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My question is related to Ubuntu tells me I have packages to upgrade when I don't, which pertains to Ubuntu 10.04. But my problem is with Ubuntu 12.04.2LTS (and the solutions mentioned for 10.04 do not work).

Based on what I learned from that question, and related questions on ServerFault (also with unhelpful answers), I have tried running /usr/lib/update-notifier/apt-check --human-readable, but it returns wrong information (the same information which gets added automatically to /etc/motd and displayed at every login via ssh):

6 packages can be updated.
6 updates are security updates.

Just today I ran sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade and there was one regular update available (plus 3 kernel packages, which were held back). But my update and upgrade did not change the output of apt-check. I have been having this problem for a while and just decided to look into it today.

For 10.04, I have seen fixes related to /etc/motd.tail, but no such file exists on my system.

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Clear the package cache and download it again:

sudo dpkg --clear-avail

sudo apt-get update

If it doesn't solve the problem, create an empty motd.tail:

sudo touch /etc/motd.tail

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Thanks for the ideas, but I figured it out. Nothing was broken; it was just a case of confusing/misleading messages. – Lambart May 18 '13 at 19:17
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Well, it turns out the apt-check message was correct. But the apt-get upgrade message was misleading. It said:

The following packages have been kept back:
  linux-headers-server linux-image-server linux-server
0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 3 not upgraded.

This naturally leads one to believe that there are only 3 packages which could potentially be downloaded and installed/upgrade.

But when I did sudo apt-get install linux-server (the only way I know to get past the 'kept back' status on upgrade), it said: 3 upgraded, 3 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.

That's right, 3 + 3 = 6 packages, just like apt-check said! And after the install/upgrade, a fresh login shows no available updates.

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