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I came across an interesting reddit post titled "How do I update while maintaining a minimal desktop?".

The poster ran sudo do-release-upgrade on a Kubuntu 18.04 system which was created using the minimal install option (available in Ubuntu 18.04 and Ubuntu Mate 18.04 as well).

The result was an upgrade to a full version of Kubuntu 18.10.

My question: is there any way for a user of a minimal install of 18.04 to upgrade to a minimal 18.10 or must such users do a clean minimal install of 18.10.

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First of all I can't understand the trade-off of upgrading LTS to non-LTS.
LTS releases are highly recommended for real work. The non-LTS's 9 months support cycle is too short. Upgrading to non-LTS will result in 4 unneeded upgrades (18.04 LTS → 18.10 → 19.04 → 19.10 → 20.04 LTS) to next LTS.

TL;DR: but Ubuntu MATE upgrades normally with do-release-upgrade.

Below is a table for comparison for Ubuntu MATE:

|             Name           | Packages | max - min | upg.min - clean min |
|----------------------------+----------+-----------+---------------------|
| clean min UM 18.04.1       |  1678    |           |                     |
| upg.min UM 18.04.1 → 18.10 |  1715    |           |                     |
| max UM 18.04.1             |  1857    |    179    |                     |
| clean min UM 18.10         |  1598    |           |         117         |
| max UM 18.10               |  1826    |    228    |                     |

Legend:

  • clean min UM 18.04.1 - clean installation of minimal Ubuntu MATE 18.04.1;
  • upg.min UM 18.04.1 → 18.10 - clean installation of minimal Ubuntu MATE 18.04.1, upgraded to 18.10 with do-release-upgrade;
  • max UM 18.04.1 - clean installation of normal Ubuntu MATE 18.04.1;
  • clean min UM 18.10 - clean installation of minimal Ubuntu MATE 18.10;
  • max UM 18.10 - clean installation of normal Ubuntu MATE 18.10.

The result: yes, number of installed packages differ by 117 packages. But if I compare the list of packages from clean 18.10 and upgraded - they differ mostly by the libraries. No heavy packages were installed. You can see the diff.

  • I saw libreoffice in the diff, but it is not fully installed and does not launch. So in the MATE case the system is still minimal :) – N0rbert Oct 19 '18 at 11:10
  • I confirmed today that minimal Ubuntu Mate 18.04 >>> 18.10 remains minimal. So maybe there's a specific issue with Kubuntu. – DK Bose Nov 16 '18 at 11:19
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I tested upgrading minimal installs of Ubuntu, Ubuntu Mate (as has N0rbert in the accepted answer) and Kubuntu 18.04 to 18.10.

For each,
• I downloaded the 18.04.1 iso
• installed it using the minimal option in a VM
• ran sudo apt update and sudo apt full-upgrade
• rebooted
• changed software sources to notify of normal releases
• and ran sudo do-release-upgrade

Then, at the Continue [yN] Details [d]d prompt, I chose to view the details of what was proposed.

Both Ubuntu and Ubuntu Mate did not propose to include packages excluded from the minimal install whereas Kubuntu did. Upgrading the minimal install of Kubuntu 18.04 to 18.10 would install packages such as
akregator
cantata
kmahjongg
kmail
kmines
knotes
kontact
konversation
ksudoku
libreoffice-base
libreoffice-calc
libreoffice-draw
libreoffice-impress
libreoffice-math
and
libreoffice-writer
just to list a few well-known packages not present in the minimal install.

So I filed a bug :(

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