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On my ubuntu vps, I've this error, What does it mean? Why were packages kept back? I was advised not to do dist-upgrade. My question is not how to solve this, but why this happened?

The following packages have been kept back:
  mysql-client-5.5 mysql-server-5.5 mysql-server-core-5.5
0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 3 not upgraded.
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marked as duplicate by Mitch, Uri Herrera, Radu Rădeanu, Seth, Kevin Bowen Jun 6 '13 at 5:05

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

up vote 8 down vote accepted

It's not an error, you should run apt-get dist-upgrade because in this case, the upgrade of mysql involve adding or removing some others packages. If you are afraid of doing so, you can also try to run apt-get install mysql-server-5.5 which will trigger the update of this particular package (and i think it will handle the 2 others as dependencies).

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