::upgrade vs. clean install–bad idea

5 11 2009

There’s a post on Slashdot today linking to an article from The Register, talking about how throngs of people are having difficulties upgrading from Ubuntu 9.04 to 9.10.  I’m a little surprised that the Register article has what I think is a very misleading title–Early Adopters Bloodied by Ubuntu’s Karmic Koala.

When you read into the article a bit, you quickly learn that the early adopters being referred to here are people who are doing inline upgrades using the Ubuntu Update Manager.  Personally, I can’t think of any time I’ve ever had a good experience that ended with a solid, glitch-free machine when doing an upgrade over a clean install.  I can’t think of a single good reason to do an upgrade over a clean install.  Not one.

There are reason, mostly incorrect, that people think they should do an upgrade over  a clean install from the CD.  Most often, people think they will lose their documents and settings, or that saving these will be a pain.  First off, if you have a separate /home partition, this is absolutely wrong.  And if you don’t have a separate /home partition, this is as good a time as any to save your stuff the old fashioned way one last time, and do an installtion with a /home partition. The other reason people don’t want to do a clean install is they don’t want to lose their apps.  There are very simple ways to document installed applications and then automatically install them on a freshly installed machine–I did it just a couple of days ago and it took 2 minutes of typing and then less than an hour to install everything.

I’m gonna go out on a limb and just say it:  upgrading an OS–any OS–instead of doing a clean installation is a stupid idea.  It takes longer, core functions break, you don’t get full the full functionality of the OS (in the case of Ubuntu 9.10, you don’t get the upgrade to GRUB 2.0) and some programs just don’t work right.  Ubuntu.com reports that an online upgrade takes about 2 hours on average, depending on your Internet connection speed.  By comparison, it takes less than 20 minutes from start to finish for an installation via CD, and that includes the scary process of manually setting the partitions that makes so many people opt to go for an online upgrade instead.

And on that subject, setting the partitions really isn’t that big of a deal.  The installer’s warning makes it seem like a very intimidating process, but it’s totally straight forward.  All you have to do is pay attention to what you’re doing.  If you already have a /home partition, the hardest part is setting the same partition to be /home, and making sure you don’t put a check mark in the format box.  If you’ve ever installed a Windows OS, you can install Ubuntu in less time and with no headaches.

Really.

kisses,

jimbo

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8 responses

8 11 2009
Roy

I have a dual boot with ubuntu and XP, how do I do a clean install of 9.10? If I insert the disk it wants to change partitions and keep 8.10.

9 11 2009
jimbo

When you get to the partitioner, you’ll leave your Windows installation intact and get rid of your exiting Ubuntu installation. Just as with your current setup using 9.04, one of the final installation steps is the setup of GRUB, the boot loader.

Ubuntu will detect your Windows installation and ask if you want to 1) have a boot menu so you can choose which OS you go to, and 2) which OS you want to load up by default.

9 11 2009
jimbo

Roy–

Replied to your question on my blog. Dunno if you’ll get notification or not.

kisses,

jimbo

9 11 2009
Roy

When you get to the partitioner, you’ll leave your Windows installation intact and get rid of your exiting Ubuntu installation.

The partitioner menu doesn’t seem to give me that choice, It gives me the option to add another partition with 9.10, but not to replace the 9.04 with 9.10.

9 11 2009
jimbo

Choose manual partitioning. leave your windows installation alone–you’ll be able to tell which partition is your windows partition by it being formatted either FAT32 or NTFS–and either delete the linux partitions and recreate them, or just format the linux partitions if you want to keep them the same size. If you have an existing /home partiition in linux, don’t format it.

16 11 2009
gpap

Hi, I did this for a friend due to lack of space in the system partition – I’m always up for the clean install as well.

I already had a /home partition which is left intact after the install but I am having problems creating the users under 9.10 with directories in the (intact) home partition. Is there a way around this or should I do it manually?

thanks

28 10 2010
MIke

I agree completely. A clean install is the best way.

9 03 2011
Ädamas

how did you do the “There are very simple ways to document installed applications and then automatically install them on a freshly installed machine–I did it just a couple of days ago and it took 2 minutes of typing and then less than an hour to install everything.”
i am on fedora 13.thank you.

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