Ubuntu Gutsy: complaints

(posting to planet in the hopes that some kind soul has a clue what’s going on)

So most eyes these days seem to be firmly focused on that other operating system release, but I want to talk about Gutsy for a bit. A few nights ago I updated my machine to it, and there are quite a few new problems, and also quite a few old ones that are still not fixed.

Update 2007-10-31: Most of the below is now fixed. For explanations, see the comments at the bottom of this post.

  • [FIXED] Somehow whenever I boot, my system believes it’s necessary to make my harddisk churn continuously. It didn’t use to do this on Feisty, I have a gig of RAM on this machine and am only running a webbrowser and Gnome Terminal, so I doubt my ‘extreme use’ is the cause of it all. System Monitor manages to tell me that udevd is eating CPU, at least (I can’t figure out how to monitor harddisk activity). “man udevd” seems to be telling me “it could be anything telling me what to do, I’m just a humble event daemon”. So no clue where that’s coming from.
  • [FIXED] I can’t mount my other partitions anymore. Windows has no trouble finding them though, and Feisty had always been fine with them. The three partitions in question are formatted using NTFS (1) and FAT32 (2). Running “sudo mount /winC” manually gets me:

    fuse: mount failed: Device or resource busy
    FUSE mount point creation failed
    Unmounting /dev/sda1 ()
  • [FIXED] Somehow I now have a huuuge submenu “Other” in my Applications menu, containing things varying from “Browser Identification” to “Zeroconf Service Detection” to “Fonts” (twice) to “AdBlocK Filters” (To my knowledge, I’ve never installed this) to “Joystick” (I don’t have a joystick). This didn’t use to be there on Feisty, either. It doesn’t seem to serve any purpose whatsoever. Why did it pop up?
  • [PROBABLY FIXED] It seems to believe that, if there is still a cd(-rom) left in the drive, using the Eject button on my cd/dvd-rom drive really means I want it to show me how fast it can open and close the drive in succession. I’ve almost lost a cd like this, and have no clue where to look for info on why it behaves like this. It shouldn’t have any reason to keep the disk in there – it’s not writable, so there are no writes left so unmounting should be quick and painless (and even if it weren’t, it should keep the drive shut tight, instead of being all weird about it).
  • [POSSIBLY FIXED] GRUB sucks, or Ubuntu’s use of it sucks. Whenever I update this machine, it adds two boot entries for the new kernel (one is ‘normal’, one is “Recovery Mode”). It doesn’t remove old entries. If I remove entries manually, they reappear the next time the kernel is updated. I have edited menu.lst to boot my windows install by default. Whenever these two entries get added, the default boot index is off-by-two, causing it to start memtest86 if I’m not at the machine to correct it. Why is it smart enough to remember the value I set it to, but not smart enough to update it when it changes the list?
  • This machine is slightly over two years old. Ubuntu is still not able to shut it down correctly – I always have to press and hold the power button for five seconds after I hear the harddrive shut off (without Ubuntu telling me “you can now turn your machine off” – it seems to think this will happen automagically). Back when I just got this machine, I installed debian stable on it (I believe that was Sarge, back then, but I’m not sure). It never had a problem with this (nor does Windows). So clearly it’s not just that it’s not possible, but that Ubuntu somehow isn’t using the right version/type of acpi or whatever. This machine has an ASUS P5AD2-E motherboard, if that is any help.

All in all this means I really don’t want to use Ubuntu anymore, as it’s downright painful to get anything done (without access to my windows partitions, most of my documents, patches, photos and other personal things are out of reach, and with my computer busy with some invisible SomeThing, getting other work done becomes painfully slow, too). Solutions appreciated. 🙁

15 thoughts on “Ubuntu Gutsy: complaints

  1. just on the third point about the “other” submenu…i’m a complete ubuntu noob, only installed it under virtualpc for testing, but unless i’m mistaken that’s a side effect of installing konqueror, which lugs over a lot of the KDE stuff to run (which then ends up in “other”). i may, however, be completely off the mark here…

  2. About your grub problem:
    If you edit menu.lst there is somewhere a line like this:
    # howmany=all
    change it to
    # howmany=1
    (Or another amount of kernels)
    For the default kernel add the option “savedefault” on a seperate line beneath the options for your default choice and change the line
    default 0
    default saved

    Also about your mounting problems, I’ve had problems when using the ntfs-3g config tool, but manually editing the /etc/fstab file worked for me (as I said, I use ntfs-3g, which I think works pretty good for ntfs).

    Anyway, succes with finding solutions 🙂


  3. About the grub problem: why don’t you just remove the kernels completely using synaptic/apt-get/aptitude? If you don’t want to see them, you don’t want to use them, it seems. Why let them eat your not so expensive hdd space?

  4. Your disk is grinding because there is a new file indexer. It is reading every file on your disk to create the index. You can turn it off in the system menus, I removed it. The indexer makes finding a file on your disk by searching for a string inside it about 10,000 times faster than grep. I just remember where I left things.

    Look in /etc/fstab and see if there is something obvious in there preventing the partitions from mounting. I am able to mount similar partitions without problem.

  5. There’s always Fedora. At least it only keeps 2 copies of the kernel around (the current one, which you know works, and the new one.) As for your cdrom problem I’ve never seen a drive behave like that. That would drive me crazy too. Maybe try using ‘eject’ at a shell, and see what happens.

  6. Disk activity is probably caused by Trackerd. I turned it off: Systems > Administration > Services.

    I have also strange experiences with mount. After install I got all partitions mounted automatically. To make them go away I ended up hand editing /etc/fstab. I also don’t seem to be able to remount as normal user. If you have problems with NTFS partitions, you might want to try installing ntfsprogs.

    I also uninstall old kernels I don’t care about, so grub list is short.

  7. 1. most likely tracker indexing your hard disk. Tracker is new in Gusty, so after an upgrade, it naturally has to build its index. You can modify the indexing settings to reduce the load and remove it if you don’t want it.
    2. check your fstab for any obvious problem. My guess would some specific setup done for fiesty that turns out to be incompatible (as in it-works-fine-for-me-here).
    3. That’s because of kde packages installed on your system. Granted, it’s an error from ubuntu to show them that way.
    5. Other kernels shows up simply because you have other kernels installed on your machine. I fail to see a problem here, it actually makes a whole more sense this way. Imagine you compile your own kernel, test it and realize you set wrong kernel options that leads to the system not being able to mount the root partition. If it wasn’t for grub to list your old kernel(s), you’ll be screwed. Remove old kernels if you don’t need them anymore.
    6. You’re most likely missing ACPI. I’ve seen a few similar bugs with buggy BIOS on recent kernels. Other reason could be a module not unloading.

    All you problems can be quickly fixed with a bit a googling. give it a go.

  8. The Grub thing isn’t Grub at all. Ubuntu has the annoying habit to keep *all* kernel versions installed. You’ve got to remove the old ones with the package manager of your choice. The grub menu then will get recreated accordingly. This will free quite a bit of space as well and is the source of much pain for those of us with a rather small boot partition (which I admit usually simply isn’t necessary anymore, but I haven’t completely re-setup my desktop computer for years, only upgraded).

  9. The drive is probably taking the disc back because of auto‐mounting. Here, it is done by autofs, and happens, IIRC, when something is quering the mount point — like a file manager with / open, if is disc is mounted to /cdrom.

    I configured that manually, and on Debian, so don’t know how it is on Ubuntu; here a part of the configuration is in /etc/auto.misc, referenced from /etc/auto.default. Ubuntu (and Debian, had I used some default configuration during install…) is ought to have a GUI for that, dunno what is the right way to correct it.

  10. Everyone, thanks a lot!

    In order of appearance:

    • Tracker didn’t appear in the Services administration app for me. I told its own “Indexing preferences” that I didn’t want it to do anything. Disks still kept spinning so I killed it, and apt-get removed it. Disks were still spinning, so I tried the evms removal solution John mentioned. That helped. A lot. Thanks!
    • After the aforementioned changes and adding “apm=off acpi=force” to my grub default boot options (per ced’s suggestion to “google things”) to see if that’d convince it to shut down, I rebooted. After that magically my partitions were automounted again. Yay! (As a note, I did think about checking /etc/fstab – nothing was out of the ordinary there as far as I could tell – but I probably should have mentioned that in the original post already)
    • I used to have kubuntu-desktop installed here as well, when I was testing a patch for Firefox that was supposed to make windows blink in taskbars consistently on Linux… but I removed kubuntu-desktop and had assumed it would have been smart enough to remove everything else as well. Guess not. Clearing anything KDE I could find from Synaptic helped. Now it just has the “Printing notification icon” there, and I guess I will probably manage to get that to go away later today. So thanks for that one, Patrick and ced.
    • I’ve simply refrained from putting in cd-roms for now, and told the “Removable Drives and Media” preferences that I don’t want it to automatically play cd’s, dvd’s or other things – I do want them mounted though, so I’ve left that on and am not sure if this will be enough. Thanks Aleksej and db48x! (and as a side-note, the config files don’t exist on Ubuntu, after which I looked for UI 🙂
    • So I probably described the GRUB problem suboptimally. While I think that Fedora’s approach, per db48x’s comment, is superior to Ubuntu’s, I can somewhat see the logic of keeping kernels around. What I really had/have a problem with, though, is why it doesn’t update the default boot index if it adds new items. This is not rocket science. It is also nothing to do with backwards compatibility or “playing it safe” – not updating it simply means it boots the wrong thing. I’ve fixed it manually (again…). I found there is also an “updatedefaultentry” config var in menu.lst that by default seems to be set to false. I’ve set it to true in the hopes that it will save me next time around, but I’m wondering why it is set to false to begin with. If there is a reason, it most likely is that it doesn’t work as I expect it to… Anyway. Thanks Legolas, Harm, ced and Arthur for the comments. And yes, I’ve removed the old kernels now…
    • The shutdown problem is the only problem that remains fully unsolved. As said above, my menu.lst file for GRUB now reads:
      # defoptions=quiet splash apm=off acpi=force
      Not sure if I need to run update-grub over that. Maybe I should. Right now it doesn’t seem to have helped, though. ced, I’m not sure what you mean by “missing ACPI”. Ubuntu’s Services dialog claims both apmd and acpid are running. Windows and Debian did not have a problem using what I assume to be ACPI to shut the machine down without me touching the power button. Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
  11. Regarding ACPI, this is a problem on my laptop and using acpi=force fixes it. On bootup it tells me that acpi=force is needed to make acpi work so somehow it is detecting this. If you are not seeing that message then it may not be an acpi problem.
    I wonder if you boot off of the live CD if you can use the shut down button and get a normal shut down. If that is the case then it may not be a problem with Gutsy as a problem with the Feisty-to-Gutsy upgrade scripts making something not right.

  12. Re: Mounting – I had installed ntfs-config on Feisty. Uninstalling it on Gutsy + reboot fixed the lack of mounting of my USB drive & Windows partition

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