At 11pm last night I decided to install the latest version of Ubuntu – version 8.10 Intrepid Ibex. I grabbed the 32-bit alternate installer disc iso yesterday. It took about 1.5 hours – that is including the time it took me to change the server the OS gets it updates from. I have changed the update mechanism to check my local Internode mirrors so it doesn’t cost me bandwidth when a big release comes out.

It went quite well – the only hiccup was when I tried to get it to install over my existing linux partition – I had to manually re-format the partition before it would over-write…

1100 rebooted pc
1101 reset boot order in bios to set dvd as first boot device
1104 setting hostname
1105 setting clock and city
1110 erasing data on existing linux partition
1115 reformat linux partition due to “can’t delete base system files” error
1116 installing base system…
1118 default user account name = <MyUserAccountName>>
1119 user = <<MyUserName>>
1120 pass = <<MyPassword>>
1121 private passphrase = <<MyPassphrase>>
1123 scanning apt mirror
1125 select and install software…
1128   … 6%
1132   …25%
1135   …43%
1138   …60%
1145   …80%
1148   …84%
1150   …93%
1151 installation complete – first reboot
1152 test grub install worked ok – booting into windows…
1157   …everything AOK – rebooting back into Ubuntu 8.10
1159 password entry screen – login
1200 “Software update available” popup … [ignored]
1201 changing apt to use internode’s mirrors…
1211   …done – sudo apt-get update…updating
1213   …updates complete
1214 “Software update available” popup…
1217   …verified updates downloading from internode
1218   …7 minutes remaining
1225   …applying changes
1228   …system restart required
1229 TADA!

After this I had to make some small changes – the first being to allow users to have blank passwords – I needed my five year daughter to be able to login simply be selecting her login icon (barbie princess) from the gdm login screen.

Relax password rules so some users can login without password

Google helped me find this page which detailed a few shell commands that needed to be done to relax the default passwords complexity rules:

Remove the password for the user with username ‘myUser
open a terminal
– sudo passwd -d myUser

Authorize login with no passwords in gdm
– sudo sed -i ‘s/#PasswordRequired=false/PasswordRequired=false/’ /etc/gdm/gdm.conf

Authorize login with no passwords in pam
– sudo sed -i ‘s/nullok_secure/nullok/’ /etc/pam.d/common-auth

Set pictures on login screen for users

This was easy, for each user I logged on and selected System > Preferences > About Me. From here I only had to click on the default picture in the top-left of the screenand select a picture.


Steve · December 7, 2008 at 8:47 am

Jaso – is it worth upgrading to the latest version do you think?
I am toying with the idea of giving mum & dad’s a refresh

jason · December 7, 2008 at 1:55 pm

Yeah it is, with caveats though…

If all they do is email, web browsing, and, say, stashing their digital pictures you should be fine.

There are a few areas where things might go awry:

1. Dual booting + kernel upgrades. I had some weird things happen when the upgrades wanted to update the grub (boot loader) menu. You had to make a selection out of a few nerdy choices and can get some quite unexpected results if You don’t know exactly what is going on.

2. Ubuntu doesn’t look or feel anything like windows. This can really freak people out. I’ve found that most people don’t understand that there are different operating systems beyond those created by Microsoft (and sometimes Apple). If you’ve got your folks using Firefox for internet browsing and Thunderbird as an email client then you’ve won half the battle – you can use those in Ubuntu as well. Then you can also head over to and dress up ubuntu as windows. I’ve tried it out on one of my profiles and it’s pretty convincing.

3. Your ability to administer a *nix box. I am not yet confident enough to set up and administer a *nix box for others. Especially if they live far far away. (May not be an issue with your folks!). If it all goes pear-shaped you are going to get the call “Stevo – my interwebs don’t work. There was a message but I didn’t understand it. Fix it now!” I am OK doing my own as it’s my own PC so If it goes down I’ve got nobody else to blame, and I’ve got other access to the net for trouble shooting forums.

Steve · December 8, 2008 at 7:58 am

Hey there Jaso – my oldies are already on Ubuntu hardy heron. It is going great guns, although I agree, the admin side of things taks some getting used to. The different config files and their locations and formats takes some getting used to.
The main thing is that Ubuntu is no problem from a useability point of view for my parents.
I was wondering though if you reckon there are any great changes from Hardy to warrant an upgrade.

jason · December 8, 2008 at 9:29 pm

try here:

– 8.04 Hardy Heron has Long Term Support; 8.10 Intrepid Ibex does not
– 8.10 has new login options (“auto sign in” option when installing, plus a guest account)
– Built-in encrypted folder for your pr0n and terrorist plans
– New network manager
– Software updates – GNOME,, Compiz (But OO.o is not that latest v3 release)
– new kernel, wider driver/hardware support

“Yet, apart from the presumed hardware benefits and the pleasure of having the latest dot-releases of everything available I don’t find anything maddeningly compelling about Intrepid Ibex that would make me suggest anyone exert effort in upgrading – let alone setting up again from scratch – their existing Hardy Heron setups.”

Maybe just wait it out and see what comes along in 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope. If your oldies aren’t asking for it I wouldn’t offer it…

Steve · December 9, 2008 at 8:29 pm

thanks dude!
do nothing………. done!

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