In the past, I've upgraded Ubuntu 10.10 to Ubuntu 11.04 using the auto-upgrade function. Unfortunately, the upgrade didn't go very well, and I ended up with a broken 11.04. Because of that, I had to manually reinstall 11.04 from a LiveUSB.

After that, I didn't want to risk to get my system broken again, so six months after, I installed 11.10 from a LiveUSB too, instead of upgrading from 11.04.

But this method starts to annoy me, and I'd like to use the auto-upgrade function to upgrade from 11.10 to 12.04 in April. Besides of making a full-system backup, what can I do to make this Ubuntu upgrade go as smoothly and error-free as possible?


I usually don't have any problems upgrading, here is what I do for my computers:

  • Read the Release Notes.
  • Plan accordingly - Though we strive to make the upgrade experience easy and troublefree sometimes bad things happen, an operating system upgrade is a major thing. Have good backups and don't do an upgrade during a point in time where it would become inconvenient for you to have to fix something.
  • Keep it simple - I don't have exotic multidrive setups or things that need me messing around with grub or my partitions. I use the default layout the installer recommends for my laptop, and a simple SSD/HDD setup for my desktops.
  • Don't use PPAs - Even though the upgrader will disable PPAs there's no way to guarantee that disabling them will remove the bad packages as they're untested.
  • Be concious of the software you use - Even if something might not be exactly the tool I am looking for if a package is in main I will tend to use it instead of software that might be in universe or a PPA. The more popular something is (or if it's in main) then I can be reasonably confident that it's more well tested than some obscure program. For example the resolver in aptitude is untested, so I don't use it.
  • Don't follow instructions on things that you don't understand as they might break things in an upgrade, especially if it's on a website that doesn't get updated or allow for community peer review. Unfortunately most "linux tips" websites publish this information with no regard to the consequences, especially with things that drastically changes parts of the operating system.
  • Participate with other community members on certain hardware. For example I have a Thinkpad so I follow along the Thinkpad mailing lists, this puts me in a pool of people who will give me the greatest chance of helping me if I need it. This is especially useful for laptops as you want to ensure that things like suspend and resume work perfectly.
  • Next time you purchase new hardware don't buy things that are known to be horrible with Linux support, especially if you had to do post-install fixes to make it work. Seek out hardware from companies that do support Linux and double check that the thing is supported well.
  • You don't have to upgrade right away - I have a friend who teaches at a University and as a general rule he doesn't upgrade on release, he upgrades at the end of that semester. He still gets a new version of Ubuntu on a regular basis, he's just "off cycle" a bit and upgrades after a bunch of fixes have already gone into that current stable release.
  • Test the version of Ubuntu you are upgrading to on a live CD first. confirm you hardware works (video card, monitors, wireless, etc).

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