I'm in the process of reviving my old Compaq Presario 700AE laptop. Yes, it's very old, but that shouldn't be a problem for a modern Linux distribution like Ubuntu Linux. However, I only had an Edgy CD at hand, no empty CD-R's and a hell of a lot of time. So I decided to upgrade Edgy all the way to Intrepid, passing Feisty, Gutsy and Hardy in between.
First problem I encountered was the fact that neither Edgy nor Feisty are part of the common mirrors. It took me some time, but eventually I found the old-releases.ubuntu.com mirror from Ubuntu, which, as the name kind of suggests, contained all the old releases. So I needed to edit /etc/apt/sources.list and change all the references to "us.archive.ubuntu.com" to "old-releases.ubuntu.com". Thank god for vim's regex replace:
Then an apt-get update and a apt-get dist-upgrade. Now I had the most recent Edgy release. Next change in the sources.list:
Again, apt-get update followed by apt-get dist-upgrade. Prepare to wait a while, after downloading about 600M of packages, it took the machine almost 2 hours to install them all. Besides some errors about the Network Manager and a cross in the menu instead of a link to Evolution, everything seemed to have gone correct. I didn't try to actually use anything else on the laptop, though. I assumed that during the updates, things would get broken and fixed again. We'll see how everything works at the end of it all.
With Feisty installed, I rebooted and everything seemed to go well. On to Gutsy. Again, editing the sources.list:
But als the file /etc/apt/sources.list.d/prerequists-sources.list. Not sure if every Feisty has this one, I tried upgrading from the Ubuntu tools first, but that failed. That process might have created this file. Anyway, if you have it, you need to change feisty into gutsy in there too. Next, the upgrade again: apt-get update followed by and apt-get dist-upgrade. Again it needs to download about 600M, but installation seems to take a lot longer. I have no idea why that's the case.
There were some issues during the installation. For example, scrollkeeper seemed to be rebuilding the docs for over 20 minutes, after which I ctrl+c'ed it. I have no idea what caused this, though. The app f-spot seemed to have the same trouble. A little later, I got a scary glibc error telling me about how the app scrollkeeper-update seemed to have a corrupted double-linked list. The setting up of sound-juicer and tomboy also took longer than I was willing to wait for.
After this first apt-get dist-upgrade was done, I got a list of 38 apps that weren't completely installed. When I looked through the list, it looked mainly to be desktop apps. I tried to do an apt-get dist-upgrade again, to see if it would be fixed this time around. I got some parsing errors this time, about parsing /var/lib/scrollkeeper/es/scrollkeeper_extended_cl.xml, but it continued after that like normal. So I guess I was too impatient on the first try. It took about 30 minutes in total, which is okay, I guess.
Another reboot later and I had a working Gutsy. Yay! No strange errors while loading the desktop this time and all links seemed to be working. Again I tried the Ubuntu supplied tool for upgrading to Hardy, but it seemed to stall while downloading the first to components (the ones that are supposed to guide me through the upgrade process). For some reason, once I clicked cancel, it did continue, however. This is a way nicer way of upgrading, though, so I decided to stick with it. It seemed to work for the time being and I got nice progress indicators. Another 600M to download, of course.
A little over two hours later, the laptop reboots into Hardy Heron, which gave me some headaches. First boot didn't even get very far. There were no obvious messages why it didn't want to boot, so I pressed a few buttons and it did continue. However, the result was an unusable system with / mounted in ro mode. I thought, "Shit, there goes all my work", but tried a reboot anyway. This time without the Cisco Aironet 350 card inserted into the PCMCIA slot and that worked. Not sure if that's because of the PCMCIA card, though.
After I got the desktop, the default Software Update app didn't show me the latest new version, Intrepid Ibex. I had to enable "Normal releases" in the Software Sources tool. After that, however, everything went back to normal. I noticed a button that told me I could upgrade to the newest version of Ubuntu, 8.10, I pressed it and it continued on, downloading again.
While waiting, I installed Intrepid from and ISO on my Parallels Desktop VM. So that at least I can compare dpkg -l output's from a fresh install to this upgraded install.
The upgrade from Hardy to Intrepid was another 2 hours, about. But then the trouble started. First of all, the Network Manager didn't do what I expected. Now, I might be a retard, but I wanted it to simply keep my previous settings. It was not meant to be. I had to reset all the settings, apparantly, because it kept showing me the icon for the network with a warning triangle in it.
Adding a new wired network setting didn't seem to change much, I was unable to active it and there's no obvious method of activating it anyway. So I tried the Cisco Aironet 350...
Well, that's when I learned that this card, which I once bought for it's outstanding Linux support, needs a firmware upgrade to enable WPA connection encryption. And the firmware upgrade tools only works on Windows. Darn it.
Tomorrow I'm going to try to install Windows XP in the VirtualBox VM and see if I can upgrade the PCMCIA card from there. Hoping for the best...