Do not update to Ubuntu 21.04: the PC may not boot

Do not update to Ubuntu 21.04: the PC may not boot

Do not update to Ubuntu 21.04

Fans of the Linux operating system will surely know that Ubuntu version 21.04 was recently released, one of the most popular distributions currently out there that integrates Wayland as the default display server for the first time. However, it seems that many who wish to upgrade from a previous edition, such as 20.04 or 20.10, are unable to do so. In fact, according to the OMG portal! Ubuntu! there is a bug that prevents users from completing the operation correctly.

The problem seems to reside in shim, the bootloader that manages the safe boot process of the operating system. In fact, users who own one of the first versions of EFI may be unable to boot the system after the upgrade. A new release of shim is on the way to fix the situation, but users who are confident that their hardware is new enough to work around the problem can manually force an update, at their own risk, from the command line.

Brian Murray, software engineer at Canonical, said in a message posted on the Ubuntu Developer mailing list:

Due to the severity of the problem we shouldn't encourage people to upgrade at this time. After we have a new signed version of shim, we will integrate it into Ubuntu 21.04 and reactivate the updates.

At the moment, it is not known exactly which machines are affected by the problem. Dave Jones, another software engineer at Canonical, suggested on Twitter that modern machines shouldn't be affected, but older systems like a 2011 ThinkPad 420 or 2012 MacBook Air are plagued by the bug.

Codenamed “Hirsute Hippo“, Ubuntu 21.04 offers support for the Wayland display server, but Xorg still remains available for those who need it. Native Active Directory integration and an optimized certified Microsoft SQL server are among the new features of this release.

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Upgrading to Ubuntu 21.04 Is Not a Good Idea Right Now

(Photo: Canonical)

Last week, Canonical released Ubuntu 21.04, which as usual results in a rush of upgrades from the previous version. However, Ubuntu users are now being told not to upgrade manually, and won't be seeing the upgrade notification pop-up for some time.

As OMG!Ubuntu reports, the unusual situation where developers are telling users not to upgrade to the latest version of their operating system has come about because of a serious bug.

Brian Murray, Ubuntu Bugmaster working at Canonical, wrote an email to the Ubuntu developer mailing list explaining, 'In case you missed it in the release notes[1] and hear people asking about it, I wanted to let you know that users of Ubuntu 20.10 are not being prompted to upgrade to Ubuntu 21.04 ... This is due to a bug[2] with the current version of shim in Ubuntu 21.04 which can cause systems with an early version of EFI to fail to boot after the upgrade.'

EFI refers to the Extensible Firmware Interface between the operating system and the underlying firmware. It seems that on older hardware there's a serious issue that can result in an attempted Ubuntu 21.04 upgrade resulting in a system no longer booting. This has already been reported on the Ubuntu bug tracking platform by user Balint Reczey who rendered a 2012 model MacBook Air unbootable. To recover, Reczey had to revert to using an Ubuntu 20.04 live CD to overwrite some files, which is a situation developers are trying to avoid lots of users having to deal with.

For now, if you're running Ubuntu 20.10 then the best thing to do is keep using it and wait for Canonical to give the all clear, or for the upgrade notification to appear. Unfortunately, nobody knows how long it will be before the bug is fixed and upgrades are safe.