Ubuntu 10.04 Upgrade: Best Practices Checklist

Have you been thinking about upgrading your computer to Ubuntu 10.04? I recently made the leap, at the prompting of my Update Manager. The process went fairly smoothly, but I did have to deal with a couple of minor annoyances. Since you never know exactly what may happen when you decide to upgrade, here are a few tips to get you started.

1. Always back up your important data in advance: Depending on your needs, you might use an external USB hard drive or you might burn your data to DVDs. I prefer to use a continuous, online backup service such as CrashPlan, Jungle Disk, or ZumoDrive. CrashPlan is nice because you can use it to back up your data to your own (or to a friend's) computer for free.

2.Keep a Linux live CD on hand: In case anything goes wrong with your upgrade, a Linux live CD will give you an easy way to boot up, get online, and find a solution to your problem.

3. Don't jump on the first release: Ubuntu recommends waiting until the '.1' release of any version increment before upgrading production systems. In plain English, that means you might be better off resisting the temptation to upgrade to Ubuntu 10.04 and instead holding out for the arrival of Ubuntu 10.1 before you upgrade. By that time, most of the bugs should be squashed and the rough edges smoothed out.

4. Find a nearby download server: Upgrading over the network can take several hours as all the files are downloaded. Sometimes heavy server traffic can slow the download considerably. To avoid unnecessary slowdowns, select System, Administration, Software Sources, Ubuntu Software, Download from, and choose a download server that's located relatively near you.

5. Treat proprietary graphics card drivers with caution: Proprietary graphics card drivers may cause upgrade problems. For example, I use an ATI Sapphire graphics card with ATI's proprietary driver because it works better for me than Ubuntu's open-source driver. The ATI graphics card driver will break, so you should remove it prior to upgrading to Ubuntu 10.04. A simple way to remove the driver is to go to the folder named '/usr/share/ati' and delete the driver there. Then open Synaptic and install three packages: 'fglrx', 'fglrx-amdcccle', and ' xorg-driver-fglrx'. After you've completed your Ubuntu upgrade, you can reinstall the proprietary ATI graphics driver.

6. Choose a theme that appeals to you: Ubuntu 10.04 has a new default theme that I don't like. If you experience a similar clash of aesthetic preferences, you can easily replace the default item by selecting System, Preferences, Appearance, and selecting a different theme. I prefer Clearlooks. While you're at it, why not pick a wallpaper (Background) or change your Visual Effects?

7. Initiate the upgrade process: To do this, select System, Administration,Update Manager. Click the Check button to check for new updates. If any updates are available for installation, click the Install Updates button to install them, and then click Check once again after that installation is complete. A message will appear informing you of the availability of the new release. Click Upgrade, and follow the on-screen instructions.

Here are some useful resources to consult if you need additional guidance:

UpgradeNotes [Community Ubuntu Documentation]

Installation & Upgrades [Ubuntu Forums]

BackupYourSystem [Community Ubuntu Documentation]

How to Easily Install Ubuntu Linux on Any PC [PCWorld]

Canonical's Desktop Linux OS Gets New Look and Feel [PCWorld]

You can minimize the effect of heavy network traffic on your download time by connecting to a server that's located near you. To do so, first select 'System', 'Administration', 'Software Sources'... [continued on next screen].

After selecting 'System', 'Administration', 'Software Sources' (as discussed in the previous screen), continue by selecting 'Ubuntu Software', 'Download from'; then choose a download server that's located relatively near you.

To select a new theme, go to 'System', 'Preferences', 'Appearance', and choose one you like.

To initiate the upgrade process, select 'System', 'Administration', 'Update Manager'.

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