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made a major mistake with mintUpdate - any ideas?

Posted: Sun Nov 22, 2009 9:58 pm
by uilenspiegel
Hi all,

I've shot myself in the foot pretty badly and would be grateful for any suggestions about how to undo my error. (File this one under "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing")

Prelude to this story: I've been using Gloria for a few months. I'm very happy with it, but I'm also a first-time linux user, and, crucially, totally unfamiliar with the way version upgrades are handled. On with the story:

Yesterday I was hunting around for a good xml editor. I read some good things about xmlcopyeditor, so I tried to install the latest .deb release. The install failed because I didn't have the libxerces-c3.0 libraries, and synaptic only offered me libxerces-c2.8, so I was trying to figure out how to deploy the libxerces-c3.0 binaries and get them recognized by the xmlcopyeditor installer. (If someone knows the answer to this question I'd be glad to have it also, but my main problem is now a much bigger one.) I wasn't having any luck with that but happened on a page on the ubuntu support pages that indicated that libxerces-c3.0 was distributed as a universal package with Karmic, and then there were these fateful words:

(paraphrase) "You can install this library by downloading from this page, but it's recommended instead to do it through synaptic ... to prompt synaptic to find the library, you can just add this line (something like 'deb karmic universal') to your /etc/apt/sources.list file."

So, thinking that this was a good idea, I did add the line, but still couldn't find libxerces-c3.0 in my package manager, so I gave up and hunted down a .deb file for an older version of xmlcopyeditor that only needed libxerces-c2.8, and my happiness was complete. Or so I thought ...

Today, mintUpdate informed me that there were some updates for my system. (You see where this is going.) I took a minute to scroll through the list (just level 1, 2, and 3 updates --- I have level 4 and 5 filtered out) and was a little surprised to see that there were 880 of them; but I thought that this must mean that there were a bunch of Karmic/Helena updates that were cleared to go, I was busy with some other things and totally not thinking about what the change to the sources.list file might mean in this respect, so I went ahead with the update.

Well, now that the update has completed (along with two smaller subsequent updates), I've rebooted the system and it's hosed. I get a bluish-themed login page (there's a little white man figurine in a blue circle in a bar at the bottom of the screen), and after I log in, I get a white screen of death. Fortunately, I *can* log in in recovery mode, so there will be a way to recover my data if I need to reinstall the OS. But at the moment my laptop is unusable.

I would be very, very grateful if folks could suggest to me the best course of action. Questions:

1. is there a way to roll back this update? (definitely the preferred option)
2. if there is not a way to roll it back, is there a way to go all the way forward to Helena RC1 and restore a working system that way?
3. if there is no way either to roll back or push forward, so that I will need to go with a clean install, two questions:
a. what's going to be easier if I want this to be my primary working laptop but I also want to be on Helena when it goes to final release --- should I reinstall Gloria now and upgrade to Helena final in a few months? Or should I install Helena RC1 now and then upgrade to the final?
b. If I need to get all my data files onto an external USB drive from the recovery mode commandline, how do I go about recognizing the external drive and finding the path to it?
4. My linux install is a partition on a machine with a tiny and little-used but still-functioning windows XP partition. (Grub still lets me boot from it without problems.) Does that consideration affect any of the above answers? (For 3b, it would appear that I can't access files on the linux partition via windows like I could the other way around, but perhaps I'm wrong about that.)

Thanks boatloads in advance to anyone who can help.

Re: made a major mistake with mintUpdate - any ideas?

Posted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 9:48 pm
by uilenspiegel
OK, so getting a little further with my own question:

From this topic in the ubuntu forums: ... ack+update

it looks like rollback is not possible, which is after all what I would have expected. So that leaves either "pushing forward" to Helena RC1, or reinstall. And basically I can't imagine that reinstall won't be the cleaner solution, especially since my data should all be recoverable.

So that leaves the questions:

- how do I get the system to recognize an external usb drive from the recovery mode commandline, and where do I find that drive? I'm going to start poking around to see if I can figure that out.

- should I reinstall Gloria or just install Helena RC1 if this is my main laptop? If I understood better how upgrade works I would know how to answer this for myself ... if someone doesn't have a suggestion, and I can't figure it out in short order, I'll probably reinstall Gloria. I have my logs with all the fixes needed to get that working on my hardware so that shouldn't be too painful.

Thoughts are still very welcome if anyone has any.

Re: made a major mistake with mintUpdate - any ideas?

Posted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 11:14 pm
by uilenspiegel
Further to my own post --- I am just noting what I learn as I go through this in case someone else does the same stupid thing as me, which is unlikely:

Found this post on the ubuntu forum, in a useful thread: ... stcount=17

which shows that I need to run:

ls -lrt /dev/disk/by-id

to identify that my external usb drive partition is attached at /dev/sdb1, and then that I need to do this to create a mount point in /media:

sudo mkdir /media/mydrive

and then, since the drive in question is ntfs, need to run the following command to mount it:

sudo mount -t ntfs-3g /dev/sdb1 /media/mydrive/

which worked perfectly. I'm now copying my files over to /media/mydrive, should be done in a few minutes.

From what I can tell, it also looks like there won't be a clean upgrade path from Gloria to Helena, or necessarily even from Helena RC1 to Helena ... so I'll just reinstall Gloria for now and will upgrade to Helena when ready.

Good learning experience, all of this. :)