Monday, November 2, 2009

Don't read this it's incredibly boring

Installing Ubuntu 9.10 (Netbook Remix) on my Dell Mini 10v (Live Report on first try)

First hurdle was that the download is an iso, rather than a flash image file.

It turns out that there's a program usb-creator-gtk which does the conversion.
Originally that failed to work for me, claiming that my usb drive needed formatting, but then doing nothing when I pressed the format button.
Eventually I tried formatting the USB disk myself, and it still didn't seem to work, until suddenly it did. Sigh.

It's now taking a while to write all the data to the flash drive.

Transferred flash drive to netbook.


Wow, it's taking ages to start up!

Now it wants a login! (As user ubuntu. What am I supposed to type? ubuntu fails. blank succeeds)

It's very pretty!

But there's no wireless connection. This is sub-optimal for a netbook.

After a while a message pops up to say that restricted drivers are available. There's a choice of two. Broadcom b43 and Broadcom STA. I don't understand the difference. Choose Broadcom STA because that rings a bell.

Ha! Now it tells me that I need to restart the computer in order to use this driver. Have I installed Windows by mistake?

I can already see an infinite loop forming, but I'll take it at its word and reboot it.

Well, it's been two minutes now and its not rebooted. Just sitting there with a little ubuntu logo pulsing slowly. Talk to me. What are you doing? Are you dead?

Alt-Ctrl-F1 has no effect at all. I'm beginning to suspect kernel death.

Suddenly the screen goes blank. Is this life?

After five minutes I give up. Alt-SysRq-B produces a reboot, though, so there must have been something in there.

Now its in its just sitting there pulsing mode again.

Five minutes later.

It's totalled! It's gone into some mad infinite loop, endlessly scrolling text too fast to read about bugs in the D-Bus library.

Well, after a bit of staring, what it's saying, over and over again, is:

This is normally a bug in some application call using the D-Bus library.
process 2039: arguments to dbus_pending_call_set_notify() were incorrect, assertion "pending != NULL" failed in file dbus-pending-call.c line 596 .

Ah, Alt-SysRq I has stopped the screen. Apparently it was process 2839. Silly me.

Try again:

Same result. Mad scrolling. Same error. Hmmm.

So far, this has taken one hour.

Was I just lucky the first time, or has the bloody thing actually tried to modify the boot disk in order to get this driver working and corrupted itself?

The md5sum on the iso file is correct. I'll try to remake the USB stick.

Weirdly the md5sum on the desktop iso is wrong. But I'm sure I didn't use that by mistake since I got the funny interface on first boot. As I say, it was pretty while it lasted.

Okay, I've remade the USB stick. On the ubuntu initial boot screen, there was something called 'check integrity of disc' It wasn't clear whether that meant my hard drive, or the USB stick, but I tried it anyway. Much pulsing of the little logo I am beginning to hate. Why won't they just tell me what's going on?

But the light on the USB drive is flashing steadily, so there must be some sort of check going on.

Okay, check finished, all fine, try again.

This is better, a nice ubuntu waking up noise, and the pretty screen again.

I am not going to fall for this 'installing Broadcom drivers thing again'.

So I've plugged it into the wall, but I'm now blogging from the netbook rather than from my desktop! Yay!

And I must say I'm fairly impressed so far. They've fixed the touchpad, which didn't work very well in 9.04.

When I got to, firefox wanted to install a flash player, and I thought 'what the hell, it's not going to actually write to disk'. It then asked me if I wanted to enable the universe and multiverse repositories. I said yes, but then it failed.

OK, when the little box came up I gave in to temptation and enabled the other wireless driver, b43.

And this one hasn't demanded a reboot.

I'll save this post and then pull the network cable and see what happens.

Well, that didn't work. Pulling the cable just disconnected me.Plugged it back in now.

Camera works. Sound output works. Internet Radio works. Sound recording does not work.

Well, I am sufficiently happy to try installing it.

The installer so far seems very impressive, and I'm very impressed that I can keep using the computer while it's running. I wonder at what point it will actually disconnect from blogger.

I've set it up to obliterate the previous installation of 9.04, which was unsatisfactory in many ways. I never used it, preferring to use the Dell version of 8.04, which is actually pretty good once you turn off the Dell interface.

I want to try the 'require my password to encrypt my home folder' option, and I'm setting setup to import two of the three accounts on the Dell 8.04 installation, just to see what happens.

Nothing like putting it through its paces.

And off it goes. A slideshow is showing and things are being copied as I type.

Hmm, after a few minutes an error box pops up, something about devkit-disks-daemon crashing. That doesn't sound good at all. It asks if it can report the problem to base and I say yes.

However, there's now nothing going on. I imagine that's not good. I wonder if my little system is still bootable? Only one way to find out.

Wait.... The light on the flash drive is going. Is it still installing? Or is it firefox related?

top doesn't seem to think there's anything going on.

Just out of devilment, I'll try running the installer again.

It seems to work, repartitions the disks, starts to go through its slideshow, and then crashes. Only this time it's 'ubiquity' crashing, which is presumably the installer.

Repeat once again to make sure. Ubiquity crashes again.

It's been two hours since I started this.

I'm back to blogging from the desktop.

Now the netbook won't boot off the flash drive again.

These people have actually managed to create an installer that can destroy itself.

For minutes there's just that fucking pulsing ubuntu symbol.

Then it goes to a text screen, obviously in the middle of a very distressed init.
All sorts of file system errors scroll past, and the whole thing ends when it says initiating crypto disks [OK], and crashes.

Needless to say, if I bypass the USB disk, the netbook will not boot, because one of the installs has obviously got far enough along to destroy the master boot record.

I'm getting angry now. This isn't a little bug caused by incompatible hardware.
For that matter Dell sell 10vs in partnership with Canonical, so if they were going to test it anywhere it should have been on one of these.

This is just rank bloody incompetence. What a bunch of muppets.

I'm now in the situation where I can't boot my netbook in any way. I really don't want to start trying to use the remains of this flash drive to try to fix the problem, because I honestly don't trust it not to destroy my original 8.04 Dell version.

I'm going to find a version of 9.04 and burn that to my flash drive. That wasn't great, but I don't remember the installer itself being fucked up.

I think ubuntu and I might be through. The 8.04 version Dell supplied is great. But I don't think I'm at all keen on letting anyone who can write an installer as cripplingly rubbish as this mess about with any computer I care about.

Alright, calmed down a bit now. Did get as far as the 9.04 flash disk, but it's obviously the same installer. Maybe asking for encrypted disks is the problem.

Will try again with utterly vanilla version.


  1. I'm interested in something you wrote there.
    Pass the infinitely looping D-Bus errors messages, you said you got back to normal when you did a new copy. Did you download the file again, or did you just remake a bootable disk from the same .iso image? Reason why I am asking is because the first time I ran that beast, it worked and went to a logon screen, but i was in class, and I didn't do anything there.
    Every other time, all i get is the D-Bus assertion NULL errors...
    I've tried this on two computers: an Aspire One netbook and a Dual-Core HP ProBook (I was getting impatient with that pulsing logo with no feedback thing)...
    Aside from the speed difference - obviously i get to the errors faster in the HP notebook than on the netbook -, it fails miserably on both and I never got to a desktop...
    Did you remember using some specific boot settings once or something?
    And oh, recreated the BootDrive from the .iso does not change the symptoms at all, leaving me stumped; and the integrity check passed...

  2. Hi. I don't know if you're ever going to read this or not, but anyways: I've used a program called unetbootin in the past, and that worked out great for me; perhaps you could try that and see if it works out?