More Software Breakage

At work the Ubuntu 4.4.0-143 kernel update started an avalanche of problems with our migration project. The kernel update caused VirtualBox not to run. The problem is well reported and discussed around the web. Many Ubuntu users are miffed.

In Ubuntu MATE 16.04, the VirtualBox bug can be resolved by updating to the Hardware Enablement (HWE) kernel. In 16.04 that is kernel 4.15.

I successfully tested this solution. To remain consistent, I proceeded to update other systems.

That revealed breakage elsewhere. For our use case at work, updating to the HWE kernel breaks an office workstation that freezes unless we use the proprietary NVidia 304 drivers.

The breakage is that the 304 drivers will not compile with the HWE kernel. A patch is available, but researching around the web indicates no upstream resolution is forthcoming because the 304 drivers have been declared end-of-life (EOL).

A somewhat comical angle to this story is the workstation with the stable NVidia card does not have a CPU that supports hardware virtualization extensions. Moving to the HWE kernel on that workstation to run VirtualBox doesn’t help us with our goals to run virtual systems. VirtualBox will run without hardware support but only painfully on old CPUs. The problematic workstation can’t run VirtualBox because of the 304 driver breakage.

I have no experience with virt-manager and KVM, but I doubt that software would resolve anything.

Likewise is updating to Ubuntu MATE 18.04. Release 18.04 will not fix our desire to run virtual systems on older hardware. Besides, I did not want to update to 18.04 until autumn or so.

Fortunately the owner has given me the green light to spec out new workstations. In the long run this is a sane solution. With respect to computer hardware, those motherboards are ancient.

Posted: Category: Usability Tagged: Migrate, Ubuntu

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