Linux Operating System

Kubuntu: updating to LTS v18.04

I normally remain on an LTS (long term support) version of Kubuntu until just before the release of the next LTS version.The reason why I hold off with upgrades is that hopefully most of the bugs in the version I will be upgrading to will have been killed by the time I do the upgrade. Unfortunately, this was not the case with v16.04 - I really had many issues with it.

As the LTS version upgrades of Ubuntu (the underlying foundation of Kubuntu) are normally done on a two yearly basis in April of the even years, April 2020 was the time for me to undertake this chore. The coronavirus lockdown in South Africa gave me an ideal opportunity to this. Before I get to the upgrade, let me discuss some of the issues I had with v16.04. These were not isolated issues as other people out there have complained about it.

Issues with Kubuntu 16.04

1. Disappearing windows decorations This had to be my biggest irritation - without the windows decorations, any open app just became an area on the screen which could not be moved around, minimised nor closed. I was never able to find the cause of the problem, but more often than not it appeared to occur after I used synaptic. I did find a temporary fix from the kind people out there on the web. A temporary fix was to enter the following command in a console:

kwin --replace

The console window had to remain open for the duration of the session, and could not be used for anything else.

A possible permanent fix is mentioned here. I did not see this one when I was looking for a fix as the workaround above did the trick.

2. Headphones not working I still do quite a bit of transcribing LPs to digital and when trying to fix clicks from scratches in the audio file, one needs to be able to listen really closely to the sound, without external distractions. Headphones is the only way to do this. Using the onboard headphone jack on my computer never worked properly with v16.04 (it worked fine with earlier versions of Kubuntu). I spent many, many hours trying to resolve this issue but it only worked intermittently.

3. Broken Plymouth I had great fun changing themes with Plymouth in v14.04. With the upgrade to 16.04, the devs, in their wisdom, decided to move the location of the Plymouth modules away from /usr/lib. This lead to the warning

W: plymouth module "(/usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/plymouth//.so)" missing, skipping that theme

everytime a new kernel was generated. I eventually gave up on trying to find a fix for this and just lived with a mixture of boot up themes. Most of the words of wisdom available at the time pointed to the older methods of changing the theme.

4. Error copying a mixture of files and directories in Dolphin Dolphin has many very nice features, one of which I really like is the ability to rip files from CD. In v16.04, there was an intermittent error when trying to copy a directory containing a mixture of files and directories: Error: "[pathname of source Subdir] is a folder, but a file was expected"

This error is mentioned in the KDE Bugtracking System.

5. Wine's Program Files Normally the Windows files installed under Wine are under Wine > Program Files from the start menu. For some reason these all ended up under Lost & Found from the start menu. They all worked as expected though.


Issues with the installation of Kubuntu 18.04

The install process itself was the most problem free one that I have done. However, with any major upgrade like this, there are always some issues.

1. Booting to a console This is normally quite scary, as one gets so used to booting into a windowing system these days. Fortunately, trusty Google came up with a fix with in seconds. The answer by code_dredd at the bottom of the page on this thread on Stack Exchange (now points to Ask Ubuntu) solved the problem for me.

This begs the question, why, after two years, the upgrade script has not been modified to fix this?

2. Tearing Screen Interestingly enough, this doesn't occur during the boot sequence (as I would expect), but rather directly after login. To me, screen tearing signifies a driver problem and one would think that the screen drivers are all loaded by the time one gets to the login screen.


Screen tearing after login

The tearing also occurs when shutting the computer down, but this is very brief.

3. Broken Plymouth I finally found a fix for this problem on Stack Exchange. The answer by EdgarZG, edited by Zanna, at the bottom of the page is the easiest to follow. I have just left it on the system default for now.

What was interesting, was that with my current search, this was the first hit that came up. During my earlier searches, I did not see it at all, even though it is dated from around the time when I upgraded to v16.04!

4. Disappearing windows decorations I have not seen this issue yet, so hopefully it has been fixed.

5. The Clean Theme for Ksudoku deleted I like using a third party theme for Ksudoku which was deleted during the upgrade. I have written a short how-to on how to put it back, with the necessary files.

6. Broken Wine Windows programs under Wine once again appeared under Wine > Program Files on the start menu after the upgrade. However, when I tried to use one of these apps, (Canon's DPP), it wouldn't work. On further testing, I found that no apps worked under wine. Searching pointed to a wrong version of Wine being used. The installed version was 1.7, whereas the Web search suggested it should be 3.0.

There was no Wine 3.0 in the repositories, but there was a wine-stable 3.0. I tried to install that, but then got all kinds of errors that files were being trying to be installed over those belonging to Wine 1.7. I then tried to uninstall Wine 1.7, but that then gave me errors about Wine 3.0 files. Talk about circular issues. I eventually got it uninstalled and wine-stable 3.0 installed. Canon's DPP then worked without any further issues.

The moral of the story here is, first uninstall the older version of Wine before trying to install the newer version. Again, I feel this is something that could have been built into the upgrade script.

7. KSnapshot The screen capture utility, KSnapshot, has disappeared. It took a bit of searching to find it had been replaced by an app called Spectacle. It seems to be pretty much the same thing, so why the name change?

(updated: 13 April 2020)