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I got a small, arm-based device. I edited /etc/apt/sources.list to have it pointing on old-releases.ubuntu.com instead of archive.ubuntu.com . At this point everything's fine, the repositories are found.

When I launch a distribution upgrade, nevertheless (from 08.04 to 08.10), apt looks for the new repositories at archive.ubuntu.com, and they are no longer online.

I suppose it should look for them at old-releases.ubuntu.com instead, but I'm not able to tweak in order to have it done.

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what version do you want to upgrade to? Have you tried to upgrade via live-CD ? –  Alvar Jun 3 '12 at 11:25
    
Please use 12.04 or 10.04, both LTS. –  izx Jun 3 '12 at 13:37
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2 Answers

Ubuntu tries to support upgrading an unsupported release if the release you're upgrading to is supported, and furthermore Ubuntu 8.04 LTS has some support because the Server version is still supported (without a GUI or any community-maintained applications).

You should upgrade to the subsequent LTS release (10.04 LTS) rather than the very next non-LTS release. Ubuntu 10.04 LTS is still supported, whereas Ubuntu 8.10 has not been supported for a very long time.

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In this case, since the version you are using is very outdated. Make a liveCD/USB of Ubuntu 12.04 and wipe the drive for a fresh install. I advise against ever doing an in place upgrade, because things get broken easily.

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