Using apt upgrade and apt dist-upgrade is quite confusing since the output usually looks something like this. Is there an option or possibility to make the output better readable?

$ sudo apt upgrade
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
Calculating upgrade... Done
The following packages will be upgraded:
  apache2 apache2-bin apache2-data apache2-utils apport apt apt-utils bind9-host bsdutils dnsutils e2fsprogs fdisk grub-common grub-pc grub-pc-bin
  grub2-common irqbalance kmod landscape-common libapt-inst2.0 libapt-pkg5.0 libbind9-160 libblkid1 libcom-err2 libcups2 libcupsimage2
  libdns-export1100 libdns1100 libdrm-common libdrm2 libext2fs2 libfdisk1 libglib2.0-0 libglib2.0-data libirs160 libisc-export169 libisc169
  libisccc160 libisccfg160 libkmod2 libldap-2.4-2 libldap-common liblwres160 liblxc-common liblxc1 libmount1 libnss-systemd libpam-systemd
  libparted2 libpython3-stdlib libpython3.6 libpython3.6-minimal libpython3.6-stdlib libsmartcols1 libss2 libsystemd0 libudev1 libuuid1
  linux-firmware lxcfs lxd lxd-client mount open-iscsi open-vm-tools parted psmisc python-apt-common python3 python3-apport python3-apt
  python3-distupgrade python3-gdbm python3-minimal python3-problem-report python3-software-properties python3-update-manager python3.6
  python3.6-minimal snapd software-properties-common sosreport systemd systemd-sysv tar tmux ubuntu-keyring ubuntu-release-upgrader-core udev
  unattended-upgrades update-manager-core update-notifier-common util-linux uuid-runtime
94 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
Need to get 115 MB of archives.
After this operation, 14.1 MB of additional disk space will be used.
Do you want to continue? [Y/n]

From that I have to decide if it is safe to upgrade or not. The packagelist is just plain ugly and confusing. I would like to have a better overview about what will be upgraded.

For example, yum (from CentOS) gives a much cleaner view when upgrading. One can easily see which packages will be upgraded, to which version (e.g., if it is a small or major version jump) and also how big the pacakge is to download.

$ sudo yum update
Loaded plugins: changelog, fastestmirror
Setting up Update Process
Loading mirror speeds from cached hostfile
 * base: centos.mirrors.as250.net
 * epel: ftp.plusline.net
 * extras: ftp.hosteurope.de
 * updates: ftp.plusline.net
Resolving Dependencies
--> Running transaction check
---> Package geoipupdate.x86_64 0:2.2.1-2.el6 will be updated
---> Package geoipupdate.x86_64 0:3.1.1-2.el6 will be an update
---> Package gsoap.x86_64 0:2.7.16-6.el6 will be updated
---> Package gsoap.x86_64 0:2.7.16-7.el6 will be an update
--> Finished Dependency Resolution

Dependencies Resolved

 Package                     Arch                   Version                      Repository            Size
 geoipupdate                 x86_64                 3.1.1-2.el6                  epel                  37 k
 gsoap                       x86_64                 2.7.16-7.el6                 epel                 199 k

Transaction Summary
Upgrade       2 Package(s)

Total size: 236 k
Is this ok [y/N]:
  • 1
    Another option, use a narrower terminal window. Humans are not too good at reading more than 70 chars per line. – gboffi Feb 8 '19 at 14:06
  • You should always upgrade all packages, period. – fkraiem Oct 13 '19 at 23:55
  • @fkraiem You miss the point. Top priority is that the business software runs. Therefore I want to know which packages get an upgrade, since I know which packages are used by the software I will check the changelog of these packages and maybe do a test on a test system before updating the production system – masgo Oct 21 '19 at 0:30

You can get this better output by asking for more verbose version output (-V, --verbose-versions, see man apt-get):

# apt upgrade -V
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
Calculating upgrade... Done
The following packages will be upgraded:
   apt (1.6.2 => 1.6.8)
   base-files (10.1ubuntu2 => 10.1ubuntu2.3)
   bsdutils (1:2.31.1-0.4ubuntu3.1 => 1:2.31.1-0.4ubuntu3.3)
   util-linux (2.31.1-0.4ubuntu3.1 => 2.31.1-0.4ubuntu3.3)
26 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
Need to get 8002 kB of archives.
After this operation, 46.1 kB of additional disk space will be used.
Do you want to continue? [Y/n]

Also see apt list --upgradable (has highlighted output!):

$ apt list --upgradable
Listing... Done
apt/bionic-updates 1.6.8 amd64 [upgradable from: 1.6.2]
base-files/bionic-updates 10.1ubuntu2.3 amd64 [upgradable from: 10.1ubuntu2]
util-linux/bionic-updates 2.31.1-0.4ubuntu3.3 amd64 [upgradable from: 2.31.1-0.4ubuntu3.1]
  • 2
    This is a great solution. yum is still slightly cleaner in it's output, but this is 95% of it. I can live with that. Since this question attracted so may, I will leave it open for another day or two until accepting your answer. – masgo Feb 8 '19 at 18:36

I see two solutions:

  1. use simulation in apt/apt-get:

    $ sudo apt dist-upgrade --simulate
    Reading package lists... Done
    Building dependency tree       
    Reading state information... Done
    Calculating upgrade... Done
    The following packages were automatically installed and are no longer required:
      linux-headers-4.15.0-20 linux-headers-4.15.0-20-generic linux-image-4.15.0-20-generic linux-modules-4.15.0-20-generic
    Use 'sudo apt autoremove' to remove them.
    The following NEW packages will be installed:
      libllvm7 libwayland-egl1
    The following packages will be upgraded:
      apt apt-utils bsdutils cups cups-bsd cups-client cups-common cups-core-drivers cups-daemon cups-ipp-utils cups-ppdc cups-server-common
      deja-dup e2fsprogs fdisk gir1.2-nma-1.0 gir1.2-totem-1.0 gjs gnome-shell-extension-ubuntu-dock grub-common grub-pc grub-pc-bin
      grub2-common gvfs gvfs-backends gvfs-bin gvfs-common gvfs-daemons gvfs-fuse gvfs-libs irqbalance kmod libapt-inst2.0 libapt-pkg5.0
      libasound2 libasound2-data libblkid1 libcairo-gobject2 libcairo2 libcom-err2 libcups2 libcupscgi1 libcupsimage2 libcupsmime1 libcupsppdc1
      libdrm-amdgpu1 libdrm-common libdrm-intel1 libdrm-nouveau2 libdrm-radeon1 libdrm2 libegl-mesa0 libegl1-mesa libext2fs2 libfdisk1 libgbm1
      libgjs0g libgl1-mesa-dri libgl1-mesa-glx libglapi-mesa libglx-mesa0 libkmod2 libmount1 libnma0 libnss-myhostname libnss-systemd
      libpam-systemd libsmartcols1 libsmbclient libss2 libsystemd0 libtotem0 libudev1 libuuid1 libwayland-client0 libwayland-cursor0
      libwayland-egl1-mesa libwayland-server0 libwbclient0 libxatracker2 linux-firmware mesa-va-drivers mesa-vdpau-drivers mount
      network-manager-gnome python-apt-common python3-apt python3-distupgrade python3-update-manager rfkill samba-libs snapd systemd
      systemd-sysv tar thermald totem totem-common totem-plugins ubuntu-release-upgrader-core ubuntu-release-upgrader-gtk udev update-manager
      update-manager-core update-notifier update-notifier-common util-linux uuid-runtime
    108 upgraded, 2 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
    Inst bsdutils [1:2.31.1-0.4ubuntu3.2] (1:2.31.1-0.4ubuntu3.3 Ubuntu:18.04/bionic-updates [amd64])
    Conf bsdutils (1:2.31.1-0.4ubuntu3.3 Ubuntu:18.04/bionic-updates [amd64])
    Inst libext2fs2 [1.44.1-1ubuntu1] (1.44.1-1ubuntu1.1 Ubuntu:18.04/bionic-updates [amd64]) [e2fsprogs:amd64 on libext2fs2:amd64] [e2fsprogs:amd64 ]
    Conf libext2fs2 (1.44.1-1ubuntu1.1 Ubuntu:18.04/bionic-updates [amd64]) [e2fsprogs:amd64 ]
    Inst e2fsprogs [1.44.1-1ubuntu1] (1.44.1-1ubuntu1.1 Ubuntu:18.04/bionic-updates [amd64])
  2. use interactive form of Aptitude instead of plain apt/apt-get


    Note: I have collapsed the Packages to be upgraded section for readability of other sections.

  • Thank you for the suggestions. Aptitude is nice, but I had some problems with it in the past when things got messy (short story: the dependencies where in fact impossible to fulfill. aptitude though it could fulfill them and did the upgrade; which broke the system). But it's still nice to have multiple options on the table. – masgo Feb 8 '19 at 18:44
  • If you're going to do a dry run first (simulate), then you can pipe the output into awk or sed, etc. configured to make the output look any way you like. – Joe Feb 14 '19 at 18:50

Im using this

apt list --upgradable | column -t | awk '{print $1"\t"$2"\t"$6}' | column -t | tr -d "]"

groot@debian:~# apt list --upgradable | column -t | awk '{print $1"\t"$2"\t"$6}' | column -t | tr -d "]"

e2fslibs/stable                    1.44.5-1+deb10u2                     1.44.5-1+deb10u1
e2fsprogs-l10n/stable              1.44.5-1+deb10u2                     1.44.5-1+deb10u1
e2fsprogs/stable                   1.44.5-1+deb10u2                     1.44.5-1+deb10u1
gir1.2-ibus-1.0/stable             1.5.19-4+deb10u1                     1.5.19-4
libcom-err2/stable                 1.44.5-1+deb10u2                     1.44.5-1+deb10u1
libexpat1/stable                   2.2.6-2+deb10u1                      2.2.6-2
libext2fs2/stable                  1.44.5-1+deb10u2                     1.44.5-1+deb10u1
libibus-1.0-5/stable               1.5.19-4+deb10u1                     1.5.19-4
libibus-1.0-dev/stable             1.5.19-4+deb10u1                     1.5.19-4
libss2/stable                      1.44.5-1+deb10u2                     1.44.5-1+deb10u1
libssl1.1/stable                   1.1.1d-0+deb10u2                     1.1.1c-1
linux-image-4.19.0-6-amd64/stable  4.19.67-2+deb10u1                    4.19.67-2
linux-libc-dev/stable              4.19.67-2+deb10u1                    4.19.67-2
openssh-client/stable              1:7.9p1-10+deb10u1                   1:7.9p1-10
openssh-server/stable              1:7.9p1-10+deb10u1                   1:7.9p1-10
openssh-sftp-server/stable         1:7.9p1-10+deb10u1                   1:7.9p1-10
openssl/stable                     1.1.1d-0+deb10u2                     1.1.1c-1
tzdata/stable-updates              2019c-0+deb10u1                      2019b-0+deb10u1
wpasupplicant/stable               2:2.7+git20190128+0c1e29f-6+deb10u1  2:2.7+git20190128+0c1e29f-6

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