A notebook that TLW uses was the last machine in our house to run Ubuntu GNU/Linux. Recently, it needed a software upgrade to a more recent release. Ubuntu reported the exact command that root had to issue and I did so. After gazillions of files had been installed some errors popped up. The process actually hung. I had to restart the upgrade twice more before it would complete. I installed Gimp, which she was missing, and a newer kernel and rebooted to complete the process. The damned thing would not boot! It could not mount the root file-system.
From the initramfs/busybox I discovered that the logical volume management was not working. It turned out this is an ancient problem of Ubuntu, not enabling the logical volume management after upgrading… and it’s still happening today… Unfortunately the system was still broken, despite the root file-system being mountable, and had no “init”. Upstart was on the drive but would not run. ARGHHH!!!
So, after all that, I still had a system broken as badly as TOOS (That Other OS) which was one of many things that drove me to use GNU/Linux in the first place. Oh, the irony! Thank you, Canonical, for making GNU/Linux more like TOOS with all your tweaks and customization and releases of broken software. [SARCASM!]
The solution was simple. I installed Debian GNU/Linux over top of the crapware. The only real problem with that was I could not find a USB-drive anywhere. I had “loaned” them all out to various ladies who come and go here so they could do “this and that”. Finally, I remembered that the MP3 player I often used while hiking or working in my classroom up North also functioned as a USB-drive. I copied onto it as root (dd if=debian-8.6.0-amd64-netinst.iso of=/dev/sd.. bs=1024k) a “net-install” image of the Debian-installer and booted the notebook from that. I also verified the download against its SHA512SUM (sha512sum debian-8.6.0-amd64-netinst.iso and grep … SHA512SUM). Worked like a charm. Further, there was a means to extricate the backup files from the notebook via a scripted web-server built in to Debian-installer. Cute.
The installation was flawless and the thing booted promptly into a working desktop. I used Ethernet for the connection during the installation because some firmware was missing for the wireless connection. No problem. I later installed firmware-brcm80211. It’s good to have options. I look forward to trouble-free computing on that machine and all our others. Thanks, Debian.