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Ubuntu OS upgrades usually degrade function on older machines

Posted 10-29-2016 at 08:07 PM by flshope
Updated 12-15-2016 at 06:37 PM by flshope (Add to list of Ubuntu 16.04 anomalies)

I have two machines running Ubuntu, one a 5-year old Pogo Linux desktop ("Pogo2011" running Ubuntu 16.04 LTS) and the other an 8-year old HP notebook ("HP2008" running Ubuntu 14.04). To date, I have gone through 10 Ubuntu installs or major version upgrades (including 4 on a 2003 Pogo Linux desktop, which I finally moved to Debian to keep it alive ("Pogo2003" running Debian 8.6)).

It has been my experience that Ubuntu OS upgrades do not generally produce improvements in machine function on less than state-of-the-art machines, but rather that I always lose capability with each upgrade. For example, on my Pogo2011 after upgrade to 14.04, Unity became sufficiently slower that I abandoned it altogether in favor of Gnome Flashback. On my HP2008 laptop, the 14.04 upgrade would not even install until I moved 12.04 to Gnome Flashback. The worst upgrade was when I moved Pogo2003 to 14.04, which left the machine booting to a blank screen (not crashed, just no display support), including with the virtual consoles (e.g., ctl-alt-F1), at which point I restored functionality by moving the machine to Debian 7 (now at 8).

On 09/09/16 I upgraded my Pogo2011 to Ubuntu 16.04, and since then I have been experiencing progressing degradation of the machine. It is perhaps relevant that I am running Gnome Flashback as my desktop. A list of the problems is as follows:
- Timezone error dialog box after log in (ktimezoned).
- Windows within workspaces freeze until minimized and restored.
- Ubuntu internal error: Akonadi failure dialog box after log in.
- Can no longer create new file in Nautilus from right clicking.
- Cannot place Files (Nautilus) on desktop.
- Ubuntu internal error due to Gnome-panel.
- Canon Rebel XT digital camera will no longer auto-mount.
- Cannot change gnome-system-monitor preferences except in Unity.
- Files windows have no border and the boundaries are hard to distinguish when overlaying simlarly colored windows.
- Libre Office Calc sheets change size on their own but restore original size with slight change of screen position.
- Imagemagick no longer executes.
- ImageScan will not load without displaying error messages (that do not affect function).
- Intermittent log-on attempts fail, possibly associated with kern.log entry: "Unrecoverable failure in required component gnome-panel.desktop".
- Complete failure of log-on through Flashback, until a software update upgraded the nVidia 304 driver. Then Unity log-on became impossible.
- Random crashes of Libre Office
- Thunderbird email send failures
- Sporadic failure to mount or dismount USB flash drives (installing/using pmount seems to help)

All of this started since the 16.04 upgrade.

I am considering drastic action, including a clean re-install of 16.04, or moving the machine to Debian 8.
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  1. Old Comment
    Well, they do make a minimal cd at around 50 to 90 MB download or so.

    You can install fluxbox during the install procedure.
    Then build up from there. Worth a shot if you really like Ubuntu. I have done what I am saying myself. On a Ubuntu 14.04 minimal Icewm Window Manager install where I installed synaptic and worked my way up from there.

    But if just wanting prepackaged. My IBM T23 still functions on AntiX 15 pretty well using the Fluxbox window manager and a wireless G pmcia cardbus.

    AntiX can be Debian Jessie, Testing, or Unstable

    $ inxi -r
    Repos: Active apt sources in file: /etc/apt/sources.list.d/antix.list
    deb jessie main nosystemd
    Active apt sources in file: /etc/apt/sources.list.d/debian.list
    deb jessie main contrib non-free
    deb jessie/updates main contrib non-free

    Older gear just requires more elbow grease as time moves on. It is not just Ubuntu full iso dvds that are leaving older gear behind.

    So check out little known jems like BBQ Linux

    It can teach you a little something something. I am a elder statesman myself. Retired. Not College educated.
    But self taught, with good enough linux skills to be accepted as a distro team member.
    Posted 11-13-2016 at 11:07 AM by rokytnji rokytnji is offline
  2. Old Comment
    rokytnji: Thanks for your thoughts and for taking the time to help. I'll take another look at AntiX. Fluxbox and BBQ Linux look like they require significant investments of time and study. I think my next move will probably be Debian since I already have some (limited) experience there.
    Posted 11-16-2016 at 10:49 AM by flshope flshope is offline
  3. Old Comment
    After a software update to my nVidia 304 driver a few weeks ago, Unity started working again. Its response is very good and I have started using it again. At log in, however, I still get error boxes for Akondia and ktimezoned that don't seem to affect anything I do.
    Posted 02-11-2017 at 08:37 PM by flshope flshope is offline
  4. Old Comment
    Addendum: Recently, I discovered that the Akonadi errors were associated with KAlarm being set for automatic start-up at log in. To get rid of the error box, I opened Startup Applications from the Unity Dash and unchecked KAlarm. I don't know why, when, or how this was chosen for start up. Since I haven't been using KAlarm, this change doesn't affect anything I do.
    Posted 03-29-2017 at 06:11 PM by flshope flshope is offline


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