..... My advice would now be to not do any Linux or python updates. & save a copy of the VM files.
Hoping to avoid some automatic version update that kills the functionality, I haven't turned it on since seeing @TCMB371's post on 28Sept2020 about the problem with version dependencies. In fact, it probably hasn't been turned on since at least a month or more before that. If the answer is yes, how do I turn off the problematic updates? I can shut down all of the networks and internet access at the house if necessary while doing that.