Sachin Sharma
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Only a Sith deals in absolutes. I will do what I must.
- Obi Wan Kanobi
- StarWars III - Revenge of the Sith


Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty) Upgrade Woes

I upgraded to Ubuntu 9.04 within 2 weeks of its release. For me, it broke more than what it fixed. I spent almost a week after the upgrade bringing things to how it used to work. Here is a list of all the problems I faced. Note that none of the listed problems were there on Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid).

Reconfigure ADSL connection at every boot

This is the first of my problems. I have a ADSL connection at home. After the upgrade when I tried “pon dsl-provider” it just did not connect. Running the “plog” command told me that the “network is down”. All right. I did a “sudo pppoeconfig” and configured my internet. Then “pon dsl-provider” again. This time I got an error saying that only users of the “dip” group are permitted to use this command. What the hell? Anyway, I did “sudo pon dsl-provider” and the internet connected just fine. The next day when I restarted the PC and tried “sudo pon dsl-provider”, guess what? Yes, I get the “network is down” error again. Right up till now I have to do a “sudo pppoeconfig” everytime I boot my PC.

Only users of the “dip” group are permitted to use “pon dsl-provider”

A workaround is to use “sudo pon dsl-provider”. I have a script though that connects and disconnects to the internet and it runs under my own user's cron tasks. Hence I need the “pon dsl-provider” to work correctly without using “sudo”. I tried a “sudo adduser sharma dip” and Ubuntu faithfully added the user “sharma” to the “dip” group. Then I tried “pon dsl-provider” again and wasn't surprised to see the same error again. I went to System > Administration > Users and Groups and found that there is no group named “dip”. How did it add the user to the “dip” group when there wasn't any? The answer is still a mystery. Anyway, I added a new group “dip” and selected “sharma” as a user under “dip”. I tried again and got the same error. All right now, time to google the problem. Soon I found out that the group ID of “dip” is suppose to be 30 and the “dip” group I added had group ID 1000 or something. So I went to “Users and Group” again and corrected the problem. Finally I was able to connect to the Internet without using “sudo”.

New version of transmission-remote broke my scripts

I have a script that is scheduled using “crontab” to connect to the internet every night, pick up the next torrent and start downloading it. Every morning, it disconnects from the Internet and shuts down the PC. For this I use transmission-daemon and transmission-remote. After the upgrade, my script, which is written in Python started giving exceptions. Now what? There were 2 problems. First, transmission-remote now needs authentication. So “transmission-remote -l” that gave me perfectly valid torrent list before now started giving a authentication failure type of error. Google again and I found out that the new command is “transmission-remote -n transmission:transmission -l” (-n is same as --auth required to provide user name and password for authentication). The second problem was that the output of the list (“-l” option) now added another column that broke parsing code of my script. So I had to go ahead and fix both these issues in the script.

VLC media player crashes when I open any video

As if the above problems were not enough, the moment I tried watching a movie by opening it in VLC media player, it crashed. A video that was playing just fine in Ubuntu 8.10 started crashing for no reason. I tried Movie Player and even that crashed. This gave me a clue that this has something to do with the video drivers since both players are crashing. I started fidgeting around VLC media player's settings and found that there is a choice of video outputs. I selected “X11” and the crash disappeared.

VLC media player video performance hit

As soon as I figured out and worked around VLC media player's crash, I bumped into this little issue. The video performance was distinctly slower than earlier. The video output was showing tearing for hi-motion scenes. I googled and found that this has something to do with Intel drivers and the new version was reported to have dropped video performance already. I tried going back to the old drivers by following the steps provided but did not get back the performance. I still boot into Windows XP when I want to watch a movie.

VLC media player's video is displayed in another window

At this point I felt like giving up and switching back to Windows. But I really like Linux and want to use it for most of the things I do. So I googled the problem again and found that there was in fact a bug in VLC media player that affected embedding video in the main window. Now that I switch to Windows for viewing videos this isn't really a problem for me. I do check VLC media player after every update to see if the bug has been fixed. Google also revealed that the bug is fixed in VLC media player version 1.0, which is currently in Beta.

Visual Effects stopped working

This started with 8.10. I have a PC with no graphic card. It has an Intel motherboard and chip. On earlier versions of Ubuntu, Visual Effects worked just fine. Not only the Normal setting, but Extra also. On 8.10, Extra did not work but Normal did. On 9.04, both, Normal and Extra don't work. I am not a huge fan of Visual Effects so I can live with this. But the Normal setting does give certain extra features that kind of feels like a must-have.

I remember the first time I had tried Ubuntu 7.04. The OS impressed me so much that I started switching over everything from Windows to Ubuntu. Till the time I went up to 8.10, things were just going smoothly. Yes, every upgrade changed the way Internet is managed and one upgrade broke my screen resolution but those were only singular issues. With Ubuntu 9.04 though, I faced so many issues. It is distinctly faster but at the cost of so many other problems.

It made me wonder that there was Ubuntu 7.04 that converted me to Linux and now there is Ubuntu 9.04 that would have never made me switch from Windows to XP. Although, I stand converted now.

Linux is free right, what more do you expect? Well at least not regressions. If things worked earlier, it should work after the upgrade also.
Saturday, June 06, 2009 at 12:11 PM. Comments: 2.
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