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Upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04 -- Part I: Good Design Makes a Difference

Bill Malchisky  May 16 2011 05:30:00 AM

UPDATE -- Unfortunately, the HTML rendering engine decided to reorder several of the screenshots and arbitrarily crop two. Everything is fine on the back-end. This result, I find infuriating after all the time I spent this weekend writing multiple posts. In the end, the quality failed to deliver, and uncertain at this time. So, I apologize up-front. I will take another look later in the day on Monday.

This is the first installment in a five part series on Ubuntu 11.04. The team at Canonical made great strides to simplify the end-user experience and attract a greater audience with their new window manager. So, I will cover the process and help save some people some time by lowering the learning curve a bit.

Here are the components of the series:
Part I --  Facets of the installation upgrade process that I like -- as in how their installation algorithm separates itself well from its competitors.
Part II -- Thoughts on Unity and Application Installation Tidbits
Part III -- Some Things Just Don't Work After an Upgrade
Part IV -- Time Saving Tips with Unity
Part V -- Contrasting Unity with Gnome3

Now, let's get started.

I started my upgrade from 10.0.4 LTS. Initially, I had 10.10 installed, but it did not work well on my system, so I reinstalled to get back to 10.04 and stayed there for a while. Once they had enough bug fixes implemented, the upgrade back to 10.10 went smoothly for me. This intermediary step allowed for an easy upgrade path to 11.04. Here is how it looked.

Let's start with the upgrade path from 10.04 LTS to 10.10. I clicked on the Update Manager and clicked on the "New Version upgrade" button. Upon doing that, the first dialog box below appeared. Canonical ensures that the end-user knows what is going to happen to their machine and how long it is going to take. Putting the power of the upgrade into the hands of the user, rather than the developer. Important, as if you have less time than is required or are unsure how long it will take, you can plan with a reasonable level of certainty.

Image:Upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04 -- Part I: Good Design Makes a Difference

Upon starting the upgrade, you get a status window. Observe that the "Terminal" field is grayed-out. This will come into play later with the process.

Image:Upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04 -- Part I: Good Design Makes a Difference

Now this feature I like. I have customized my defaults list for Gnome (the window manager) and it caught that. The installation program identified the differences and allowed me to make a decision with how to proceed. As I was uncertain how the files differed, I clicked the "Difference between the files" twistie to view that data.

Image:Upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04 -- Part I: Good Design Makes a Difference

What I learned is that for me, the Open Office icons were easy to restore, along with file-roller. With the screen shot, I captured the information for a quick restore. I chose Replace. In my opinion, this level of respect for one's time will never occur with a Windows installation.

Image:Upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04 -- Part I: Good Design Makes a Difference

During the actual program installation phase, you can expand the Terminal twistie to see exactly what changes are being made to your system.

Image:Upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04 -- Part I: Good Design Makes a Difference


Typically when one is on an LTS version, you had to manually request software channels be enabled in software manager to get prompted for a non-LTS upgrade. Example, when going from 8.04 LTS, Update Manager was configured to wait for the next LTS version -- which would be 10.04 LTS. So, while on 8.04 LTS you would never be prompted for the 8.10, 9.04, or 9.10 upgrades. I understand their reasons, but some users did not. So, if you entered Update Manager, you can enable new channels to pick-up the non-LTS upgrades and proceed as expected. With 10.10, Ubuntu it catches that you have made that change previously and alerts you. In my case, I chose to Replace and continue.

Image:Upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04 -- Part I: Good Design Makes a Difference

This is my favorite dialog box in the whole process...

Image:Upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04 -- Part I: Good Design Makes a Difference

One, you get to see what it is removing, and two, you get the option to keep them anyway. I dislike clutter, so I removed them. But, I did first look to see if any where some custom applications that I installed. One package was listed. I then jotted down the name and installed it quite quickly upon completion. Saves a lot of time and frustration later.

The process continued and then suddenly, I got the final configuration. All the files downloaded and only one, yes one, reboot.

Image:Upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04 -- Part I: Good Design Makes a Difference

So that's it! A successful upgrade from 10.04 LTS to 10.10. All nice and easy. On to the upgrade for 11.04...




Clicking on the Update Manager I received this package. The release notes hotspot in the lower left corner is a nice touch. Clicking "Yes, Upgrade Now" to proceed...

Image:Upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04 -- Part I: Good Design Makes a Difference

Gives me the same dialog box we saw for the 10.10 upgrade. Ubuntu let's you know what changes will be made and provides a relatively decent estimate based upon a quick analysis of your ISP connection. Yes it can take a long time on older hardware, with a full disk, and slow connection. My laptop is over three years old, but has an optimized file system layout and 7.2k RPM, so writing to disk took much less time than performing a Windows upgrade -- in my experience.

Image:Upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04 -- Part I: Good Design Makes a Difference

A nice status screen with an accurate status bar -- that only finishes once, rather than restarting as some applications with weak algorithms tend to do.

Image:Upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04 -- Part I: Good Design Makes a Difference

The process from here is the same as the 10.10 install, with one exception -- no custom dialog box messages. Why? I replaced them in the previous install, so the 11.04 upgrade had default configuration files. Saved some time and made the process more automated.

Image:Upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04 -- Part I: Good Design Makes a Difference

Nice and simple. Now, let's get ready for the new desktop environment...and what a gem they created.
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