Upgrading from Ubuntu 9.10 to 10.4

Jack Wallen
Apr 28, 2010
Updated • Jan 19, 2013

I will preface this by saying, I always suggest a clean installation. But for those of you who'd prefer to at least first attempt an upgrade, the technology is already in place for you to do so. Upgrading Ubuntu is not a terribly challenging task. It can be, depending up your network speed and machine, time consuming. In most cases a LOT of files have to be upgraded. And, as with ANY upgrade of this nature, you must backup your files. With a major upgrade there is always a chance that things could go awry and you will want to have your data on an external source.

But don't let all of this frighten you. I have had success with the 9.10 -> 10.4 upgrade. And in this article I will show you how it's done.

First things first

Before you begin the release upgrade process it is crucial that you update your current release so that it is as up to date as possible. To do this open up a terminal window and issue the command sudo update-manager which will open up the familiar tool used to update Ubuntu. If there are any updates available go ahead and let those updates happen.

After the updates are complete close out the Update Manager and then start it again, this time instructing it to check for a distribution upgrade like so:

sudo update-manager -d

Figure 1

This time you should notice new button in the window (see Figure 1). As you can see, even upon updating 9.10, there are still some updates to be done. If this happens, go ahead and click Install Updates again. If the Update Manager closes after this update, start it again with the above command.

Once you have reached the point where there are no updates click the Upgrade button which will begin the process of upgrading your release.

Figure 2

After you click this button a new window will appear (see Figure 2).  During the progress of this window you will have to OK a couple of windows. One window will inform you that some of your repositories have been disabled. This will only happen if you have third-party repositories enabled that Canonical doesn't support. The next window you will have to okay is after the Update Manager calculates the amount of packages needed. In the last Ubuntu 9.10 I upgraded 1,476 packages had to be upgraded!

After you have Okay'd that final window the process of downloading the packages will begin. Upon completion of the download the upgrade will start. Do not interrupt this upgrade. And I wouldn't bother trying to work on this machine either. Just let the Update Manager do it's thing.

When the upgrade is complete, you will have to restart your computer. Before you restart, double check to make sure you have backed up all of your files. Now, restart. Don't hold your breath (it won't help). ;-)

Once Ubuntu has rebooted you can click on System > About Ubuntu to make sure the upgrade was successful (it will tell you which version of Ubuntu you are using). Hopefully you will see 10.4 listed.

Final thoughts

I probably shouldn't have to remind you that not every upgrade instance will be successful. It can be risky. But when it works it works VERY well. Just remember to back up that data before you do anything.


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  1. pawan said on February 18, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Checking for a new ubuntu release
    Done Upgrade tool signature
    Done Upgrade tool
    Done downloading
    extracting ‘lucid.tar.gz’
    authenticate ‘lucid.tar.gz’ against ‘lucid.tar.gz.gpg’
    tar: Removing leading `/’ from member names

    Reading cache

    Checking package manager
    Reading package lists: Done
    Reading state information: Done
    Reading state information: Done
    Reading state information: Done
    Done downloading
    Reading package lists: Done
    Reading state information: Done
    Reading state information: Done
    Reading state information: Done

    Updating repository information
    WARNING: Failed to read mirror file

    Third party sources disabled

    Some third party entries in your sources.list were disabled. You can
    re-enable them after the upgrade with the ‘software-properties’ tool
    or your package manager.

    Done downloading

    Checking package manager
    Reading package lists: Donem lucid-proposed/universe Packages: 97
    Reading state information: Done
    Reading state information: Done
    Reading state information: Done

    Calculating the changes

    Calculating the changes

    Could not calculate the upgrade

    An unresolvable problem occurred while calculating the upgrade:
    E:Unable to correct problems, you have held broken packages.

    This can be caused by:
    * Upgrading to a pre-release version of Ubuntu
    * Running the current pre-release version of Ubuntu
    * Unofficial software packages not provided by Ubuntu

    If none of this applies, then please report this bug against the
    ‘update-manager’ package and include the files in
    /var/log/dist-upgrade/ in the bug report.

    Restoring original system state

    Reading package lists: Donermic/main Packages: 97 se Packages: 97
    Reading state information: Done
    Reading state information: Done
    Reading state information: Done

  2. Allan said on November 4, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    I went into update manager by clicking on system-administration-update manager. Installed updates.
    Then when it said up to date I closed and opened again. Wondering if it had got all the updates, I clicked on check and it searched and found some stuff and I downloaded it.

    Much to my surprise I had installed 10.4! That was easy

  3. phil said on May 10, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    I tried last night and again today but the result was the same. I am running ubuntu 9.10 in VM Ware player on my Windows 7 machine and it works great, the update to 10.04 went without any problems but when it rebooted it would not recognise my keyboard which is a Logitech Ex100 wireless keyboard. I have now gone back to 9.10 until someone can giv me a solution to this problem.

  4. Libisa said on May 5, 2010 at 3:37 pm


  5. jasray said on May 2, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    Well, I waited the last couple of days, downloaded the latest and installed 10.4 using PenDriveLinux USB installer on to a 4GB. Nothing to update–added very little. The final must have included the fixes for which I was hoping.

    Although I do like the distro, for some reason I still prefer PCLinuxOS Gnome 2010 which I am running on VMware Player with the tools installed, some shared folders, 1024 of RAM. One problem with PCLinux, persistence disappeared with MCN Live Toronto. Too bad.

  6. TMAN said on May 2, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    I updated from 9.10 to 10.4 and the installation seemed to go fine, then it rebooted and took me to a blank (when I say blank, I mean no buttons, cursor, nothing) screen… my laptop simply would not respond to anything I tried…had to go back to 9.10 for now until I figure out why this happened :(

    1. ap said on May 10, 2010 at 8:12 am

      i had the same issue as well

  7. pnut said on April 29, 2010 at 5:50 am

    It’s not as bad as it was from 9.04 to 9.10 which was a nice surprise

  8. PeterB said on April 28, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    I just upgraded last night.
    I needed 1545 new packages. I had 4 kernel errors during upgrading from ubuntu 9.10 Gnome.
    worth mentioning that i was doing it in virtual box.
    but anyway, It started up afterwards. :o)
    I also have ubuntu 9.10 installed using wubi.
    I think I’ll wait until it has been officially released tomorrow (source: http://www.ubuntu.com/news/ubuntu-10.04-desktop-edition)

  9. jasray said on April 28, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    Was using a nightly build with so many bugs I gave up and went back to SuperOS–interesting color scheme (purple, orange, brown, red, almost black).

  10. tready 68 said on April 28, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    well i updated 9.10 to 10.4 last night without any problems. i used a network 3 dongle and a toshiba nb100 net book. it took 3 hrs to download the 1476 files lol. then it took a couple of more hours for ubuntu to do its thing. i will say this my ztemf627 dongle now works perfect with 10.4 i no longer have to use the eject system it just fires up.

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