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Ubuntu MATE 16.04 to 18.04 Upgrade Hiccup on VirtualBox Guest Additions

Since the release of Ubuntu 18.04 I’ve been using it a bunch in various VMs.  I do love the new minimal install feature.  Even though it doesn’t save that much hard disk space it does make things a lot less  cluttered, which I absolutely love.  Because I work in VMs I’ve been experimenting with migrating OS’s up to 18.04 rather than crushing old VMs, building from scratch, and porting data over.  This process has worked almost seamlessly the dozen or so times I’ve done it across many VMs from various different baselines: Mainline 16.04, Mainline 17.10, Ubuntu MATE 16.04.  The actual core software itself seems to work perfectly fine out of the box, but as I said it is almost seamless not seamless.  There seems to be a bit of a wrinkle with the Ubuntu MATE update with respect to the VirtualBox Guest Additions, specifically with respect to shared folder drives.

I first ran across this in one of my main VMs when I tried the update.  Everything went great, I re-applied the guest additions and voilà my shared folder drives mounted and I was in business.  The next day when I fired up the VM they were missing.  It was a hectic day, so I thought perhaps I had remembered it working so I applied the guest additions again.  The drives reappeared.  This time I rebooted to confirm it stuck but sadly they did not.  I’ve continued to do some experimenting and have come to discover that while they are there the systemd process doesn’t seem to want to start on reboot even though it is set to. So to fix it I just need to do the following command to get them to show up:

sudo systemctl restart vboxadd-service.service

I wasn’t having this problem on Ubuntu 18.04 or Ubuntu MATE 18.04 virgin machines so this was either a problem with the general Ubuntu 16.04 to 18.04 upgrade process or specific to Ubuntu MATE 16.04 to 18.04 upgrade.  I therefore went about creating two brand new VMs, one each for mainline Ubuntu 16.04 and one for Ubuntu MATE 16.04 and then went through the upgrade process directly.  Those steps are:

  1. Fresh install OS with 3rd party and upgrades turned on
  2. Follow https://virtualboxes.org/doc/installing-guest-additions-on-ubuntu/ for installing guest additions
  3. Shutdown/Power on
  4. Add user to the vboxsf group (sudo usermod -a -G vboxsf <username>)
  5. Restart
  6. Confirm RW shared folder
  7. Bring up graphical updater, do any additional updates
  8. Invoke Upgrade to 18.04 through graphical system:
    sudo apt update && sudo apt dist-upgrade
    update-manager -d
  9. See if shared folder drive there
  10. After Update re-apply kernel extensions
  11. Restart
  12. Confirm shared drive

I can repeatably show that mainline Ubuntu 16.04 goes through these updates without this artifact but the MATE version does not.  Again, a fresh Ubuntu MATE 18.04 install doesn’t have this behavior at all.  I wonder if this write up can shed some light on this problem for the Ubuntu MATE team.

The Death of Ubuntu Desktop Was Greatly Exaggerated

It was just a few months ago when Ubuntu announced they were killing off Unity, their main desktop option.  Many people were wondering if this was part of their larger pivot towards more profitable ventures and thus they would be leaving the desktop behind.  I too was filled with worry about that potential outcome but calmed myself remembering that I was not locked into one vendor for my OS any longer.  In the intervening months however it has become clear that Ubuntu is not killing of the desktop, far from it.  In fact the strides they are taking with Ubuntu 17.10 and Ubuntu 18.04 look like they are about to put out the strongest desktop offering to date.  Not having to carry the weight of a phone platform, their own desktop environment, etc. has allowed their team to focus on giving positive contributions to Gnome proper.  I’ve had the opportunity to play around with the Ubuntu 17.10 betas and have to say that I don’t think I’d be missing anything from my current Ubuntu experience.  I look forward to upgrading to 18.04 when the time comes and no longer worrying about if one of my desktop baselines was going away.

Existential Angst From Ubuntu Desktop Demise

As much as I’ve never been a fan of Unity I’ve learned not to hate it as much as my host OS (and even in some of my VMs).  Sure, my go-to desktops of late are mostly MATE distros or Cinnamon, but Unity hasn’t been completely unacceptable.  With Ubuntu’s recent announcement of the demise of Unity and people openly pontificating on if this means Ubuntu is abandoning the desktop or looking to sell to someone like Microsoft who will then kill it on the desktop I started to analyze what this meant to me as a Linux desktop user.  Is this the end of the road for that journey and therefore back to Mac or, god forbid, Windows?

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