[RESOLVED] well kind of.
I never found out the cause of the problem. I resolved the problem by removing and re-installing (unpacking) the server ones again. I am convinced the cause of the problem has somehow been my doing and therefore of lees (or none) importance to the community as it is unlikely someone else makes the same mistake ;).

Thank you Donald and David for your input.

regards
   peter petersson

Peter Petersson wrote:
Just unpacked and installed G v2.1 (geronimo-tomcat6-javaee5-2.1-bin.tar.gz) and G v2.1.4 (geronimo-tomcat6-javaee5-2.1.4-bin.tar.gz) on a fresh dev machine at work with Ubuntu 9.04 jaunty and Java 1.5.0_18 to start migrating from v2.1 to v2.1.4.
After installing some of our apps in G v2.1.4 I decided to shutdown the server and start up G v2.1 but encountered the startup failure shown bellow (trying to start gshell-geronimo/2.1.4).

Suspecting some process still running from the G v2.1.4 assembly (without being able to pinpoint any) I disabled startup scripts and restarted the comp and checked that no java process or geronimo process was running prior to new startup of G v2.1 but still get this error.

Anyone have ideas about what may cause this problem ? What have I forgot about(?) I am fairly sure it's something obvious ;)

I am starting with ./startup.sh (in G v2.1 bin) and don't have any fishy or otherwise suspicious environment var:s set (afaik). 

regards
  peter petersson

==> geronimo.log <==
20:19:43,943 INFO  [Log4jService] ----------------------------------------------
20:19:43,943 INFO  [Log4jService] Started Logging Service
20:19:43,943 INFO  [Log4jService] Runtime Information:
20:19:43,943 INFO  [Log4jService]   Install Directory = /usr/local/geronimo-tomcat6-javaee5-2.1
20:19:43,943 INFO  [Log4jService]   JVM in use = Sun Microsystems Inc. Java 1.5.0_18
  :
20:26:33,914 INFO  [Log4jService]   System property [sun.boot.class.path] = /usr/local/geronimo2/lib/endorsed/yoko-spec-corba-1.0-r615303.jar:/usr/local/geronimo2/lib/endorsed/yoko-rmi-spec-1.0-r615303.jar:/usr/lib/jvm/java-1.5.0-sun-1.5.0.18/jre/lib/rt.jar:/usr/lib/jvm/java-1.5.0-sun-1.5.0.18/jre/lib/i18n.jar:/usr/lib/jvm/java-1.5.0-sun-1.5.0.18/jre/lib/sunrsasign.jar:/usr/lib/jvm/java-1.5.0-sun-1.5.0.18/jre/lib/jsse.jar:/usr/lib/jvm/java-1.5.0-sun-1.5.0.18/jre/lib/jce.jar:/usr/lib/jvm/java-1.5.0-sun-1.5.0.18/jre/lib/charsets.jar:/usr/lib/jvm/java-1.5.0-sun-1.5.0.18/jre/classes
20:26:33,914 INFO  [Log4jService] ----------------------------------------------
 
==> geronimo.out <==
Booting Geronimo Kernel (in Java 1.5.0_18)...
Module  1/74 org.apache.geronimo.framework/gshell-geronimo/2.1.4/car              Server Startup failed

org.apache.geronimo.kernel.config.LifecycleException: load of org.apache.geronimo.framework/gshell-geronimo/2.1.4/car failed
    at org.apache.geronimo.kernel.config.SimpleConfigurationManager.loadConfiguration(SimpleConfigurationManager.java:276)
    at sun.reflect.NativeMethodAccessorImpl.invoke0(Native Method)
       :
       :