A hardware failure finally pushed me to move my nearly 10 year old “server” to more modern equipment. It had been both my workhorse for serving Apache and Plone, but had also hosted a variety of Web mail applications and a couple of Joomla CMS sites. But the Dell Optiplex finally had repetitive motherboard failures [Poke] and while I was refreshing the hardware, I took the opportunity to refresh the software as well. Here are some notes on my transition from Debian Etch (4) up to Ubuntu 9.1.
No Bootable Ubuntu Partition
It went pretty smoothly once I loaded Ubuntu 9 from a CD. The PC is an IBM Thinkcentre with a pretty slim chassis. At first, I could not get the Ubuntu CD to install and it seemed to be a CD drive issue. I finally was able to install using an attached drive, but I have a strong suspicion it was the CD rather than the drive, for reasons I’ll explain. I also tried the 8.04 LTS installation CD I had made earlier, but got strange errors including
Once I installed Ubuntu 9.1, I restarted the computer and could not boot. The error message was
1962 No operating system found
I reinstalled again, same issue. It was clear that whatever partition I installed to, it was not bootable. I don’t know if this was caused by how the drive was provided – no OS, just Command.com.
In any event, I took my Windows XP OS installation CD and installed it, going through an NTFS partitioning of the whole hard disk. Then, when it rebooted (and before it started, keeping my licensing conscience clear!), I restarted the Ubuntu installer CD. When I selected to install Ubuntu across the entire hard disk, replacing the Windows partitions, it worked perfectly.
Moving an LVM2 Partition to Ubuntu
This was not a particularly adventurous issue but new to me. I had a hard disk with Debian Etch and all my files on it. I wanted to have it available for a short time but most of my data already resided on my network-attached storage. I connected it to the SATA cable and Ubuntu could see it. But I could not mount the partition with my data on it.
The main partition was an Ext3 but the data was on an LVM2 (logical volume manager) partition. I first had to install the lvm2 application on Ubuntu, and then was able to export, then import, and then mount the drive. [Unfortunately, I cannot find the page that walked me through this process, but it is not difficult.]
Once mounted, I could access all of my old files. This was only a temporary measure – and to forestall having to reach into my backup – and then I was able to reboot and pack away that drive for safe keeping.
It is hard to pinpoint what is better about Ubuntu 9 over Debian. I have used the Ubuntu Netbook remix before so am comfortable with the user interface. I like it better than Debian Etch, but one gets comfortable with what one knows. One important component was the ability to integrate it into my Windows network. Samba is not installed by default, as far as I can tell, and neither is the GUI management tool. But once I had installed both, it reappeared on my Administration menu and I could add the necessary shares for my other Windows machines.