Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Oh boy. I have two computers. On one, I upgraded from 12.04 to 12.10, attempting to go to 13.04 with catastrophic results, requiring me basically to install brand new 13.04 onto machine and this worked just fine. This was okay since I had a backup and didn't use this computer that much. (I'm on it now).

Now, on my main computer, I used sudo do-release-upgrade to go from 12.04 to 12.10. This worked well, I guess, but it wasn't my main destination and I didn't stay long. Everything seemed fine, so I inserted the DVD (13.04) I had used on the other machine, chose upgrade existing system and went to bed.

When I awoke, the first thing it told me was that "some programs could not be installed. You will have to reinstall them after reboot."

My first question is can a get a list of these, somehow?

After reboot, I find that everything is just dog slow. I type into the finder and each keystroke takes close to a second to appear in the edit box. Mouse clicks take forever to process.

My second question is I do have a backup, but short of a complete reinstall, is there anything that anyone might be able to suggest here?

My final question: is downgrade a possibility worth consideration?


I should clarify "everything is dog slow". That is not quite true. Once I managed to launch Firefox (It took a while to type "firefox" in the finder box and clicking icons takes forever), input within firefox, both mouse and keyboard is crisp and completely satisfactory. So it seems that the problem is mainly with the Ubuntu gnome desktop and not the graphics card. Also, even within the desktop "tool tips" appear quickly when the mouse moves over their area - it is only mouse clicks and keypresses on the desktop and task bar itself that are problematic.

UPDATE2: I've also found that Right-Click actions on the launcher bar work well. It's only left-clicks and keyboard actions within text boxes owned by the launcher bar, such as the finder, that are slow. In other words: left click on launcher button: wait forever Right click on launcher and choose menu item that opens a window for app: ok

Also: typing Alt-Tab to switch between apps: dog slow again

UPDATE3: Finally got around to trying ansidev's answer below. I rebooted into recovery mode, enabled networking and did the recovery thing. It did not help.

Current status, the system is basically functional, except for Unity. Everything Unity touches is slow. The uppermost button, you wait forever. Any key typed into the edit box for Unity search takes maybe 5 seconds to appear. Alt-Tab is ridiculously slow. Right-clicking on unity buttons is better, for some reason.

This is not the most recent system ever but it should be adequate. It's a 6 year old Dell Inspiron 530 with 4GB of RAM. I have a less powerful system that is running this same version of Ubuntu (installed from scratch) better than this. Things are a little slow on that machine but acceptably so. This is not acceptable, an order of magnitude worse performing.

I suspect a graphics mismatch somewhere or something like that. It's only when it does all that transparency fade-in business (which I could live without, I admit) that I notice the slowness.

Since I have this other computer running all my critical stuff for the time being I'm willing to spend a little time trying to get to the bottom of this one. But I'm not sure how.

Can anyone help or point me to a source where folks knowledgeable in the nitty gritty of Unity are available? Thanks. If not, my only options will be to reinstall from scratch or to find another distro. I don't want to do that, I've been happy with Ubuntu for six years or more, but if the sizzle is going to overwhelm the steak, it's not good. Looking for the best path forward.

share|improve this question
Suggestions: 1)Never going to bed when you making a distribution upgrade. 2)Check the graphics card driver. Most of problems usually coming from there. 3)Downgrade is almost not possible. A re-installation if preferable. – NikTh Oct 23 '13 at 11:30
You mean, the upgrade continues in a bad state if left it doesn't get input after some time? I never knew that. My experience had been that it sits there waiting. I expected some of those. If so, it sounds like a bad idea. – stevecoh1 Oct 23 '13 at 11:35
No, I don't mean that. It cannot continue in bad state, but I cannot think my self in bed when a distribution upgrade is in progress. I also don't mean to sit in front of the screen the whole time, but is preferable to watch the update progress in case that something wrecked. – NikTh Oct 23 '13 at 11:42
Well, I slept okay if that was what you meant. :-) – stevecoh1 Oct 23 '13 at 11:44

I think you should try recovery mode to fix broken package. Remember to enable networking in recovery mode.

share|improve this answer
Not a bad idea, but one problem stands in my way there:… – stevecoh1 Oct 23 '13 at 12:09
My solutions for me: First: Boot using Ubuntu installation CD or USB, install boot-repair. Run it and try to repair boot loader. Second: If first solution failed, you should backup your data and reinstall Ubuntu using Ubuntu installation or USB. I think you should use Ubuntu 13.04 because I am using Ubuntu 13.10 and there are some small bug. So I think 13.04 is more stable than 13.10. – ansidev Oct 23 '13 at 12:13
I tried your recovery mode suggestion and it brought no joy. But then I did not remember to enable networking, so that probably wasn't valid. I was busy with other stuff. I will try again this evening. Also, are you saying that boot-repair might fix the grub display issue? I find this problem maddening. Why can't the grub screen just aim at the lowest common denominator and why on earth does a bad configuration of the grub screen have to affect the display once the actual system loads? – stevecoh1 Oct 24 '13 at 14:05
No joy with networking-enabled either. Thanks, but that is not the answer. – stevecoh1 Oct 25 '13 at 12:33
You should consider second solution, but think about it last. – ansidev Oct 25 '13 at 15:14

It took me all week to get to this point? Geez.

The problem was simply this: My six year old PC's graphics card (Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] nee ATI RV610 [Radeon HD 2400 PRO]) is simply not sufficiently powerful (or there is no driver making it so) to run Unity! End of story.

This is in spite of, which tells me that my opensource driver is fully supported, which might be true depending on what your definition of fully supported is. In my case it did not mean supported enough to allow Unity to run at even a barely acceptable speed. And no, there were no alternative drivers available on whatever settings page was said to possibly contain such.

The final test that proved this to me was running Ubuntu 13.04 from the CD ROM. There I experienced the same miserable slowness that I experienced running the install.

My solution: use an alternative desktop. For now, I seem to have decided on XUbuntu.

I have to say that askUbuntu failed me here. The more I researched, the more I found this to be a known issue. A much better resource at getting to the bottom of this was the #ubuntu channel on xchat.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.