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These two nice SE posts (1, 2) comment on restarting one's ubuntu machine but they leave me with a few questions:

  1. How do you actually do the restart (I'm a beginner and using 12.04.1 LTS)?
  2. Should I always restart the system when prompted to?
  3. Does restarting the system affect access to it via SSH or there any other caveats one needs to think about before doing this?
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Should I restart when prompted?

Yes, you should. For most cases, a restart is required when an update to the Linux kernel has been installed. These updates are usually security updates, and then only come into effect after a reboot. Updates to normal applications such as Firefox come into effect after you restart the program. Firefox should prompt you to do this automatically, but other programs may not, so it's something to bear in mind.

How to restart:

To restart the computer in Ubuntu 12.04, click the power icon in the upper right corner of the screen, and select "Shut down...". In the dialog that appears, a "Restart" button should be visible. In Ubuntu 12.10, the restart option appears in the power menu directly.

To restart from the command-line, run this command:

$ sudo reboot

The downsides of restarting:

On the whole, restarting is a very safe operation, and I would not consider it in any way unsafe. Of course, when you restart the computer, you lose all the information in RAM, so make sure you save all open documents and files before shutting down your computer. While you are restarting, your computer will of course be offline for a few minutes. If you're running a server, it will be down for a few minutes. If you have an open SSH session, it will be terminated.

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Just to add to the downsides: If you have any process running, like memcache, MySQL, a mounted disk, etc.., those might not return after the reboot (depends on how they were configured). Also, it's best to shut them down manually before the reboot. – Noam Jun 14 at 8:55
@Noam: To answer your first point, that's true, but wouldn't you rather discover that when you're there to reboot the machine rather than when the kernel panics in the middle of the night? For your second point, why would it be best to shut them down manually? It's the same process either way. – Flimm Jun 14 at 9:03
1) I agree the term downside isn't exactly correct, but I do think it's important to be aware of this, and to plan the process accordingly 2) Is it? I'm sure you're much more knowledgable than I am on these issues, but I was under the impression doing a manual service stop/graceful can be both be safer and you'll also be able to see any on-screen errors/warnings. Am I wrong? – Noam Jun 14 at 14:41
  1. How to restart:

    $ sudo reboot


    $ sudo init 6
  2. Yes as its most probably a security updates.

  3. Nothing will affect ssh connectivity after restart.

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Always try to Restarting the pc after ubuntu updates, install drivers and some application that wants to restart the OS(ubuntu).

when new updates are installed or driver is installed these wants to restart the OS for working performance and properly use.

Normal application or package don't need to restart the OS after installed.

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  1. Another option is using sudo shutdown -r now

  2. If prompted, you should do so; as system have things need to be applied (most common if you choose to download and install updates automatically, or you have changed something yourself that requires a reboot to apply changes to your system).

  3. SSH will definitely be affected on a reboot and it will be terminated. I may suggest Putty as it will give an option on its context menu to reconnect the session.

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