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Ubuntu 14.04 upgrade fails on 11-yr-old computer

Posted 09-06-2014 at 11:09 AM by flshope

I have an 11-year old computer running Ubuntu 12.04. The Software Manager has had the 14.04 upgrade available for about a month now, and I decided to give it a try. Since OS upgrades have traditionally been disasters for me, I decided to try the 14.04 upgrade on the old machine before risking my primary machine. If you happen to read my LQ blog, there are entries referring to Pogo2003, as I call my old machine.

The upgrade installer program warned me that some of my hardware wasn't supported by 14.04, but I went ahead anyway. The installation went OK and took 3 hours. What I ended up with is a machine with a graphics card not supported by 14.04. The display is bog-slow and does not support workspaces. The problem is (I believe) that 14.04 does not include the nVidia driver needed for this machine. The graphics card is the nVidia GeForce4 Ti 4200 AGP 8X.

Actually, all of the applications software that I tried seemed to run OK; but the machine is molasses-in-January slow and is unusable. Nor can I live with only one workspace. I have 64 on my primary machine. I don't see how Windows users put up with only one -- or has this limitation been remedied? -- I haven't looked at Windows for so long.

I would like to keep this machine viable if possible. Perhaps another linux distribution would be better suited to old hardware. Or maybe I can find a newer 32-bit graphics card that Ubuntu 14.04 would support. Of course, I can revert to 12.04, I presume, with a clean install.

This blog entry isn't a cry for help, though I may pose some specific questions elsewhere on LQ -- after I exhaust my own knowledge and capabilities (which won't take that long, unfortunately) and then do some LQ and Launchpad searches.
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  1. Old Comment
    I solved some of the display problems with the Ubuntu 14.04 upgrade. After some adverse experimentation with other display drivers shown by the Software Center, which disabled the graphical display altogether, I used apt to remove the bad drivers and install the bumblebee-nvidia/trusty driver. Suddenly, workspaces started working and the display of some of the applications, such as the Software Center, started working as expected (had been very quirky). However, the display is still unacceptably slow.
    Posted 09-06-2014 at 11:20 PM by flshope flshope is offline
  2. Old Comment
    As part of deciding what to do with the machine that is nearly non-functional with Ubuntu 14.04, I decided to try Puppy-Wary Linux, which is said to be good for old hardware. Puppy can be run entirely from a bootable CD without altering the existing OS installation. On my old machine, Puppy did indeed run acceptably in terms of display and speed. It nicely auto-setup the internet connection. I didn't try the email. I did not recognize many of the installed applications, but perhaps they were chosen for their small memory footprint (Puppy runs entirely from memory). Toward the end of my last session, I suddenly lost mouse control and had to do a ctl-alt-F1 to shut down. I don't know if this was Puppy's fault -- I use a KVM switch and lost mouse control on my other machine that was up at the time, too.
    Posted 09-08-2014 at 03:58 PM by flshope flshope is offline
  3. Old Comment
    I think I have solved my problem of dead-slow desktop response with Ubuntu 14.04 and Unity on my old 2003 machine. To reiterate, this machine has an nVidia GeForce4 Ti 4200 AGP 8X graphics card and uses the nvidia-96 driver under Ubuntu 12.04. Apparently, Canonical dropped support for this driver under 14.04; but the default driver they provided was not only slow but rendered incorrectly. To fix both problems, I did two things:

    (1) I installed the bumblebee-nvidia driver using the Software Center. This eliminated the rendering errors, but was so slow under Unity that the machine was almost unusable. Aside from being slow, though, all of the applications seemed to work OK.

    (2) I installed Gnome Flashback Services using the Software Center. This installed what I think people consider the classic Gnome desktop. Subjectively speaking, this desktop responds perhaps 100 times faster than Unity. Unity is actually a very nice working environment, but the cosmetics are very CP-intensive. Unity remains available on the machine, but Gnome Flashback Services installed two additional desktop choices (selectable at log on) called "Gnome Flashback (Metacity)" and "Gnome Flashback (Compiz)". The Metacity version is what I am now using. I'm not sure what the other one is yet.
    Posted 09-12-2014 at 04:53 PM by flshope flshope is offline


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