Mandriva 2006 upgrade on Inspiron 8000 laptop saga Part I

I had a chance today to start the upgrade process for Mandriva 2006 on my laptop (Dell Inspiron 8000). Now, let’s see…. a bit of background. Mandriva (Mandrive/Mandrake) has been my favorite distro since converting to linux several years back (around Mandrake 8.1 or 8.2) I’ve had it running on the laptop since then and was up to 10.1 official (if I remember correctly). The last upgrade I did, I just setup the install sources in urpmi and did urpmi –auto-select –auto from the command line and off it went. In short order I had a fresh upgraded system. Today was not to be so smooth.

“But I thought linux was perfect, without flaw, etc…” well, no. Upgrade installs can be messy and laptops can be messy. But I had seen good reviews of this release and the installation working quite well, so away I started.

I had my Powerpack iso’s on an external hard drive (Downloaded via bittorrent when the club officially released powerpack downloads for silver members). I had the boot cd from the first iso extracted and burned to disc and ready and booted up from it. I selected the external hard drive (usb) as the install source and then was asked the path to the iso’s or the name of the first iso. I didn’t recall the name and just pressed enter. Fortunately I had moved them from the directory I had downloaded them in, to the root directory of the hard drive, or I would have had to do some searching. (A browse feature might be nice in the installer here.)

Anyway, things seemed to kickstart well and the installer loads (I selected all languages because I enjoy playing around with the language internationalizations to help me with an “immersive” experience for the few languages I know and try to brush up on from time to time.) Anyway, away it goes to upgrade the existing install. At this point things looked good and I switched to the detailed information I can get from the console (Ctrl-alt-f3 gives the package install progress in good detail)… For instance…

“opened rpm database for transaction of 13 new packages still 1274 after that to do”

followed by a list of rpm’s currently being installed

(Yes that’s a lot, I’ve got all sorts of devel packages and the internationalizations installed, so it is a long list.)

Ctrl-Alt-f7 takes you back to the gui installer summary. (Sometimes the update of display takes a few moments in package install mode.) Later I glanced back at the package install summary and saw quite a few errors. This was my first hint things were not going well. Ultimately the installer crashed and I tried rebooting.

Just an aside at this point. One of the things I LOVE about linux is the potential it gives the user to dig themselves out of problem situations. On reboot. I got no X, just the console login. So, I get in and find no networking, no package sources in urpmi…. so… I start looking at what I do have. Lynx… ok, I configure networking, fire up lynx and visit from there I configure a mirror for the main and contrib sources. (Wouldn’t it be nice if the easyurpmi script gave a little textfile download with the commands to run??? pasting didn’t seem to be working for me so I had to type it out.) Soon, I was typing urpmi –auto-select and seeing a LONG list of736 packages that had not yet been updated. I left the laptop sucking files from ftp while I took the external hard drive to the desktop to figure out what went wrong.

Here’s another aside…. I remember seeing failed Windows installs and frankly the only choice you had was to wipe and restart. You just didn’t have many choices. Linux is…. like on the a-team when the bad guys would always lock them up in a garage full of useful tools and stuff…. it has possibilities…. ok… 80′s tv reference out of the way….

Anyway…. on the desktop I start looking at the iso’s (md5sum is your friend). It turns out I made one of the first basic mistakes of any download/install software. I hadn’t verified the downloads. Now, I thought bittorrent had done that for me, obviously something there had gone wrong because the md5sum of cd1 did NOT match the md5sum saved in the file that came with it.

md5sum can be run like this…

md5sum –check filethathasmd5sums.txt

and can save you PAIN AND TROUBLE….. I usually just do md5sum download.iso and then cat the txt file with md5sums for a visual comparison, but the above should be better.

So, now that I know what went wrong I’ve redownloaded cd1 (not using bittorrent this time). The others were fine, but I couldn’t get bittorrent to get through the filecheck mode to try to redownload a chunk. Also, I’m verifying all the other iso’s…. the first 4 now are good, on to 5-7 before I try a second roll at the official installer.

In retrospect…. I’ve seen many a person complain in the newsgroups about “Mandrake xxx is broken” how do the release this ???? it doesn’t work/etc… I found long ago that even with a good download (md5sum ok), sometimes a “too fast burn to disc” would bring errors into the process. So it might even be a good idea to md5sum your cd after burning.

Here’s an example from

[root@server /root]# md5sum
- or -
[root@server /root]# diff /dev/cdrom image.iso
- or -
[root@server /root]# mount /mnt/cdrom;
[root@server /root]# mount -t iso9660 iso.image /mnt/isotest -o loop;
[root@server /root]# diff -r /mnt/cdrom /mnt/isotest
- or -
[root@server /root]# md5sum /dev/cdrom >md5sum-cdrom.txt
[root@server /root]# md5sum image.iso >md5sum-file.txt

#Script to verify the md5sum results:
echo “Verifying MD5SUMS:”
cat $MD5SUM1 | while read CODE NAME; do
if [ -n "`cat $MD5SUM2 | grep $CODE`" ]; then
echo “Success: $NAME”
echo “Failure: $NAME”

One point to make is that md5sum of a cd iso can take a few minutes. I’ve had several things going on and ~10 minutes or so has been about par for each iso. Now, to return to the Mandriva upgrade on the inspiron. I COULD just let urpmi do all the work and rebuild the system that way. I am going to let the GUI installer run again though. From what I understand, you will not have some of the newer features if you just upgrade from urpmi. (It makes sense, urpmi just looks at what is installed and upgrades those packages to the newest version, the installer would know to ADD a new package or remove an old one.)

More soon.

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