From famine to feast…

[* If you don’t know who or what these are, check the Glossary page]

RIP Kubuntu

To famine!…I left the title I started this post with (From famine to feast…) because it illustrates how frustrated we are trying to find a Linux distribution that works with our old hardware.  I thought I was going to tell you how we went from no satisfactory Linux distribution to having two that were performing excellently. Two minutes after I wrote that title, I broke Kubuntu. That’s the second time.

The first time we broke Kubuntu was when RoboFrog first installed it. The installation was no problem, but the software updater froze while updating the system. It reached 48% and just stopped. HE* waited for 20 minutes before taking any action, then forced a reboot. HE told me before HE did it that it probably wasn’t going to be a good thing. HE was right. The system no longer booted.

We knew that interrupting a software update wasn’t a good thing, so we chalked that one up to our own stupidity. RoboFrog reinstalled Kubuntu and used command-line tools to update the system. Everything went perfectly. Kubuntu was functioning extremely well. The system was beautiful. We used it for six days…before I broke it.

You see, I’m the crash-dummy here on the LilyPad.  The-Frog is our fixer…I’m the breaker. I really have a talent for it. I can break almost anything. Luckily, HE can fix almost anything. It’s a great partnership, a yen/yang sort of thing.

How did I break Kubuntu? I went into System Settings->Input devices, selected Apple Aluminum Keyboard, and rebooted. On reboot, KDE slowed to a crawl. I tried to change the keyboard setting back. I clicked on the ‘K’ application menu and waited. It took more than 20 seconds for the application menu to appear. Wow! I selected the System Settings application, got the bouncing cursor that tells me that the application is loading, the normal cursor returned…and nothing. I tried that a couple of times with the same result. Rebooted…same result. That’s when HE stepped in an took Whitestar* away from me. HE already had the Xubuntu disk in hand and before I could say boo, Kubuntu was gone.

I told you last time that I figured out that HE has a thing for Xubuntu. I think HE was just waiting for an excuse.

This is all happening in real-time. HE’s already loaded Xubuntu onto Whitestar and updated it. The updater worked brilliantly. RoboFrog changed a few system settings that I’ll tell you about next time, turned to me and said, “Now let’s see if I can break it.”

“Break it? You just got it fixed.”

“Trust me,” HE said. “This is our system. It’ll work.”

HE hasn’t been that confident in a very long time. HE proceeded to bring up Synaptic (our preferred GUI* package manager) and marked every single piece of software that we normally load. We usually only mark and install half a dozen packages at a time until we get everything loaded. We’ve tried this with the Ubuntu Software Center and it just chokes. It likes one or two packages at a time.

Synaptic says that we asked it to install 715 files! I keep watching Whitestar as I write this on Defiant waiting for something bad to happen. In the time that I’ve written this, Synaptic has already completed the download and just finished the installations! From the point that RoboFrog took Whitestar away from me, in about 40 minutes, HE loaded Xubuntu, updated the system, and loaded all of our software. The system didn’t even break a sweat when HE asked Synaptic to load 715 files. Maybe there is light at the end of this tunnel.

Another 15 minutes and HE has Whitestar talking to the server and reloading the backup files. I’m a bit surprised (impressed, really). In roughly an hour HE has gone from nothing to having Whitestar completely restored.

Amazingly, I’m back to Whitestar. The first thing that I notice is that Xfce is very fast. I loved KDE. Even with the problems we experienced, if we had new hardware, I’d want to give it another shot. Xubuntu, though, seems to be running very well on our eight-year-old hardware. It’s beautiful; it’s fast. Now if it’ll just behave itself.

Okay, that’s enough of the Kubuntu saga. We have moved everything to Xubuntu. If I read RoboFrog correctly, this is where we’re going to stay for a while. Kubuntu lasted for six days. This is day three for Xubuntu. We’ll see how it goes.

RoboFrog gave Defiant to me a couple of days ago with Xubuntu loaded and told me to put her through her paces. I’ve already had a few pleasant surprises. Next time Xubuntu…I hope!

2 responses to “From famine to feast…

  1. One of the beauties of Linux, is that there is few times when you should need to reboot.
    The latest version of KDE or Gnome are the Kardashians of Linux, look great with all the colourful(sic) makeup on, but at the expense of all your resources.

    Linux itself (The Kernel and GNU tools) is excellent at supporting old hardware and LXDE and XFCE are great lightweight GUI’s, I use the first of those two but it has less features.

    Try use the command-line to update your system “sudo apt-get update” for debian based systems, it might just be Synaptics (GUI front end) that is crashing. If this happens don’t reboot, just switch to command line and run “ps” to find the process and “kill -s 9 xxxx” on it, where xxxx is the process ID.

    Also, since you are playing about with settings a lot; after you’ve installed and got up and running, create a new boot record/Kernel to boot from in GRUB/LILO which ever you use, making your system bootable again if somethin goes really wrong.
    Make a backup of ~/.config and ~/.local folders or any other config files in your home (~) directory that are likely to be hidden with the . infront of the name, “ps -a” to see them, this way it’s easy to restore thing like KDE if it goes wrong rather than re-installing all the time which can’t be good for your sanity 🙂

    • Robert, thank you so much for your comments. Great tips. We’ll give them a try. One thing, Synaptic has never given us any trouble on any distribution. It’s terrific. Command-line tools like apt and aptitude never give us any trouble (in fact, we prefer them). Ubuntu Software Center, however, has given us nothing but trouble.

      I think one of the reasons that RoboFrog is so fixated on Xubuntu is that HE realizes that our mature hardware doesn’t have the resources to spare for GUI’s like KDE.

      Thanks again for reading and for your comments.

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