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How To Update Ubuntu Manually via Terminal

Ubuntu 5

In this article, we will walk you through the process of manually updating Ubuntu via the terminal. This guide is designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of the process, explaining the purpose of each command and its parameters.

Quick Answer

To update Ubuntu manually via the terminal, open the terminal using Ctrl + Alt + T, then run the following commands: sudo apt-get update to update the package lists, sudo apt-get upgrade to upgrade the packages, and sudo apt-get dist-upgrade to handle changing dependencies. If you want to upgrade to a newer major version of Ubuntu, use sudo do-release-upgrade. Remember to backup your data before performing system updates.


Ubuntu, like any other operating system, needs regular updates to ensure security and software compatibility. While the graphical interface provides an easy way to update your system, using the terminal can offer more control and feedback. This guide will focus on the terminal method, which is especially useful if you’re running a version of Ubuntu without a desktop environment, like Ubuntu Server.

The Importance of Regular Updates

Regular updates are vital for maintaining the performance, security, and stability of your Ubuntu system. Updates often include patches for security vulnerabilities and bug fixes for software issues. They can also include new features and improvements to existing ones.

Opening the Terminal

To start, you need to open the terminal. You can do this by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T on your keyboard or by searching for ‘terminal’ in your system’s application menu.

Updating the Package Lists

The first step in updating your Ubuntu system is to update the package lists. This can be done using the sudo apt-get update command.

sudo apt-get update

The sudo command is used to run the following command with superuser privileges. apt-get is the package handling utility in Ubuntu, and update is the command that updates the package lists. This command does not actually install any updates, it simply retrieves information about available updates.

Upgrading the Packages

After updating the package lists, the next step is to upgrade the packages. This can be done using the sudo apt-get upgrade command.

sudo apt-get upgrade

Again, sudo is used for superuser privileges. The upgrade command installs the newest versions of all packages currently installed on the system. It does not remove any packages or install any new ones, it simply updates the ones you already have.

Handling Changing Dependencies

Sometimes, new versions of packages require new dependencies or find old ones unnecessary. To handle this, you can use the sudo apt-get dist-upgrade command.

sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

The dist-upgrade command intelligently handles changing dependencies with new versions of packages. It may remove some packages if they are no longer needed and install new ones if they are required for the update.

Note: Always review the changes that apt-get will perform before confirming the operation, especially when using dist-upgrade.

Upgrading Ubuntu Version

If you want to upgrade to a newer major version of Ubuntu (e.g., from 18.04 to 20.04), you can use the do-release-upgrade command.

sudo do-release-upgrade

This command checks for the latest distribution release and upgrades to it. Before proceeding, make sure to backup any important data as this process makes significant changes to your system.


Regularly updating your Ubuntu system is crucial for maintaining its performance, security, and stability. While you can use the graphical interface for updates, using the terminal gives you more control and feedback. By following this guide, you should now be able to update your Ubuntu system manually via the terminal.

Remember, it’s always a good idea to backup your data before performing system updates, especially when upgrading to a new distribution release. If you encounter any issues during the update process, the Ubuntu community is a great resource for finding solutions.

Can I update Ubuntu without using the terminal?

Yes, you can update Ubuntu using the graphical interface. You can go to the "Software Updater" application or the "Updates" option in the system settings to update your system.

How often should I update Ubuntu?

It is recommended to update Ubuntu regularly, ideally once a week. This ensures that you have the latest security patches, bug fixes, and software updates.

Do I need to restart my computer after updating Ubuntu?

In most cases, you do not need to restart your computer after updating Ubuntu. However, some updates, such as kernel updates, may require a restart for the changes to take effect. If prompted to restart, it is recommended to do so.

Can I update specific packages instead of upgrading everything?

Yes, you can update specific packages by using the sudo apt-get install [package-name] command. This will update only the specified package to its latest version.

How can I check the current version of Ubuntu I am running?

You can check the current version of Ubuntu by opening the terminal and running the command lsb_release -a. This will display detailed information about your Ubuntu version.

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