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On desktop machines, the Update Manager application is able to show the details of a package upgrade in the section called "Description of update" in the bottom half of the screen. Is there a way to see this information for a server machine using the command line?

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You can try playing around with aptitude - The text-based package manager. – JohanSJA Aug 4 '11 at 6:05
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Install apt-listchanges, it will show the changes through pager and also mail them (to root, I think).

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You can combine the names of upgradable packages, obtained by

/usr/lib/update-notifier/apt-check -p

with the packages description obtained by apt-cache. Here is a script that do that:


{ /usr/lib/update-notifier/apt-check -p 2>&1; echo; } |
  while read pkg; do
    echo "Package: " $pkg
    echo "Description:"
    apt-cache --no-all-versions show $pkg | 
      awk '/^ /'

Some difficulties resolved above are that apt-check -p send output to stderr and do not write a newline on the last line.

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