Since I first started using Ubuntu back in ’09 with 9.04 I had issues with my software RAID array roughly about every other time I am trying to upgrade to a newer version. Almost everytime the issue lies in GRUB not being able to install/update itself properly, so I end up just doing that manually from the rescue disk – process I have unintentionally learned by heart.
This time around, when I upgraded from 11.04 to 11.10 – it was a different issue. System failed to boot and dropped into initramfs/BusyBox with failure to assemble one of the software RAIDs. Apparently there was an update introduced in 11.10(I believe) that prevents system to boot if there is any software RAID array that it could not assemble fully. This could be an issue if for example your drives got mixed or, like in my case, I had one older RAID array defined that was not properly removed, but was always deactivated.
There is a pretty long, yet interesting conversation here on this matter: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/mdadm/+bug/872220
The way to solve this for me was to hit Ctrl-D when it dropped into initramfs/BusyBox, select ‘root shell’ and fix the issue – properly deactive the array I didn’t need and fix my working RAID array, that got degraded and needed to rebalance.
Oh, well… The Ubuntu upgrade process is still not there.