Thursday, January 3, 2013

converting Ubuntu to Xubuntu

[UPDATED 2012-05-13] The real fix for the apport-checkresume bug is to purge, clean and reinstall.

I have an old Compaq/HP laptop that I've been running Ubuntu on since Oneiric Ocelot (11.10). Unfortunately a pop up informed me that upgrading to Quantal Quetzal (12.10) wasn't recommended - Unity 2D isn't supported going forward, and the drivers for the ATI graphics in the Compaq/HP laptop don't support 3D acceleration.

Since Xubuntu doesn't use Unity, and I had no problem upgrading a VM on a similarly old Dell laptop also with an ATI graphics card, I decided to convert my machine to Xubuntu. For those unfamiliar with  Xubuntu, it is Canonical Ubuntu with an XFCE desktop, based on X11.

What follows are the steps, blunders, fixes and resources I used/followed to convert my system from Unity to xfce.
  1. Install xubuntu-desktop. I did this from the Ubuntu-Software-Center, but you could easily type sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop in a terminal.
  2. Remove ubuntu-desktop and unity. You will get some ugly warnings.
  3. If you restart now, you may get the dreaded "low graphics mode". So while you still can, edit /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf so that the greeter is lightdm-gtk-greeter. If you do get stuck in "low graphics mode" never fear, just hit CTRL-ALT-F2 to get a terminal and type your username and password. Then you can use sudo nano /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf to edit the config file and then  use sudo reboot and all should be well.
  4. Remove any remain unity packages. Here are some posts to follow:

Epilogue: So I was able to completely convert my old laptop successfully and upgrade to Quantal, but I did have to run these commands to push through the installation.
sudo dpkg --configure -a
sudo apt-get -f upgrade
You make also experience issues/crashes when your system resumes from suspend. Examining the detail may show the offender as apportcheckresume [1, 2, 3, 4], which is ironic, because this is the bug reporting app, and it is causing the bug, because it can't resume from suspend. I can confirm that purging apport, cleaning your repo database and reinstalling apport fixes this issue.

sudo apt-get purge apport
sudo apt-get autoremove
sudo apt-get clean
sudo apt-get install apport

Good luck and enjoy!

P.S., I was able to compare my converted Xubuntu setup with an iso installed Xubuntu, which gave me a way to check as I went along which packages should be removed.

P.P.S., synaptic and deborphan are good tools to use to clean up orphans and broken dependencies, sudo apt-get autoremove will do something similar. Although synaptic seems to resolve dependencies differently than Ubuntu-Software-Center, it has saved my ass more than once.

P.P.P.S., I suppose as an alternate to lightdm you could install gdm, but it seems like more work, and it is not the default display manager for Xubuntu.


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