Ubuntu Linux 7.10 “Gutsy Gibbon” Upgrade Report

A few weeks ago I updated to the latest version of Ubuntu Linux. This is the 7.10 (meaning October 2007) release, called “Gutsy Gibbon”. I encountered a couple of serious issues early on, but now that these are resolved things are running well. I’ll describe the issues and solutions so that anyone else encountering them can easily overcome them.

I used the instructions on the GutsyUpgrades page of the Ubuntu help wiki, under the heading “Network upgrade for Ubuntu servers (recommended)”. This is the command-line way of doing things, which is appropriate for administering a remote server via SSH. There are two steps: install the updater, and run the updater. That’s pretty slick.

Unfortunately as usual with Debian based releases there are many cases (a dozen or so) where the simple act of updating a package from an old version to a new version causes the installer to plead for human guidance. I find it irritating that if you change the default configuration at all, it cannot simply merge your changes into the new config file and continue. You have to do that manually. This is tedious, but not a really big issue.

In my case I had to manually merge apache2.conf, php.ini, and dovecot.conf because I had made a single line change in each file.

Upon reboot there were vast numbers of error messages, which I ultimately determined to have been caused by this issue. Removing evms solved the problem, and now there’s a special page about evms and why it’s no longer supported. Based on my reading of that page I suspect that there may be a new version of the Gutsy Gibbon updater that actually helps you by suggesting that you get rid of evms proactively to prevent this problem. Nice! Anyway my fix was simply to wait until the system had booted (slowly, with lots of error messages) and to carefully type in apt-get remove evms which I couldn’t even see as I typed because of the flood of error messages. Once that was done that problem went away completely.

I had a separate problem which was that the kernel has re-named the devices for my hard disks, which made a couple of my drives appear not to be recognized by the system. I use Linux Software RAID for a single mirrored volume, and for some reason it couldn’t use the volume UUID to figure out where the drives had gone. After recompiling a custom kernel using these excellent instructions to try and resolve this issue (which turned out to be a red herring), I found out that I was on the wrong track. (But I also found out that it only takes 56 minutes to compile a kernel on my server, which isn’t too bad.) I read dmesg extremely carefully and figured out what had happened. Some work with mdadm told the software RAID manager how to find the components of my RAID mirror and all was well with that. My understanding is that since /etc/fstab includes UUIDs now, drives moving around shouldn’t cause problems like this, so maybe this is a problem specific to the Software RAID system. Other drives moved but were located and mounted properly, with no need for manual intervention.

Finally, I had to update to VMWare Server 1.0.4, which is the first version that supports the kernel included with Gutsy Gibbon (2.6.22-14-server).

Now that all this is behind me I can say that for servers it’s a decent update; I have no experience with it as a desktop. If you have any doubts you can probably skip this one and wait for the next LTS release. But if you do plan to upgrade, just make sure to remove evms first and look in the /dev/sd_ range for any hard drives that seem to have disappeared.

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