Saturday, 20 October 2012

Problems upgrading Xubuntu to 12.10

Problems upgrading Xubuntu to 12.10

I have a laptop which has been running Xubuntu 12.04 for some time.  Yesterday I decided to see what Xubuntu 12.10 brought to the table so I upgraded....and my problems started.

The start of the process was encouraging: it pulled the files down much faster than previous ubuntu family upgrades I have done in the past: despite the fact that it was only a day or so after the 12.10 version was released.

Towards the end of the process (just before reboot) the system asked me if I wanted to remove "obsolete files" : foolishly I said "yes".

This, it turns out,  was a big mistake.  The files that were deemed "obsolete" were the plugins and settings manager for my Avant Window Navigator.   I had set this up to replace the XFCE panel which comes as standard with Xubuntu since I could customize AWN more than you can the standard panel.  The upshot was that when the machine booted I had an empty panel running along the bottom of the screen and had no way to launch programs via the menu.

Since I have been running the file launcher "synapse" I could still launch programs that way so I fired up my browser and did some googling.  It turns out that there are no files to upgrade AWN in the standard ubuntu repositories and I could not find any PPAs that contained AWN files either.  The upgrade process disables any PPAs that are not marked for the release you are upgrading to (in my case,  Quantal) and I did not want to use a PPA for the previous release so I decided to leave AWN alone for the time being and re enable the standard XFCE panel along the bottom of the screen instead.  This I did from the settings dialog for XFCE (which has been upgraded in quantal to include all the settings,  very nice) and I could bring up a panel: but for some reason it started in "kiosk" mode and warned me I could not edit any settings.  I saved the session information so that this would re appear on reboot: which it did : also with the same warning: and a number of annoying pop-ups warning me that that "no running version of the panel is running" which had to be closed one by one.  I could not find a way to clear these: and with every subsequent reboot an extra warning was generated: so it took quite a long time to clear them after a while.

Some subsequent research suggests that if I cleared down all the information in the sessions area: this may have cleared this issue for good: but I was a bit worried about this and did not go down this route.

Instead I abandoned XFCE for the time being: and installed LXDE instead: which I must say I rather like.  It has a lighter footprint than XFCE: although slightly less polish.  I'm running that using the Compiz window decorator rather than the standard one that comes with LXDE (openbox) which certainly makes it a deal prettier.

I set nautilus as the default file manager instead of PCManFM: however this has created an issue for the backgrounds: which now don't show up.  I presume this is because PCManFM needs to be "in control" of the desktop: so I shall probably set this back.  Actually: upon further inspection,  PCManFM looks like a pretty nice file browser anyway.  At some stage I've been planning to ditch nautilus (which seems to be going in the wrong direction with the newer version: which ditches the dual pane functionality which we all like) : probably in favour of the nemo file manager from Linux Mint which I have been playing with for a short while.  I also rather like the Elementary file manager: this one looks the slickest of the lot: but these 2 latter options are rather early in development to rely upon at this stage.

There was an additional issue which arose from the upgrade to quantal: by default you are now using the 3.5.x version of the kernel: replacing the 3.2.x branch.  Upon my first boot I was greeted with a totally blank screen: not what you want to see at all!

It turns out that the 3.5 kernel has issues with the i915 intel video chipset in my lappy: so I had to muck around setting up my laptop to boot from the pervious kernel by default.  I used grub customizer to do this: for some reason this program did not pick up on the text inside my grub config: so although I could change things: I could not see what I was changing: not what you want when you are playing around with grub.  However,  I did find an option to use the same boot as you used last time by default: and this solved my issue.

So you need to be careful with those ubuntu upgrades.


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