Day 12 - Ubuntu 14.04 LTS installation fails

I run an ancient Ubuntu 14.04 LTS installation. I installed it in December 2014, and I have faced problems in between but I have almost always tried to fix them without having to re-install the whole operating system because frankly, re-installing an operating system is an unbelievably pain. These are the steps that I can think of off-hand:

  1. Accept the fact that you have to re-install your OS
  2. Start preparing for the re-install, search all the directories like ~/Downloads for files that you can’t afford to delete
  3. Figure out what files you want to Back-up depending on how much extra storage you have. Almost everyone I know has exactly as much storage as they use. I am included in that list, I have very less crawl space
  4. Back-up the files that you intended to back-up, make sure you don’t miss anything. Doing it now, I have found that using a paper for this step greatly eases the pain because then you don’t have to stare at your screen, strangely comforting.
  5. Check the whole file-system once more, and take the plunge.
  6. WHOA WAIT! If you lose a file, it might be nice to know what you lost atleast. So, let’s store the output to tree /driveD and tree /home/ and tree /driveO etc to a text file and back that up as well. This unfortunately takes a LOT LONGER then one would expect. I ran tree > /dev/null on a 350 GB NTFS partition, and it took 25 minutes for that command to complete executing. Yup.
  7. Take the plunge. Forget everything that’s on the partitions you are going to delete and over-write now, and create the Bootable USB
  8. Restart to Windows and use Rufus or something to create the USB (because nothing exists to create a Ubuntu Live USB that works with UEFI on Ubuntu, how ironic)
  9. Restart, go to the Live USB. START INSTALLATION.

That’s 9 steps to start the installation, partitioning etc are things to be dealt with after. RIGHT.

Why did I come to the conclusion that a reinstall is long overdue?

I started Google Chrome and VLC after a routine restart. It didn’t work. It said this:

VLC media player 2.2.4 Weatherwax (revision 2.2.3-37-g888b7e89)
[0000000000e241e8] core libvlc: Running vlc with the default interface. Use 'cvlc' to use vlc without interface.

(process:11885): Gtk-WARNING **: Locale not supported by C library.
        Using the fallback 'C' locale.
vlc: symbol lookup error: /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/gtk-2.0/modules/ undefined symbol: ubuntu_gtk_set_use_overlay_scrollbar

Same with Google Chrome Stable. I wasn’t really shocked or anything to see this error, I thought I could fix it. How naive I was, because this is not a common error that has been faced by a lot of people before. This is an error few people run into, and those who do, they never do fix it! A quick search proved that to me. More digging solidifed the point, and made a reinstall inevitable.

I took the normal steps anyway: Removed the vlc, google-chrome-stable packages. Did a complete sudo apt-get upgrade which downloaded about 380 MB of packages and installed them. I then installed vlc and hoped it would work, it didn’t.

I now use Firefox for browsing. Youtube doesn’t work Firefox. I am really not in any mood to debug that or figure it out. In my opinion, Youtube should just work. There used to be an option at where you could choose if you would prefer to use the Flash player or the HTML5 player, now they have removed it and it automatically tries to use the HTML5 player. I don’t know what’s going on here, and it’s extremely irritating that a basic website doesn’t work on the default browser that’s shipped with Ubuntu. Distributions are probably the reason Linux never made it big in the desktop market, it’s a sad state of affairs. But anyway, I have decided to take the plunge, and the only thing that remains now is the hope that somehow magically, the reinstall will go through smoothly and my computer will emerge from the ashes (ah, such BS) with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS being it’s new power horse.

I just read the Release Notes for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, and I am surprised at the amount of changes that have happened in this release. Now, I do feel as if I should stay off the LTS versions, and instead go onto the 16.10 version and then re-install every year. That would be a major pain, but if I could figure out partitioning properly, and only have to over-write the / (root) partition, then this should be worth it. Probably not now, because I have to keep my machine in Dual Boot despite not using Windows at all for other reasons (read “National Instruments Drivers are only available for Windows”).

I currently have the 3.13 kernel. That’s about 2 years old. I am pretty sure that there were a lot of security issues and bugs that were patched in these two years. There is most certainly a way to get the latest kernel without changing your distribution. There has to be, right? Okay. Mental note: find out that method and keep the kernel atleast on the latest stable build of the same major version.

POST #12 is OVER