I have a headless server running Ubuntu 17.04 Server that is normally controlled by SSH from a Mac. The nags to upgrade to 17.10 led me to a "not recommended to perform a upgrade over ssh" dialog.

So to accomplish the upgrade directly, I hooked up a monitor and keyboard and found nothing would display. Reboots produce a brief "Ubuntu 17.04" at screen middle thereafter nothing but a blinking cursor in the upper left corner. But the SSH connection continues to work as it did before.

What do I need to do or what is missing to control the server directly using keyboard and display?

Next I created a bootable flash drive containing a Ubuntu 17.10.1 Server thinking that would be another way to install an upgrade.

The flash drive boots and prompts display normally on the monitor. The installation process for the hardware did not seem to have an option to upgrade an existing installation (17.04 in my case). I got very nervous about what settings and previous package installations might be destroyed, so the process was aborted.

Is this booting from a flash drive a reasonable way to upgrade?

Thanks for answers and any suggestions.

  • 1
    Run the upgrade in screen if running over SSH. That way it doesn't terminate automatically when you lose yuor SSH connection. That risk of SSH disconnect is why they don't recommend it, but you can do the upgrade process within a screen session and that should protect the upgrade progress even if you disconnect from SSH (you just need to login then do screen -r to reattach to the session)
    – Thomas Ward
    Feb 5, 2018 at 20:42
  • Thanks Thomas Ward. But this noob knows little about screen. I assume you mean screen on the Mac using the cli. I now use the Terminal app for SSH connections to the Ubuntu Server. That app is also how I would also access screen. I don't get the advantage of screen. Terminal seems to reattach SSH sessions easily. Feb 6, 2018 at 0:00
  • @DLFuller I wasn't clear, I meant screen on the server. SSH to the server, then run screen, then run the upgrade command...
    – Thomas Ward
    Feb 6, 2018 at 14:29

1 Answer 1


Apology! I've answered my own question after a break and second look. And, learned a little about Virtual Terminals in Linux.

Me simply keying CTRL+AUX+F1 at the blank screen immediately got the login dialog on a virtual terminal. After that my upgrade simply required a sudo do-release-upgrade and following prompts.

I am still curious about what would happen with booting 17.10.1 from a flash drive and then trying to upgrade the server itself.

  • If you are curious, then backup your server and try it. Such tinkering and experimenting is the fun part. Worst case: You reinstall and then restore from the backup. Either way you learn something and have a fun afternoon. There is a great sense of accomplishment in breaking it, and then putting it back together again.
    – user535733
    Feb 6, 2018 at 4:01
  • @DLFuller you'd have to do a lot more manual steps to use the flash drive to upgrade a server edition. It's not designed that way, that installer.
    – Thomas Ward
    Feb 6, 2018 at 14:29

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