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I want to be sure if automatic updates are enabled on Ubuntu 12.04 server.

How exactly can I check this?

And how can I disable automatic updates if it's enabled?

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I am trying to build a server that is configured the same as others, and would really love it if somebody answered the simple questions, How can you check if auto updates are enabled... I understand how to turn them on and off relatively well... but would like to just know the status. – FreeSoftwareServers Jun 2 at 23:57
up vote 35 down vote accepted

There is a package that can be used to do this for you.

sudo apt-get install unattended-upgrades

or if unattended-upgrades already installed. Or you can checkout the Ubuntu docs

sudo dpkg-reconfigure -plow unattended-upgrades

That is the package you need to install. Once its installed edit the files

/etc/apt/apt.conf.d/10periodic
/etc/apt/apt.conf.d/20auto-upgrades

In that file you can set how often you want the server to update.

APT::Periodic::Update-Package-Lists "1";
APT::Periodic::Download-Upgradeable-Packages "1";
APT::Periodic::AutocleanInterval "7";
APT::Periodic::Unattended-Upgrade "1";

The file should look like that. The 1 means it will update every day. 7 is weekly.

/etc/apt/apt.conf.d/50unattended-upgrades

This files will let you chose what updates you want to make by choosing where apt can search for new updates and upgrades. ( My personal opinion on this is I would set it to security if this is a server )

Unattended-Upgrade::Allowed-Origins {
        "${distro_id}:${distro_codename}-security";
//      "${distro_id}:${distro_codename}-updates";

};

The variables ${distro_id} and ${distro_codename} are expanded automatically. I would comment out the updates entry and just leave security.

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4  
Should this be updated to mention /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/20auto-upgrades as this is where APT::Periodic::Update-Package-Lists "1"; and APT::Periodic::Unattended-Upgrade "1"; are kept by default on 13.10? – steakunderscore Mar 4 '14 at 0:24
    
also, on my Ubuntu Server 12.04 LTS the 50unattended-upgrades file already has only security updates set, so that default seems correctly set there and the file should not need to be edited. – Jeff Atwood May 15 '14 at 20:14
    
In my fresh ubuntu server, there is no /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/10periodic in there. There is unattended-upgrades package already installed and /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/50unattended-upgrades is there too. My question is, I manually added /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/10periodic and should I reboot my server so the configuration will take effect? – foresightyj Aug 14 '15 at 8:09
1  
This appears to be a guide on how to install and setup unattended upgrades, not how to assert upgrades are applying. – ThorSummoner Oct 29 '15 at 18:43

Check the logs at /var/log/unattended-upgrades/ to verify that your unattended upgrades are being applied.

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While I upvoted your answer, its the closest answer to what I need (currently), can you explain what I would want to look for? What does it look like if its enabled vs disabled! Thanks – FreeSoftwareServers Jun 3 at 0:00

(I made another answer, because my changes to LinuxBill's answer were rejected.)

There is a package that can be used to do enable automatic updates for you. It is called unattended-upgrades.

Use the following command to enable/disable automatic updates:

sudo dpkg-reconfigure -plow unattended-upgrades

That command will modify file /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/20auto-upgrades and may also modify /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/10periodic.

Alternatively you can enable automatic updates GUI way by software-properties-gtk in the Updates tab by changing setting in "When there are security updates:". That will modify files /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/10periodic and /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/20auto-upgrades.

Alternatively you can modify the aforementioned file(s) manually. In that file you can set how often you want update be called:

APT::Periodic::Update-Package-Lists "1";
APT::Periodic::Download-Upgradeable-Packages "1";
APT::Periodic::AutocleanInterval "7";
APT::Periodic::Unattended-Upgrade "1";

The file should look like that. The 1 means it will update every day. 7 is weekly. Variable APT::Periodic::AutocleanInterval determines how often "apt-get autoclean" is executed automatically. 0 means disable for these variables.

You can change the way unattended upgrades work by editing file /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/50unattended-upgrades. This file will let you choose what updates you want to make by choosing where apt can search for new updates and upgrades.

Unattended-Upgrade::Allowed-Origins {
      "${distro_id}:${distro_codename}-security";
//      "${distro_id}:${distro_codename}-updates";
//      "${distro_id}:${distro_codename}-proposed";
//      "${distro_id}:${distro_codename}-backports";
};

The variables ${distro_id} and ${distro_codename} are expanded automatically. In above only security updates are done automatically. You can extend automatic updates to any repository, see another question.

You may want to change

//Unattended-Upgrade::Remove-Unused-Dependencies "false";

to

Unattended-Upgrade::Remove-Unused-Dependencies "true";

That will automatically remove e.g. excessive old kernels so that /boot does not become full.

There is more information in Ubuntu docs.

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Automatic Updates are enabled by default. If not, to enable automatic updates, just press Ctrl+Alt+T on your keyboard to open Terminal. When it opens, run the command below.

sudo apt-get install unattended-upgrades

In server, you can also you can edit /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/50unattended-upgrades, and comment out update update you don't want to upgrade automatically. These edit must be done with root privileges.

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I don't think that's turned ON by default, at least not on a server installation. However, it looks like the package is indeed installed automatically even on servers. – Alexis Wilke Mar 5 '15 at 22:58

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