with it? Well, I trust the Beaver knows what it's doing with my PC, so yes, you can! What I didn't think about, but I'm glad Beaver did, was tell me about a 'no candidate' list. These are packages which are on your old system, but may not be available for the new one. There was nothing to worrysome in this list, in short, go with the flow! What I liked, was that it warned be that my manually added PPA's would be disabled, and also how to turn it back on after the update. Do take note here if you have 'special' software that lives in a foreign PPA!

'Nocandidate'- list

What I expected, was an 'unattended' update, which means, walk away, watch stupid TV shows for three hours, return and the beaver on the new background waiting for me. Well, it didn't quite work out that way. First, I was reminded of a seemingly stupid mistake I made in 2016, namely, how I wanted to configure Postfix? Well, I don't even _use_ it let alone that I know how I want it configured. But luckily there was the option of 'none' for the configuration! OK, done with that one, what would be next? I tried to maximize to the terminal to see what's going on, but this option was grayed out. No idea why?

A few minutes later, I was able to maximize the terminal (?), which was great, because now I could exactly follow what was going on. Now, I'm like the weird kinda guy who could stare at 'Gentoo emerge gcc-output' or 'Windows 98 Defragmantetion rectangles' for hours, so watching the terminal telling me about the hundreds of Megabytes being downloaded and the dozens of packages to be updated or removed felt like a great 'throw back' in time, although it doesn't compile anything of course.

Twice it asked me about a file in /etc and how I wanted it to be updated. Hmm, never having seen 'etc-update' in Ubuntu before, a bit stupid, only by now I thought 'Maybe also should have updated /etc/*...'. Well, too late, and not really necessary: Only two seemingly unimportant files it questioned me about. Needless to say, went with the default suggestion.

etc-update for Ubuntu!

Also, it asked me to turn of my 'xscreensaver'. Of course I was OK with this, and I thought it was an automated process, so I clicked OK and it asked me again. And again. Turns out, you have to do this manually yourself. 'OK, no problem' I though, hammering in 'ps ax; kill -9 1264' (or such a number). And then removing '-9'because, if you're like me, you alwas type 'rm -rf' without questioning if you really need '-rf', but it's just habit, the in-finger-memory is trained that rm always goes with rf, right?

Kill xscreensaver

After that, it was pretty easy sailing, the only thing I noticed was it took a long time to delete all old unused kernels. This process in Ubuntu is quite inefficient: It deletes 1 out of 6 kernels, than configures the other 5, removes the next, configures the other 4, removes the next, configures again... But after that and cleaning up some more stuff, after maybe two hours from which from time to time it needed my attention, it was all the suddenly done.

First boot attempt

Reboot, and... Oh no, it hangs!

Gave up waiting for resume device

It shows me the usual notice about 'Spectre retpoline' and my usual 'ATA' messages, probably because the old unused HDD which I was too lazy to remove. But it didn't seem to boot... Until after 50 seconds, luckily this was just a timeout. Have to admit by now, I have been the stubborn salamander back in time, refusing to use swap. Now it complains about not being able to find a 'resume partition' or something. I always shut down completely anyway, so no problem here, and I'm greeted with... XFCE! The whole thing looks exactly the same, just as I left it before the update. Wow, did I just wait two years for exactly _no visible_ changes whatsoever? Well, turned out, I can swich session. 'Ubuntu Default (Wayland)' doesn't work, a short blackout and back to the 'desktop session manager', which looks like 'lightdm' but I guess it isn't. Luckily enough, 'Default' does work, Gnome starts, and it's not responsive at all on this hardware, but it does work! First time it takes over 10 seconds, Gnome needs to make lots of files it seems. Later, if I click on something it takes about half a second to react, slower than Windows 7 or XFCE. But this being Linux I can always choose between XFCE and Gnome when I want, or install other environments. '$ lsb_release -a' indeed shows I'm on 18.04 now, funny enough Gnome uses my Unity background which I haven't seen in over a year!

$ lsb_release -a

Final words

Probably there's some stuff left to configure, for example my dock doesn't auto show if I hover over it, but that's for another day. For now, this big update was pretty painless though not entirely 'unattended'. Although slight unresponsive on this 'old beast left of my knees', Gnome looks really modern, almost more like Android than Windows at this point I guess, and my 'Start' button *) also works, it arranges all my apps; a neat effect. An update gone according to plan, what more to wish for?

*) TypeMatrix 2020, I don't have a Windows button, yay!

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