Boston Linux & UNIX was originally founded in 1994 as part of The Boston Computer Society. We meet on the third Wednesday of each month at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Building E51.

BLU Discuss list archive

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[Discuss] Ubuntu 12.04 install fail

It isn't often that I get to install desktop Linux, and the installers
have gotten better, but they've also raised expectations, which make
their failings more noticeable. So while the problems I detail below are
really not that big of a deal for me, they highlight how the installers
still have a way to go for novice users.

I have a laptop with ancient Ubuntu 9.10 and decided I'd try installing
12.04 to a new disk, then copy over the home directory, keeping the 9.10
installation as a fallback. (While an in-place upgrade might still be
possible, it would require several upgrade steps (I believe to 10.04
LTS, then to 12.04 LTS) and there's a good chance along the way
something intermediary might be missing from the repositories.)

The first step was to move the 9.10 disk to the second drive bay and put
the new disk into the first bay so it shows up as /dev/sda. Then boot
the CD. I used a Canonical produced CD obtained at a user group meeting.

After just a few typical questions about language and keyboard, I was at
 a screen to choose whether to use a network connection and install
updates from the online repositories during the install. Strangely there
was no option here to set up a wireless connection. That didn't appear
until a few screens later, and then I was never asked again whether I
wanted to have updates installed. (Empirically I determined they didn't
get installed, as there were a ton of updates available after first login.)

Next was the disk selection and partitioning screen. It correctly
identified that there was an existing 9.10 installation of Ubuntu. It
gave me the choice to wipe it, or repartition the disk to install 12.04
along side 9.10.

I don't believe there was any option to upgrade the 9.10 installation,
but knowing that would require a multi-stage process, initially
requiring a bunch of files not on the CD, I wasn't surprised. Though it
still should have offered to do a network upgrade.

I was, however, surprised to see the installer ignore the blank /dev/sda
as a possible install target. I was only able to select it by going to
the advance option, manually partitioning the disk, and then returning
to the disk selection screen.

Would it have behaved differently had the unpartitioned disk been the
only disk in the system? Given that this would be a common use case with
a newly built system, I sure hope so.

Having to manually partition is easy enough, but also an unnecessary
complication for a novice user. I'm assuming that under more typical
circumstances the installer would offer up a recommended partitioning

Aside for the issues noted above, the installed did seem to pair down
the number of questions to an absolute minimum.

At this point the installer chugged away for quite a while. The
installer provided a half dozen screens of feature promos to keep the
user busy, but those only take a few minutes to read through.

I came back a while later, rebooted, and noticed the first graphical
screen to appear was distorted, and then disappeared to be replaced by a
message telling me Ubuntu couldn't detect my video hardware and was
using a low graphics mode, and then dumped me at a console prompt.
(Shouldn't low graphics mode still brought me into X?)

I was a bit puzzled with this, as the Nvidia GeForce 9600M graphics
hardware is not that unusual, and had been working with 9.10 and earlier
versions. (The Ubuntu 11.10 live CD not only detected the video hardware
fine, Unity also handled the dual monitor setup, though with some
limitations.) I ran a system update from the shell, and rebooted to
resolve that. Easy, but this would have again tripped up a novice.

On the next boot up I logged in to the Unity shell with no
problem...except the 2nd monitor was not detected, and selecting the
option to detect monitors didn't change that.

A notification appeared telling me my hardware could use a proprietary
video driver and brought me to the video driver selection screen, which
could have been clearer and offered more information to distinguish
among the available choices. It actually showed that it was already
using one of the proprietary Nvidia drivers. Below it there was a "post
release updates" variation, another version newer (marked recommended),
and then a "post release updates" variation of that. If the 3rd choice
down was recommended, then why didn't the system pick that for me on
initial setup?

I chose the 4th and newest option. On the next reboot/login the 2nd
monitor now worked, while the primary monitor was blank. Not the
expected result. I didn't bother to check the settings screen to see if
both monitors could now be turned on, as other issues with the
installation cropped up...

(With 9.10 the Nvidia driver has its own monitor setup app. Trying to
run the Gnome app results in a warning message. If you run it anyway it
won't detect a dual monitor setup. Does 12.04 also have an
Nvidia-specific setup app, but Unity dropped the warning message?)

Around this time I noticed the sound was broken. This hardware had
problems with sound support in Ubuntu 9.04, requiring a custom rebuild
of the ALSA driver. But by 9.10 the distribution version incorporated
the necessary fixes, so I wasn't expecting to see audio problems again.

I also noticed that playing back an MPEG4 (H.264) video showed inverted
colors. Codec problem, or still video driver issues?

Next, wanting the freshest Chrome directly from Google, I went to
install a manually downloaded package for it. dpkg dutifully informed me
that I couldn't install a 64-bit package onto a 32-bit system. Doh!

Normally I download the ISO for a fresh Ubuntu install, and I select the
desired architecture. This time I was starting with a Canonical produced
CD and never gave it any thought. Obviously it makes sense that they'd
make these with the more universal 32-bit architecture.

What's disappointing is that the installer doesn't detect the hardware
before the installation starts, and if it is a 32-bit installer running
on 64-bit capable hardware it should warn the user. Provide some info on
the advantage of using a 64-bit OS (so the user an decide if it is
something they don't care about), and direct them to the Canonical site
to download the 64-bit CD (or do some sort of a bootstrapped network

Yeah I get such a choice might be an unnecessary complication for a
novice user, but given the near impossibility to correct a mistaken
choice later, it seems justified. (A search confirmed that to go from 32
to 64-bits your best bet is to just start over with a new install.)

Back to to download the correct ISO. I came back a while
later to burn a CD and discover I again had the 32-bit ISO based on the
"i386" in the file name. I repeat the download steps and this time
notice it is giving me the wrong file, even though I definitely selected
the 64-bit option. It turns out the new download form, recently modified
to prompt users to give a donation to Ubuntu, has a bug and ignores your
architecture choice. (This may be a bug that only happens when
JavaScript is disabled, but that's no excuse.)

Fortunately there are other download links on Even better,
torrents. I'll try again with 64-bit 12.04.1...


Tom Metro
Venture Logic, Newton, MA, USA
"Enterprise solutions through open source."
Professional Profile:

BLU is a member of BostonUserGroups
BLU is a member of BostonUserGroups
We also thank MIT for the use of their facilities.

Valid HTML 4.01! Valid CSS!

Boston Linux & Unix /