Can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve posted. I’ve been very busy on my induction heater project  plus I’ve had the mother of all writer’s block. Plus, Ubuntu has simply worked so I haven’t had much to write about. Anyway….
I’m approaching my one year anniversary of my conversion to Linux after (mostly) giving Windows the boot. I thought that it would be a good time to upgrade and post about it.
I had stayed with Ubuntu 8.09.1 Long Term Support because I thought that it would be more reliable than the non-LTS releases. That was a mistake for two reasons. One, Ubuntu is reliable, period. Two, I didn’t realize that when I did upgrade, I’d have to go through all the intermediate steps in the process. Another reason to upgrade is that a given release generally does not upgrade packages. Thus I was stuck with Firefox 3.0 even in the face of the much superior 3.5 release.
So, a couple of days ago I went here  and downloaded the ISO of release 9.10 and burned a CD. After doing an image backup (see previous posts on how to use partimage to do that), thank God, I started an install. I figured that it would detect the old version and do an upgrade. Wrongo! It installed right over my old version.
After restoring from my backup, I actually read some instructions. It turns out that I had to do an upgrade and not an install. To do so, go into the system->admin->Software Sources, click the “Updates” tab and select “Normal Releases” at the bottom of the window. Then when I run Upgrade Manager, it presents me with the option to upgrade to the next release. Like I said, each release has to be upgraded to the next, one step at a time.
I downloaded the older release ISOs and mounted them, thinking that it would speed up the upgrade process. I don’t think that it did. If you have a decent internet connection (my HughsNet at 1.4mbps is barely decent), the network upgrade is the way to go.
Fire off system->Administration->Update Manager and click on the “new release” icon at the top of the screen. Get a good book, sit in front of the computer and kill about 4 hours. This brings up my only real beef with the upgrade process. All through the process it asks questions, some of them definite guru questions, so that you can’t just go off and let the upgrade run overnight or something. It seems like the upgrade could be arranged so that it asks all the questions at the first or at the end of the upgrade. Speaking as a complete upgrade novice, of course.
So I upgraded to the next release, rebooted into the LiveCD and did a partition backup of the new root drive. Then reboot into the system, fire off Update Manager and repeat the whole process for the next release. Mainly because I have to wait until my Hughsnet download quota is suspended (2-7AM every night), it took me the better part of 3 days to get the updates done. I will NOT fall behind again.
So how did the upgrades themselves go? Almost completely painlessly. The only tiny little snag was that the last upgrade to 9.10 trashed a few of my desktop icons. BFD! In the microserf world, try upgrading from say, Win98 to System 7 and see what happens. You’ll spend the next week (or more) working out incompatibilities and fetching new software (having to pay for a lot of it) because the old stuff will no longer work. One of the reasons that I held back for so long on the upgrades was my experiences with microserf’s crap. I should have known better, that the Linux/Ubuntu process would be flawless.
One Year and Counting
My Linux experience has been wonderful. It took awhile to get used to the Linux Way but after that, I’ve been right at home. I can do almost everything that I could using winders. For those few instances where a Winders package simply can’t be replaced, there’s Sun Microsystem’s Virtual box . VirtualBox, which is free, lets me boot winders in a window on my Linux desktop. Windows runs as just another task. And when Windows crashes, simply close the window and you’re done with it.
I installed the version of Windows that came with my old Dell laptop. It was supposed to be bound to that hardware but VirtualBox takes care of that. It runs very smoothly – as smoothly as windows can. In fact, I’m writing this post using a nice little program called BlogDesk that is running under XP in a desktop window.
Now I have the best of both worlds. The reliability and flexibility of Linux and on the rare occasions when I need it, Winders is just a mouse click away. And like a rabid dog, winders is properly caged in its own environment where it can’t cause harm to the actual system. I like that.
In summary, the conversion to Linux has been a complete success. There is very little more that I could ask. The system just runs. The only time that it gets rebooted is when an update calls for a reboot.