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Wed Oct 20 02:45:58 MDT 2010

<nod> Sound very much like a problem with one of your DVDs - from
experience, only ssh and patience will reliably get you out of that -
though nice will often, eventually, return the system to you.

>> > though you'll have to remove the lock file before you can continue 
> That was what the computer said after I did the unthinkable and pulled 
> the plug out.  Did not help me, because I did not know which lock file.

The system will tell you exactly which lockfile when you try and run
aptitude or apt-get.
The lock will be removed when you reboot.


> I had read that a fluctuating connection to the Internet can cause 
> disaster during a "dist-upgrade".  It is one of the reasons why I had not 
> taken this route seriously.

You have been misinformed - at worst you the attempt will be appended
with a message to the effect that "something_specific" failed - usually
with some helpful information (eg. bad gateway xxxx.xxxx.xxxx.xxxx) and
the suggestion that you re-run the process.

With dodgy connections I normally use the -d switch first (space allowing).
#apt-get -d install something (download but don't actually install)
followed by:-
#apt-get install something (it will not download something already
sitting in apt's cache).

> I could have looked at the script that recorded everything that happened 
> during the "dist-upgrade".  But I was too discouraged (and probably lack 
> the know-how to fix the problem).

If you ran script if would...
You did actually run "upgrade" before running "dist-upgrade"... yes?
Note: the former means new paint, the latter means new walls

>> > 
>> > If I were you I'd go the parallel or virtualbox route first,
> I normally shut down everything and run "apt-get" routines from a 
> console.  I could not work out how to get to the console after the 
> changed format that was delivered by the (successful) boot into Squeeze; 
> so I settled for using an xterm -  and lived to regret that decision!

Just a vt is sufficient (eg. Ctrl+Alt+F2)

Suggestion for the future:-
;kill your window manager before a dist-upgrade - saves distractions.

>> > your problems could be many things - my one coffee guess would be 
> either:-
>> > ;dodgy DVD
>> > ;no upgrade path for one or more of your Lenny packages
> My guess is quite different.
> I blame the "xscreensaver" routines, some of which may have been 
> mutilated during the uncompleted upgrade  My screen normally goes black 
> when the computer is not in use for some 10 minutes.  But it comes back 
> to life by tapping any key on the keyboard. Stopping at the "change disk" 
> instruction meant that the computer was doing nothing for 30 minutes or 
> so.  But the keyboard had locked; everything had locked!

Something I hadn't considered.

>> > Note also my earlier suggestion about debian-user mailing list:-
>> >
> Technically, I have subscribed to it and can read the headers of the 
> daily postings on my news-reader.  But queries that I send (via the 
> newsreader) do not score any reply; they appear (on my newsreader) on the 
> day that they are sent and vanish without a trace 24 hours later. 

You have indeed posted to the list (over the years, from webone) a quick
search of my mail shows nothing recently posted.

Gmail requires a little tweaking before your local client will receive a
copy of an email you sent to a list (ditto with this list).

> The list is monitored and I get a notification every month that I am 
> still a bona-fide member.  Maybe the newsreader-routine is not 
> acceptable; and I am not prepared to clutter up my mailbox with 150+ 
> emails every day - 98% of them well beyond my comprehension!

50% not worth reading :-)
I use extensive filtering - [OT] in one box, authoritative posters in
another box, Ubuntu in the bin, etc - I use if primarily as an offline
source of useful information for problem solving.
I have found the information given there (and on this list) have a much
lower noise to signal ratio than elsewhere (after of course!).

> Wiping the board clean (reformatting the partition) and starting again is 
> likely to be less time-consuming than finding and repairing the cause(s) 
> of a broken dist-upgrade - even if I knew a lot more than I do about 
> Debian/Linux.

The prevailing opinion of the Debian gurus I trust is the same - a clean
install is the best upgrade (if you want lint, try the washing machine
filter!). By which I mean don't repartition unless you plan on changing
the layout, just tar up the dot files in home (in addition to your usual
backups). Don't reformat unless you don't want the files on the
partition *and* you want a different file system.
Choose "expert" mode during the install (choose help at the first
screen) Amongst other things it will allow you to move data during the
install, allow you to choose lilo, and online repositories in addition
to the DVD ones. Note that there was a large point release a couple of
days ago.
Reformat / as part of the install, and any other partitions you have,
*except* for /home
Do not select laptop or desktop at tasksel (just standard system)
After reboot, apt-get your windowmanager and you'll be 60+% back to your
old machine with shiny new software :-)

> At least I have learned where not to stop and take-a break.

Well, maybe just turn off that screensaver :-)
Coffee breaks are good!

Strongly suggest you check the integrity of all the DVDs - you'll get
the opportunity to do so during the install.

> Thank you for the continuing interest and advice.
> Felix

No worries - good luck.
I shall now return to the joys KDE4.x, debugging plasma crashes, (and
eating my own dog food) ;-p


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