Olly finally got around to “Upgrading” his Sony Vaio VPCZ21MPE Ultrabook to Linux Mint 14. he tried the upgrade path, admittedly it’s not recommended and his experience highlights why. The upgrade instructions on Linux Mint’s site were basically how Linux Power Users used to upgrade their Distro’s back in the day, edit your sources.list file and then perform apt-get update, upgrade, dist-upgrade and then reboot. This worked fine up to the point where VirtualBox upgraded and tried to restart the service but couldn’t as the version of the kernel it needed wasn’t running as it had only just installed it. When FAIL popped up against this item in the terminal Olly thought to himself “Aye I, this is going to come back and bite me in the arse later” but by then it was too late!! Rebooting was fine it brought him back to the GDM Login screen without issue, however as soon as he logged in there was a Gnome Session Error which reported a session failure and informed him it was going to abort, looking at the error log showed it was unable to initialise VirtualBox due to the VirtualBox demon not being present. After a reboot Olly tried again to log-in but got the same result.
Olly then booted with a LiveUSB image and at this point ran out of courage and decided as he was in the Live environment, he might as well hit the installer and blow away the upgraded installation and start afresh.
There are infact two recommended “Upgrade” paths, the one outlined above and the second is the “Fresh Upgrade” which is basically blowing away your existing installation after running the mintBackup tool which copies all your data and software selections, installing the latest version and then running the backup tool again to restore your data and your software choices. This is the recommended way of upgrading, though this can’t really be described as upgrading. Olly did run the backup tool before trying the other method so was able to restore most of his software, there were a few apps which were installed outside the Repo’s which baulked the restore when it came to install, but there were only two applications this effected so not a massive problem. Something else Olly does which is recommended especially if you want to change Distro regularly is to have a separate partition for your home directory, leave this intact every time and just remount it during disk partitioning. You may need to remove the desktop settings folders usually hidden (the name appended with a dot) especially if your changing Distros.
Even with all this it took just over an hour to upgrade, Olly is liking the new features they’ve added, he’ll discuss this in more details on Episode 32 of the Full Circle Magazine Podcast.