In preparation for next month's release of Ubuntu 24.04 codenamed Noble Numbat, I downloaded the daily build from March 11, 2024 and attempted to install it in both Parallels and VirtualBox with less than stellar results. The TLDR version is that I did not succeed in installing the system. Read on for much more detail.


Before installing any new operating system - even as a virtual machine - it is best to make sure that your computer is up to date. Since I am still using an older Intel-based MacBook Pro, I verified that the system is running on Sonoma 14.4 and that no other updates were available. I also made sure that my copies of Parallels and VirtualBox were the most current available. VirtualBox is not licensed because I do not use their Extension Pack. Downloading and installing the Extension Pack opens you up to a slew of spam through email and over the phone from the most annoying call centers in the world. But that is for a separate article. Once I confirmed that all software on the computer was up-to-date, it was time to download the daily build and run with it.

Desktop Creation

Creating a new virtual machine in both Parallels and VirtualBox was straightforward. For Parallels, I accepted the default recommendations of 2 CPU and 2GB RAM. Since I have the space available, I allocated 60GB for the hard drive. As hard drives are thin provisioned, this did not take any more room than the default install of 25GB, but it would give the image room to grow. I did really intend to use it as a desktop/derver to test things out before considering installation in my corporate environment.

Immediate issues

The machine was able to boot properly to the standard text screen that asks if you want to try or install Ubuntu. It looked promising. The windowed environment loaded successfully, but at the tail end presented a warning message stating, "Sorry, Ubuntu 24.04 has experienced an internal error." At this point I had the option of sending the provlem report to Canonical developers, or skipping the report and continuing with the install. The first time this appeared, I opted to send the report to Canonical; however, I was thwarted when it was unable to connect to the network because the system had not yet been fully configured. On subsequent installs, I opted for "Don't send" only to be presented with the same error a second time.

Once I cleared the second error, installation proceeded. I was able to select my language (English), my time zone (America/Chicago), and set a password. The system started copying files from the ISO to the hard drive, and things looked like they were going smoothly. At least until they weren't.

Ultimately, the system appeared to stop functioning at the point of "Installing the system" after the files had been copied from the ISO. The animated progress bar at the bottom was no longer animated, and it was impossible to switch to any other task or cancel the install. I checked the stats on the VM and CPU was bouncing between 98 and 99 percent utilization with the allocated RAM at 100%. This can mean two things: Either the machine was frozen, or it was working really hard. Not one to be easily dissuaded, I let it run for an hour in the background while I took a lunch.

Upon returning from lunch, the system was still frozen and unusable. The only thing that could be done was to forcefully shut off the VM, delete it and any associated files, and try again. Again, it failed with the same behaviors. I switched from Parallels to VirtualBox and had the exact same results - same error messages appearing twice, same working parts of the install process, and same freeze immediately upon the notification of "installing the system."

Server Creation

Of course, all of the above testing was performed with the desktop build of the OS.  How would the server image fare?  Not any better.
Since there are a couple issues with a flashing screen in the GUI installer, I thought that perhaps the issue is with the GUI itself.  It is unclear from the install whether it is using X11 or Wayland.  I later found that it is X11 until the installation completes.  If the problem is with graphics of any kind, why not test the text-based installer that I am accustomed to when building out servers?  So I downloaded the server ISO and retried.
The errors are not the same, but there are still errors that prevent the installation.  It appears to go through everything successfuly and only fails when performing the final system configuration.  It pops up a warning to let you know of the failure and asks if you would like to report the issue, restart the installation or shutdown and give up.  I tried all options.  Reporting appears to work properly.  Restarting the installation functions but eventually gets you back to the same failure message.  Rebooting caused my system to hang at "rebooting now".  Again, this was an absolute failure of a test.

Is this the end?

Not quite.  I actually did get a workable image installed using the server ISO.  It is running kernel 6.8.0-11-generic currently.  Despite the fact that it failed at the end of the install, I was able to eject the ISO and do a forced reset of the VM.  Magically, the system came up and let me log in to the system. Sudo is working which tells me that it went through the system install followed by the full user creation which is one of the last things performed during an install.
Because of the failure message, I do not know how much if anything is missing from the final install.  I do know that it is a cli-only installation.  If you rely on a GUI, you should just wait.  If you are like most system administrators you should give it a try and let the developers know of any issues you encounter.  I am quite comfortable with the command line and seldom if ever use a GUI unless it is purpose built as a desktop system and not a server.
Since I do not know precisely what failed and what might be missing, I am not ready to rely on this to serve anything.  I will play around with it and make sure all of the typical administration tools I use are functioning properly.  I will update this article with any findings.

At this point, I am only willing to state that the issue is with the particular daily build. I had downloaded it a second time even though it is 4.9GB. Nothing changed the behavior. If time permits, I will try to grab an older daily build or just wait for tomorrow's build. With less than a month until final release I am hoping that this is just a temoprary issue and the developers are still working on it. I am assuming the issue is widespread, but will test this theory by attempting to install in under ProxMox or Nutanix.

As they say, do not attempt to install this pre-release software and expect it to be used in production. It is not yet production ready. Make sure that you are either installing this in a VM or on a machine that you already intend to reformat. Your mileage may vary.

Here's hoping the installation bugs get ironed out sooner rather than later.  This is not yet beta code and I happen to be using images from this week.  As I discovered, this is testing week so I expect there to be a lot more issues than normal as they are heavily fixing any bugs that crop up through testers more experienced with building distributions than myself.  My issues are reported, so I feel better about that.  
[UPDATE] - Thinking it was just a bad build, I downloaded the March 6 daily build but encountered the same results.  Time to try Nutanix or ProxMox.  I am not in any big hurry since this is testing week as I said previously.  I think at this point I will just wait for the official beta and give that a run through instead of continuing with the developer releases.