This is a critical bug. It led to a path requiring a clean install of
Ubuntu and a restore of user data from backups. The upgrade was
ultimately unrecoverable even when booting to a Live USB stick to
continue the upgrade.

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  Could not install 'gconf2' and upgrade frozen

Status in gnome-software package in Ubuntu:

Bug description:
  When performing a distribution upgrade from Ubuntu 16.04.3 xenial to
  17.04, a dialog is generated with the following messages:

  Could not install 'gconf2'
  The upgrade will continue but the 'gconf2' package may not be in a working 
state. Please consider submitting a bug report about it.
  dependency problems - leaving triggers unprocessed

  The dialog has a Close button. Clicking it closes the dialog but it
  then reappears again immediately. It is stuck in a loop.

  The distribution upgrade dialog continues in the background for a
  while. However, it then freeze having last reported "Configuring
  libpam-systemd (amd64)" in the "Installing the upgrades" step.

  ProblemType: Bug
  DistroRelease: Ubuntu 16.04
  Package: gnome-software 3.20.5-0ubuntu0.16.04.5
  ProcVersionSignature: Ubuntu 4.4.0-91.114-generic 4.4.76
  Uname: Linux 4.4.0-91-generic x86_64
  ApportVersion: 2.20.1-0ubuntu2.10
  Architecture: amd64
  CurrentDesktop: GNOME
  Date: Sat Aug 12 10:54:28 2017
  EcryptfsInUse: Yes
   PATH=(custom, no user)
  SourcePackage: gnome-software
  UpgradeStatus: Upgraded to xenial on 2017-08-12 (0 days ago)

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