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In recent weeks, my Ubuntu 16.04 has started to receive updates that do not seem to have ever required restarting the system, although the updates come almost every day. Prior to this, I remember that approximately one out of three-four updates did require a restart.

I am concerned about whether this is ok or there might be something wrong in the way the updates are handled by the system. In particular, I have noticed that the System Monitor indicates unreasonably high activity after some of the recent updates if I do not restart the system. How should one know after what update the system needs to be restarted if the update itself does not seem to tell this any more?

I am asking this question because, lately, the launcher and the other desktop features disappeared after a logout or reboot. The problem was solved only with major help from a more competent friend also familiar with it from his own prior experience by:

sudo apt-get install --reinstall ubuntu-desktop
rm -rf ~/.compiz  ~/.config/compiz-1
cd .cache
mv compizconfig-1 compizconfig-1-OLD 
sudo reboot

I was then also readdressed to How to restore default Unity, where such a problem is discussed. I did not play with the system at all, I was only working as a user. I was not logging out for a long time, however, only suspending the computer, because logging out destroys the terminal window structure. (I could not find an option to preserve it otherwise.) Before the problem appeared, I had started to notice that the system was often too sluggish. The system monitor was also showing too much activity while I was not running any processes. Unless anything was wrong with the installation of the updates, my question is what may I myself have done wrong and how could I make sure similar problems will not arise in the future?

  • Most updates do not require restarts. If you use the Update Manager, it should show a notification, when a restart is required. – mikewhatever Mar 9 '18 at 23:40
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    There is no way for us to know if you may have done anything wrong. Usually, such problems are caused by playing with ccsm, and the commands you've executed remove config files, so that they get regenerated on the next login. They do not require a reboot, just logout/login, and I don't think there was any reason to reinstall ubuntu-desktop. Anyway, I hope it works now, and you may want to edit the question, and post stuff you really wanted to ask. – mikewhatever Mar 10 '18 at 18:30
  • It depends on the type of update of update. Most, if not all, user space updates should not require a reboot but Kernel changes do. So before you update ensure anything you want to keep is saved in case a reboot is needed and let update manager do its stuff. – Warren Hill Mar 22 '18 at 23:18
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Typically only kernel updates require a reboot. With 16.04 being a bit more mature, they are probably rolling our kernel updates less frequently. All of the other applications and services can typically be installed without a reboot.

This is one of the ways that Linux can be better than Windows, where you always have to reboot.

Depending on your setting, you may also be limited to security patches in you update.

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