Saturday, June 28, 2008

Ubuntu Hardy Heron is Unstable

I've been running Hardy now for quite a while, and I've come to the conclusion that it isn't stable. I will probably be downgrading to Gutsy very soon, however much I dislike the idea of doing so. To me, downgrading doesn't feel like I'm being part of the solution, but rather that I'm just bypassing the problem.

Here are the things I've been having problems with so far in Hardy. And, for the record, I've tried all of these things with compiz disabled as well, with no improvement:
  1. On occasion (sometimes as frequently as once an hour), gnome-terminal will open with a blank (frozen, not invisible) window, there will be a grey bar where the menus should be, and I have to terminate the process. I've tried waiting it just stays there blank. Once this happens, nautilus, gedit, and even some of the file-related dialog boxes, and possibly the pop-down calendar from the gnome panel all crash in the same way, creating a blank box, and in the case of anything associated with the gnome panel, freezing the panel entirely. Restarting GDM doesn't help. I've tried everything. There seems to be nothing logged showing that there was any problem. Rebooting is the only solution.
  2. Firefox 3. Not only is it annoying (due to AwesomeBar), but it feels less polished than Firefox 2. My Firefox 2 did crash every once in a while. I finally decided to reinstall Firefox 2, and give it a try. Firefox 3 unfortunately did things to the configuration which makes Firefox 2 suck as well, since it tries to run off of the same settings. I deleted the extensions.rdf file and start FF2 and everything seems almost OK. But, if I ever run FF3 again, it ruins FF2 (removes all extensions, mostly.) This means I cannot ease into FF3 while still using FF2 for my day to day work. I will thus be uninstalling FF3.
  3. Random lock-ups. I haven't had this problem as much as some people have been reporting, but I have had some unusual lock-ups. One of them involved my screen suddenly appearing scrunched left-to-right and streched up-and-down with big black bars on either side and everything completely frozen (including the mouse pointer) requiring a hard reset.
  4. Thunderbird is barely usable. I use Thunderbird with an IMAP account. Previously, it has worked like a charm, but now all of a sudden, it routinely crashes without an explanation. It seems to crash in two different ways. The first way will be, while checking my inbox, new messages will appear, but the program is still catching up (not usable yet), and all of a sudden the entire program will just disappear. Messages, and the main window, poof, they're gone. No word as to why. This happens about 1 in 5 times that I open Thunderbird. The other one happens about 3 out of 5 times that I open thunderbird, and it involves clicking on my Inbox and the program immediately going comatose. When compiz is on, the window dims to a dark gray to show me that the program isn't responding, and no matter how long I wait, it never wakes back up. I have to kill the process (or click the X and force quit it) in order to try again. Yes, that adds up to 4 out of 5 tries that Thunderbird doesn't work. Every once in a while I am lucky and it will work, in which case it is usually stable for the entire session until I close it.
I'm a web developer. Browsing the web, using SSH through a terminal, and checking my email are nearly all that I do on my computer, and Hardy Heron isn't ready for ANY of those tasks. Gutsy Gibbon worked perfectly with all of them. I will probably be moving back to gutsy, but I'm afraid of what a downgrade might involve as far as my user configuration files are concerned. I guess I will be making backups before downgrading.


Anonymous said...

Try Linux Mint :)

Anonymous said...

"Try Linux Mint :)"

I agree too. It seems stable, easy to use and intuitive. Mandriva could be another option.

Anonymous said...

Have you tried running Thunderbird from the terminal to see if there are any error messages?
I have to partially agree on Hardy being a step back from Gutsy. I tend to do a lot of multi-tasking and Hardy just seems less responsive than Gutsy did under the same workloads. Maybe I will have to try Fedora again?

corevette said...

It doesn't take a genius to use Google and find out how to fix problems

If you have problems on the internet...use the internet

Anonymous said...

Ever since Dapper 6.06.1, I feel stability has been on the slide. My ASUS laptop (old model, L3800C) running Dapper never ever crashes. Never. Not a single time. After Dapper, I installed all the new releases on a desktop system. Bog standard hardware, nothing fancy (even Breezy runs out-of-the-box on this system). We've reached Hardy and all I can say is that it hasn't been all forward. Don't get me wrong, user interface-wise things have definitely moved up the ladder, but, so it seems, at the cost of stability. Especially using Feisty, and now with Hardy again, I find myself Ctrl-Alt-F2-ing in order to issue a reboot command just a wee bit too often. For this desktop system, I've moved back to Dapper. But that's not a long-term solution.

Only recently, I bought an HP laptop (6710b) and installed Hardy. Again, bog standard hardware. GDM, Epiphany, Firefox, Rhythmbox, VLC (just to name but a few) all crash very regularly; sometimes they allow for a simple restart, sometimes not. I've tried reinstalling respective packages and also reinstalling the whole system, but it just doesn't seem to get any better. I've had to say goodbye to networkmanager because of unwillingness on its side. Replaced it with wicd and wireless network connections are stable now.

I don't know what it is, but I feel I'm on a long slide, slowly heading for the sandpit.

habtool said...

Debian Lenny (testing branch) has been running very well for me.

It does not use pulse-audio, so no youtube/flash or skype sound issues as with hardy.

I agree that the stability of Hardy was not up to scratch, they should have left pulse-audio out and rather just bug fixed and polished Gutsy so it coul d have been a rock solid LTS version, but what they ended up with not perfect.

LTS really need to be solid, sad they forget that obvious point.

Lucky with l9nux we have many choices, like Debian, with a new stable release out at the end of the year :)

JohnMc said...

Unstable?! In some cases, depending on the hardware/MB combo it won't even load. I can take a Gutsy load and it installs nary a problem.

I agree with habtool, an LTS should be rock solid and been throughly tested. Fact it should probably be less cutting edge than the std rollouts. Production quality it is not. I am afraid that Canonical has harmed the brand somewhat with Hardy.

Anonymous said...

What's the specs on your machine?

Some suggestions:
1. If you don't care completely remove compiz...,select your screen model in screen and graphics preferences...,
#sudo gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf
change DefaultColorDepth from 24 to 16
update...,search the forums.

2. If you still running ff3 beta upgrade to ff3 or else from synaptic completely remove firefox, firefox-3.0,
firefox-3.0-gnome-support, firefox-gnome-support then back up your bookmarks and delete file (.mozilla) in your home directory after that install firefox-2, firefox-2-gnome-support and you'll be fine

3.Probably see 1 plus your graphics card driver...

4 Not using it...update...,search the forums.

hope i helped a bit!

Anonymous said...

Use openSUSE.

Version 11 is rock solid and has everything you need, in one, beautiful and stable package.

miksuh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
miksuh said...

"It does not use pulse-audio, so no youtube/flash or skype sound issues"

PulseAudio actually is in Debian Lenny. It just is not installed by default. PulseAudio is also in Debian Etch, but again not installed by default.

I don't know what you mean by Skype audio issues. both PulseAudio and Skype work just fine on my Debian system. Also Youtube videos play just fine using Totem and webbrowser.

Richard said...

Unstable is something that I would not say about Hardy. Gutsy I believe was a step back from Feisty but they have restored my faith. All three PC's here of completely different specs. Whereas SUSE 11 just did not work properly, let alone the pathetic effort of Mandriva. But all in all everyone is different, but as long as it is not MS that is a win for competition.

Michael said...

I think Hardy has been working fine for me on a dell laptop which is pretty new. The compiz has broken with the updates for a while now.
I would recomend backing up your entire hard drive onto a large hard drive as an image then doing the down grade incase it gets less stable

Jeff Day said...

I think I solved some of my problems!

While in the crash state (where gnome apps generally won't open), I finally took some serious time to debug it. I tried killing each gnome related process (panel, settings daemon, etc.) one at a time to see if one of those caused it. Nope. Finally, I ran some of the affected apps with strace and I noticed it would hang on:

connect(16, {sa_family=AF_FILE, path="/tmp/.esd-1000/socket"}, 23

I tracked this down to pulseaudio! Damn pulseaudio. gnome-terminal has nothing to do with audio, as far as I know! So, I tried killing the pulseaudio process. Wait, it didn't die! So I ended up having to do:

kill -9 number

(where number is the process number for pulseaudio)

My screen went black, then everything flickered, then about five nautiluses and a gedit opened, and everything came back to life. gnome-terminal works again! (I had to restart pidgin for some reason, though.)

I have now uninstalled pulseaudio with sudo apt-get remove pulseaudio

I believe I have fixed my biggest stability problem.

Second problem: Thunderbird randomly quitting. It was easy, I just had to update my hotmail plugin to the newest version, which isn't in the auto-update repository yet! Solved!

I'm much happier now. I'll see how this goes for a while.

method said...

I googled your post when that terminal problem happened to me. Then I saw your last comment and killed pulseaudio through System Monitor. Lo, the terminal came alive. Then every other window went crazy and everything slowed to a crawl.

I would remove pulseaudio but that would mean removing ubuntu-desktop, which will take me off of the dist-upgrade track, right?

One thing I found with Firefox 3 is that it and the desktop seemed to get out of a general funk once I trashed .gconf and gconfd after Firefox 3 final was installed.