How to Update | Upgrade Software Ubuntu Desktop or Server

This brief tutorial shows students and new users how to update and upgrade software packages Ubuntu. This post applies to Ubuntu 18.04 | 16.04 and beyond.

New users and students will learn that the first thing after installing Ubuntu is to understand how to update software packages on Ubuntu systems.

One of the most effective ways to protect your systems is by updating them regularly. These updates and patches are released to fix security vulnerabilities, enhance performance and resolve platform issues.

Students and new users will also find out that the easiest place to start learning Linux is on Ubuntu Linux OS.

It’s a great Linux operating system for beginners.

Ubuntu is an open-source Linux operating system that runs on desktops, laptops, servers, and other devices.

While learning Ubuntu, you will find that Linux isn’t so different than Windows and other operating systems in so many ways, especially when it comes to using the system to get work done.

To learn how to update Ubuntu, follow the steps below:

Update Ubuntu via Terminal

There are multiple ways to update Ubuntu. You can do it from the command line terminal or console, and the desktop graphical user interface (GUI).

Ubuntu comes with an Advanced Packaging Tool (APT) tool that is powerful, easy to use, and handles package management.

It’s the default package management and installation tool for Ubuntu and other distributions.

To update Ubuntu from its terminal, simply press the Ctrl + Alt + Delete keys to open its console window when using a desktop computer.

Ubuntu Command Terminal Window

You can run the commands below on the terminal to check all package repositories for new versions.

sudo apt update

When you run the command above, it will prompt for your password.

The above command won’t update your system. It checks for newer versions of installed programs. When the command finishes executing, it displays a number of the package(s) that can be updated or upgraded if newer versions are available.

To view a list of upgradeable packages, simply run the commands below:

sudo apt list --upgradeable

The command above will list all upgradeable packages.

Upgrade Packages via Terminal

Now that you know which packages are available to upgrade, if you want to upgrade them simply run the commands below:

sudo apt upgrade

Running the commands above will prompt you for your password before executing. Only administrators and members of the administrator’s group are allowed to upgrade packages.

Running the commands above will list the packages to be upgraded and prompt you to accept the changes that will be done.

You can type Y for Yes.

When you type Y, all upgradeable packages will be upgraded.

To simplify the process, you run both commands at the same time on one line. Below is the simplified version of both commands above.

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade

Another command to use that’s not in the picture is the autoremove command. This command removes obsoletes packages not needed from your system to clear up disk space.

sudo apt autoremove

This is how one updates packages on Ubuntu via the command line terminal.

You can run the three commands above efficiently online as shown below:

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade && sudo apt autoremove

Continue below to learn how to update | and upgrade packages from the desktop.

Update | Upgrade Software from GUI

Now that you know to update and upgrade packages from the Ubuntu terminal, simply follow the steps below to learn how to upgrade packages from the Ubuntu desktop interface.

First, log on to the Ubuntu desktop.

When you log in, go to the Activities Menu, then search for Software Updater.

This is the GUI equivalent to the apt command line tool above.

Ubuntu Software Updater

When the tool opens, it will check for all available upgradeable packages.

If there are upgradeable packages, it will give you an upgrade to upgrade them. Simply click the Install Now button to begin upgrading.

Ubuntu update software

When you click the Install Now button, it will prompt you for your password. As mentioned above, only administrators and members of the administrator’s group can install packages on Ubuntu.

After typing your password, your computer will begin to upgrade packages.

The GUI tool doesn’t have options to remove obsolete packages from your systems. So you can use the command line option above to remove those packages that are no longer needed by your machines.

When your computer is fully up to date, when you run the Software Updater tool, it should display that your computer is fully updated.

Ubuntu up to date

That’s it!


This tutorial showed you how to update and upgrade software packages on Ubuntu systems. If you find any error above, please use the comment form below to report.


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