Ubuntu is incredibly easy: Upgrading and Ubuntu Studio

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“Incredibly easy process” we are told. You know when such wording are used that there is something hmmm.

And oh yes, I was just about to update my old Ubuntu LTS to a newer LTS (the 10.04 edition) on my work laptop that has now become stationary due to the Danish multimedia tax. Unfortunately when I got the computer it was partitioned in a way that it often recommended, but which I several times have found not so optimal: One partition for the system, one partition for the home directory, one partition for dual booting Microsoft Windows, one swap partition, and one partition that is just there at the beginning of the harddisk. Having just one big partition for the entire system (excluding the swap) I find the best since I invariable run into systems and home directories that grows. My system directory has no more than around 200MB left so it will be difficult to update directly. I still have many gigabytes left on the home directory, but with the present partitioning it is difficult to use. Instead I imaging installing a new system on the erased Windows partition.

I already had a USB stick. The USB stick is partitioned with a live distribution on one partition and a partition for data on another partition, ??? but unfortunately with an old Karmic (9.10) Ubuntu. So the idea was to download a new ISO image and put it on the USB disk: This is incredible easy!

So I went like this:

  1. I look for “Create a USB startup disk” in the KDE menu. Can’t find it, and wonder if it only shows up in Gnome.
  2. Log into Gnome and see that it is neither there.
  3. Search the internet to find which program and package is behind “Create a USB startup disk”: It is called “usb-creator”.
  4. Seeing that it is not there with “aptitude search usb-creator”
  5. Looking at the Ubuntu package site for usb-creator. Apparently in “hardy-backports”. So does that mean that the Ubuntu version I have is too old to have that program?
  6. Attempted something like sudo mount -o loop ubuntu-10.04-desktop-i386.iso …
  7. Giving up, and finding another computer which already have a recent version of Ubuntu.
  8. usb-creator-gtk reports that there is not enough space on the USB disk.
  9. Starts to erase.
  10. Discovering that the usb-creator-gtk creator erased not only the partition with the old Ubuntu installation, but also the partition with my data files. Wow, what a blunder!
  11. Booting with the USB stick on the laptop computer at 17:20.
  12. Not entirely sure which partition to select. I select the choice with “Brug det st??rste sammenh??ngende ledige omr??de p?? disken” (use the largest continuous free space on the disk).
  13. Starting installation of Ubuntu 10.04 at 17:30.
  14. 17:43: Booting from computer (that was quick). Wrong display resolution. My old home directory is not mounted.
  15. Fixing the home directory. Getting error message related to .Xmodmap and “Could not update ICEauthority”. Problem with my user id.
  16. 18:43: Installed Emacs and Latex. Installed “brightside” for edge flipping but it does not help. Find out that it is actually compiz that may take care of that so “sudo aptitude install compizconfig-settings-manager”. After that the “System” menu has a “CompizConfig Settings Manager” item and this manager has a “Desktop wall” item where the edge flipping is set.
  17. My user name did not show up in the Gnome login screen. Fixed user id problem with the use of magic in /etc/login.defs: Set the UID_MIN to a lower value corresponding to the user id.

So the update was reasonable, but I don’t find it incredible easy. I have my problems with installation of Ubuntu on another laptop. This time it went a bit smoother. There are still minor annoying problems that can take ridiculous time, e.g., the problem of “burning” a USB stick, determining how to set the edge flip.

The installation on my other laptop, an Acer Aspire One N450, still has issues: Plugging in an external screens might blacken both screens, wireless is shaky – it sometimes falls of the connection and Eduroam is particularly a hassle, Skype has a funny the-balance-needs-to-be-on-the-left-for-the-microphone-to-work bug, closing the lid for sleeping does not necessarily mean that it wakes up nicely again.

And did I mention Ubuntu Studio? I am trying to get music production working on the small netbook and that requires considerable effort. I am lost somewhere between real-time kernels, alsa, jack, pulseaudio and the all the rest. Here and there I can get things to work.

I like the ZynAddSubFX and the thick sounds you can get from it, but that software synthesizer program seems not a go well together with Jack. I have managed to construct a bit with the nice looping program SooperLooper. On my present Myspace account “SG3” is with SooperLooper and “Forsigtig” with ZynAddSubFx. SooperLooper works with Jack and I believe I used effects from Jack Rack for the SG3 piece.

I would also like to get started with multitracking audio and midi. There are several programs for that in the Ubuntu distribution, and perhaps I will some day get used to them. Today I have run into a funny Ubuntu Ardour mute problem, and Ardour-just-lost-the-connection-in-the-jack-control problem, and why-is-there-no-input-from-the-microphone problem with magic necessary in the alsamixer.

My tinwhistle does not suffer from these problems.

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