Wednesday, February 9, 2011

New release of Wubi migration script

I've released a new version of the Wubi migration script ( Here are some of the new features:

  • You can migrate either Wubi or a normal install. It detects the type and handles accordingly. This is useful if you want to move your regular Ubuntu install, keep a working backup, or do some experimentation without jeopardizing anything. Also for Wubi users who migrate and then need to re-jig their partitions, it makes it easier to move the install (without worrying about UUID changes).
  • It now supports grub-legacy. This was one area that was lacking - I don't know how many people have Wubi with grub-legacy, but there have been a few requests. So the migration supports releases with grub-legacy: 8.04 to 9.04 (as well as those that have been upgraded to 9.10 and later). The caveat is that the script replaces grub-legacy with Grub2 on the migrated install - so you probably don't want to be doing this prior to release 9.10 (I don't know how robust Grub2 is on 8.04.4, for example).
  • It also supports migration from a root.disk file with the --root-disk= option. I had already come up with a manual solution for this before and it didn't seem too big a deal to add in to the script. So if you have a good root.disk, but you've lost the ability to boot into it, or you want to migrate to another machine, you can now boot a live CD and migrate from it. The root.disk must be a working, fully-contained Wubi install i.e. not have separate virtual disks for /boot, /usr or /home. (This rules out grub-legacy where /boot is always on the /host Windows partition.)
  • Finally there are some minor tweaks. The new option --shared-swap will bypass the 'mkswap' command to preserve the UUID on the swap partition. Useful if you have multiple installs and you want to share the existing swap partition.
  • I also split the output from --help into two separate options: --help and --notes to suppress the flood of output.
  • Other notable changes - better validation, better error handling, for instance if there is an error in the chroot, the script attempts to cleanly unmount from the chroot before exiting. 
Testing all the possible scenarios and releases is a challenge. I've done a number of cases from releases 8.04.4 to 10.10 (except 8.10) including Wubi and non-Wubi, with Grub2 and Grub-legacy. But as always community feedback is always welcome.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Anticipating Natty Alpha 2 with Wubi

So, it's Alpha 2 week and what better time to check out Wubi again. But the news isn't good. In fact, things have gone from bad to worse. Before you could install Natty Wubi by replacing the buggy wubildr with a working Maverick copy to kick-start the installation. Now it just results in a loop in the installler (ubiquity) saying "No root filesystem has been defined".

So much for that... Let's try the upgrade option instead.

And the silver lining is... that the upgrade from Wubi Maverick to Natty was very smooth. No errors. No strange popups. No Afghanistan keyboard. In fact, the only thing I noticed was an "error: file not found" as grub booted into kernel 2.6.38-1.

So upgrading a Maverick install is still the preferred way to go if you want to test Natty on Wubi.

PS I didn't expect the fresh Natty Wubi install to work because the Natty wubi.exe hadn't been updated (since early December). And the new installer bug isn't too surprising either - it's Alpha after all and you need to expect these things. However, I do think it's fair to expect that sometime between December 2nd and February 2nd that the developer would have done one or two unit tests on Wubi.exe and discovered the problem  (or at least noticed the bug report).

To be honest, I'd prefer they stopped messing with Wubi Natty and fixed the far more important Lucid Grub issues... but I know that's not likely to happen.

Just today there was someone on who had their computer completely wiped (Factory restored) by some lousy 'tech support' due to the Wubi grub rescue issue. These are real, live, normal people trying out Ubuntu and it'd be nice if the devs took that a little more seriously.