The Spirit of Open Software: Ubuntu Breezy

Well, recovering from minor surgery, and pushed by accumulating bugs on my obsolete Ubuntu 5.04 Linux, I finally decided to upgrade to 5.10 Breezy on my AMD64 machine.

Yes, this was in many ways a crazy thing to do, but you probably know me by now...

So, after downloading for an hour, I began the long apt-get dist-upgrade. Here are the issues I encountered and the responses I brought.
  1. ialibs could not install: to get by this, first remove xorg-driver-fglrx, then install ialibs, then re-install xorg-driver-fglrx.
  2. X would not start: as one might expect the fglrx driver needed massive re-configuring, in particular I had to first start with a vanilla /etc/X11/xorg.conf, then explore loads of proposed solutions. Of course it is not absolutely necessary to use the fglrx drivers for the ATI graphics cards, but if you don't use them you don't get 3D graphics acceleration - it's as simple as that. To debug X problems, it is very important to check the start-up log for X's error messages at /var/log/Xorg.0.log. All in all this problem was much harder to fix than expected mainly due to my own lack of knowledge, but finally this link provided the solution. Thanks to Ubuntu forums!
  3. Skype kept locking up the microphone: This problem would appear to be caused by skype's use of the obsolete OSS sound system. I finally managed to get a workaround on a 32bit chroot by following this advice and also this site. If you want to know about dchroot, check here. Indeed, many 64bit issues can be worked around by use of a 32bit dchroot environment to simulate 32bit while still running the 64bit kernel (this is particularly useful to get access to flash and macromedia players under firefox - those proprietary for money only tools :-( aren't available in 64bit compatible form).
If anyone out there wants to try this upgrade, I suggest using the command line version, i.e. apt-get, rather than synaptic since this allows better handling of errors. Considering the size of the upgrade, I'd say it went pretty well - but I doubt that most people would be willing to put in that much effort every 6 months just to keep up with Linux releases - which don't bring much visibly improved functionality and can even make some things slower or impossible!

In any event, the Ubuntu team (bug reporting and followup), wiki and forums are constantly available to provide information, and support. Those people are really helpful!

They really follow the Ubuntu spirit: "Humanity to others: I am what I am because of who we all are." This is really what I feel separates the open software world from those other people who are just out there for themselves.

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