I actually joined Ask Ubuntu to answer a question that I had found an answer to but, unfortunately, I'm too new to do that... so I thought that I would post my experiences and share what I learned in case there is someone else out there who needs to google as much as I did to achieve something similar. Needless to say, this isn't really a Question but being a noob it is all I seem able to do.
Upgrading takes a long time. Going from 10.10 to 12.04 took me a day (including all my Googling and problem solving). Upgrading to another EOL distribution was different to upgrading to an active distribution (precise/12.04) so I'll approach them in turn.
Upgrading to another EOL distribution
For EOL distributions the repositories list in /etc/apt/sources.list needs to be updated
(I use edit as an alias for my favourite editor)
deb http://old-releases.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ CODENAME main restricted universe multiverse deb http://old-releases.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ CODENAME-updates main restricted universe multiverse deb http://old-releases.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ CODENAME-security main restricted universe multiverse
CODENAME needs to be replaced with the name of your EOL distribution. e.g. maverick. natty, oneiric etc.
In all my googling, no one ever said how many repositories should be referenced so I only ever listed the repositories for my current version and for my next version. I can't attribute any of the problems I encountered to this.
Commands for Upgrading
Next, the following commands are all that I needed. Sometimes it would look like I had entered dependency hell but the answer was always straight forward (see below). To keep this short, I won't explain each command here.
apt-get clean apt-get update apt-get -f dist-upgrade apt-get -f install dpkg --configure -a apt-get autoremove
To view your Ubuntu version:
Of course, not one upgrade went smoothly so those weren't the only commands I had to use and I had to use some of them many times to get through each upgrade. However, it is important to note that when I had issues that I had to google, it was mostly these commands that I kept coming back to in order to solve them.
The Unpacking Problem
If you get a dpkg error that says "trying to overwrite" like this one (this wasn't mine)
Unpacking replacement smplayer ... dpkg: error processing /var/cache/apt/archives/smplayer_0.6.9+svn3595-1ppa1~maverick1_i386.deb (--unpack): trying to overwrite '/usr/share/smplayer/translations/smplayer_eu.qm', which is also in package smplayer-translations 0.6.9-1 dpkg-deb: subprocess paste killed by signal (Broken pipe)
The solution is to manually --force-overwrite the package extraction.
dpkg -i --force-overwrite /var/cache/apt/archives/smplayer_0.6.9+svn3595-1ppa1~maverick1_i386.deb
Cannot Remove Errors
Most of these can be done manually. They aren't exactly critical but I did them anyway to keep the output of my upgrade commands simple.
11.10 Dependency Hell
After upgrading to 11.10 I had a few circular dependency issues that weren't going away and I couldn't solve them with my apt-get or dpkg commands as I had on previous occasions and nothing else was working so I just gave up and hoped that a "do-release-upgrade" to 12.04 would solve them (which it did).
Upgrading to an active distribution
The final upgrade for me was to go to precise (12.04).
First, I had messed up my sources list so I needed to rebuild it for the upgrade to 12.04. I used the Ubuntu Sources List Generator to do this and selected everything. Perhaps this wasn't the best of ideas but it worked out.
The first four lines I was given were:
deb http://uk.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ precise-security deb http://uk.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ precise-updates deb http://uk.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ precise-proposed deb http://uk.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ precise-backports
apt-get didn't like these so I added "main restricted universe multiverse" to each of them.
deb http://uk.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ precise-security main restricted universe multiverse deb http://uk.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ precise-updates main restricted universe multiverse deb http://uk.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ precise-proposed main restricted universe multiverse deb http://uk.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ precise-backports main restricted universe multiverse
That worked but I couldn't upgrade with apt-get as I had before because of the dependency hell that I was in so I just did
and everything turned out OK. It took over 2 hours to finish though which was a VERY long time compared to the other upgrades.
After All That
After all that, I have no dependency issues and I didn't even have my normal après upgrade desktop issues. In fact, there were only two issues with the desktop. I find this simply astounding as I have always had tons of issues after previous upgrades.
This is not an unusual problem for me after an upgrade and it is always difficult to track down. However this time I noticed that 12.04 uses pulseaudio so I installed pavucontrol.
apt-get install pavucontrol
I then ran it from the desktop run box by simply entering pavucontrol
All I had to do was unmute the audio and move the sliders for left and right output and voilà. My computer has never been so loud.
No Auto Login
I haven't solved this one yet. I have raised a question for it though.