Ubuntu feels my wrath


I have a fairly modern high-spec Intel Core 2 Duo PC with 2Gb of RAM and enough hard disk space to take a family holiday in, so I thought I would give the latest incarnation of Ubuntu a chance to stretch it’s legs. Well I’ve been using openSUSE 10.x on my work laptop for some time now, and thought playing with another flavour of Linux would broaden my horizons. What follows is a lesson in how to burn a few hours of your life away in a completely unproductive manner.

I started by downloading the latest Ubuntu ‘distro’ (the Linux community love their lingo) for AMD/Intel 64-bit architectures, and burning it to CD. My PC has 3 SATA drives in it, two 500Gb ones on which XP is installed on the first, and a 640Gb one I use as a data store and backup. The plan was to install Ubuntu to the second 500Gb drive in a dual-boot setup. I say plan, because Ubuntu had other ideas! 53% into the install process it complained … Failed to copy files; faulty CD/DVD or hard disk? I repeated the exercise, this time running the optional Ubuntu media check feature which came up clean, and boosted by this message I repeated the install. Same problem. So I threw away the CD and burned it again. Repeated the media check. Ok. Restarted the install. Same problem. So my next move was to re-download the 700Mb image from a different source (not something that’s quick to do). I burned a fresh CD, same problem. I threw that CD away and burned a new one using the slowest speed setting on my CD burner. Media check ok – re-install. Same problem. So I threw that disk away, opened a fresh box of blank CDs from a different supplier and burned the original image at slow speed. Another successful media check by Ubuntu, restarted the install. Same problem. I also downloaded the i386 version and tried that. Same problem. I tried moving the partitions around during configuration. Same problem.

At this point I started searching Google for the I/O error message I was experiencing. I quickly learned from a variety of posts by hapless users that if you dare suggest it’s a fault with the Ubuntu install routine then some Linux enthusiasts (while generally helpful and fun-loving chaps) will not take kindly to you, and by that I mean they’ll set fire to your head and then jump on your grave. However I did find one or two useful pointers that might suggest the problem is down to less-than-perfect memory modules. Ahh, just so happens I have two new 1Gb modules of the correct speed/type sitting in a box, so I carefully removed both 1Gb modules from the PC and replaced them with the new ones. You know what’s coming next…. same problem!

Ok, it must be the CD burner itself, and guess what – I have a brand new SATA CD/DVD burner just waiting to be used. Trying both images, fresh CDs, slow burn speeds and successful media checks, I was no further forward. Next on the list … the hard drive. Using a bootable hard disk utility CD I checked the drive but found no errors. I even booted the machine into Windows, wiped the drive and having reformatted it to NTFS, ran checkdisk but again found no errors. Finally I loaded SpeedFan and checked all the S.M.A.R.T. diagnostics for the drive which came out as 100% healthy. Nevertheless, I pulled a 500Gb SATA drive out of an external enclosure I’d built and replaced the one I’d been using thus far. And… wait for it… SAME PROBLEM!

So, I’ve changed the image, the CDs, the burn speeds, the memory modules, the partition layouts during setup, the CD/DVD drive and the hard disk and still Ubuntu refuses to install on this PC. I consumed numerous hours of my weekend in the futile pursuit of trying to get Ubuntu Hardy Heron 8.04 to run on my PC. What else can I do? Well quite frankly – nothing! No-one should have to go through this much pain and effort just to load an OS. Maybe it’s some obscure BIOS setting that needs to be changed, but I’m not going there. I’m ok with OpenSuSE but I am so sick of looking at those beige Ubuntu install screens that if I so much as sniff a heron in the vicinity I’d probably shoot it! Ok… I don’t own a gun and we don’t have heron in these parts, but you get my drift.

I just wish you could install Mac OS X Leopard on a PC. No I’m not talking about bootcamp or those ‘hacked’ versions of OS X that I’m sure are very clever, I mean the proper thing… on any old (ok reasonably modern) PC hardware. But then if I was Apple, I wouldn’t be interested in making that happen. Imagine the support problems, and what the infinite variety of hardware permutations out there would do for OS X’s reliability image! We’ve got Windows for that.

Postscript – I just installed openSUSE 10.3 on my PC. Where Ubuntu choked (repeatedly!), openSUSE installed first time without any problems. Sort of defeated the object though, which was to look at a different Linux package.

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6 Responses

  1. Alright, man, you got some seriously sweet resources as I can get from your post, but you just got it all over your head.

    I just recently installed Hardy Heron on a really low spec computer, than Xubuntu Hardy on an even older laptop, NO PROBS.

    I have to say, if you went through all of this just to get somethign free running, and for no real reason as it seems, you have some things to think about. Was it worth it? Don’t blame them, if there is a problem, alright, but you took it too far trying to solve it and now you’re being a little to destructive.

    I mean, the idea of “broadening your horizont” is nice, but this is a little to much don’t you think?

    I like my ubuntu and won’t go back to windows for nothing except games.
    Keep it up!

  2. You’re absolutely right, and re-reading my original post a couple of days later I am feeling more mellow about it. When it comes to computers I get obsessed with getting things working and often put in more effort than is reasonable. It’s my own fault I went so far, but it did puzzle me later that openSUSE installed first time while Ubuntu refused no matter what I did on that PC.

    I like openSUSE as the package support for it is really good, but I’m still keen to see why Ubuntu is the number one version of Linux, and may try it on an older PC I have when I get the time. Part of my interest in computers is in how the various operating systems work, and most likely it’s just the GUI that separates openSUSE from Ubuntu, so I’d agree with you over ‘was it worth the effort’. I am lucky in that I have a new-ish PC, a slightly older one, plus a Mac Pro to ‘play’ with, but then I don’t own a car which probably helps save the money!

    As for Windows, one day I love it the next day I hate it. It has it’s place but it’ll never be my mainstream platform either – just too many headaches keeping it sweet!

  3. I ran into same trouble that Robin had. Tried various things like Robin but not as exhaustive and it looks the problem is not going away.

    So I am giving up on it after two days worth of my time.

    But I do plan to come back some day.

  4. you should have tried Ubuntu 7.10 instead. I also had numerous problems with 8.04 and guess what, none of those problems exist in my 7.10 PC that im using right now. I’m kinda waiting for the next release to see if the problem in 8.04 have been fixed.

  5. I had exactly the same problems with both Ubuntu 8.04 and Kubuntu 8.04.

    I finally got an install to work by having an active network cable plugged in – it seemed that the OS went looking for some stuff off mirrors and/or repositories and eventually installed ok.

    Hope that helps, I wasted about 6 hours here.

  6. :.* I am very thankful to this topic because it really gives up to date information `:’

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