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I'm tired of Windows updates, the monthly and all the updates that doesn't update to a new OS, breaking something and thinking in to set Ubuntu as main OS. So I have some questions before I move to the new OS.

What happens when the EOS(End Of Support) dates arrives in Ubuntu? Can I keep my OS running?

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – andrew.46
    Jun 18, 2022 at 9:41
  • If any of the the answers below works for you, feel free to up vote the answer and accept the answer as correct by clicking on the gray check mark 🗸 next to the answer and turn it green ✅. This will mark your problem as solved and help others.
    – user68186
    Dec 14, 2022 at 5:59

4 Answers 4

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Ubuntu uses the unattended-upgrades package to automatically apply updates that are considered to be critical bugfixes and security updates. This is done in the background and does not interrupt use of your system. It will not force a restart, like Windows.

It can be disabled by removing the package with sudo apt remove unattended-upgrades.

However, this does not mean that you should never update your system. Regular updates are considered basic essential maintenance. It's generally considered best practice to fully update your system on a monthly basis, at a minimum.

There can be consequences for failing to update your system regularly.

There are the obvious reasons: you can open yourself up to security flaws and be subject to critical bugs.

However, Ubuntu/Debian/Linux also works very differently than Windows. In Windows, most applications are packaged with their own dependencies. In Ubuntu, most applications rely on other applications in the repositories (dependencies). One of the reasons you need to keep your system up-to-date is because in order for software to work properly, these dependencies need to be properly satisfied. While it may be commonplace for Windows updates to break things. It is probably more common in Linux for things to break when you don't keep things up-to-date.

In fact, when installing new software, you should make sure that your existing software is up-to-date before you attempt to add anything new. Failing to do this can result in dependency problems and a broken package management system.

There are also other considerations. For example, if you are running a standard release of Ubuntu, these releases only have 9 months of support after they are released. LTS releases enjoy longer support periods-- up to 5 years. If you do not keep your system up-to-date and you do not release upgrade before the end of support, you may find it difficult or impossible to release upgrade after the support period.

You can manually update your system any time with the following commands:

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade

As far as running a Ubuntu release past EOL or EOSS, it's not recommended. Once a release becomes unsupported, there are no longer package updates, including security updates and bug fixes. EOL and EOSS releases no longer receive community support, like on Ubuntu Forums and Ask Ubuntu. An EOL release is subject to all of the potential problems of not keeping an up-to-date system with the added burden of not having access to repositories.

There exists (Extended Security Maintenance) ESM support for LTS releases, however you must sign up for ESM support. The basic subscription to ESM is free for individuals, but does not include anything more than access to essential and critical updates. Updates that include new features are generally not offered, and there is no community support. Any additional support would need to be purchased from Canonical. Keep in mind that ESM is also designed for organizations and production environments where release upgrades involve a lot of moving parts that demand a lot extra testing and training and so forth. Even for organizations using ESM, it is strongly encouraged to migrate to a supported release as a priority. ESM is not designed for people who just don't want to update.

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    I work with my PC, I need to set many things and apps that took like 3 months to have the OS working as I need. all that is time and money that I loose for not having my PC ready to work.
    – E_Blue
    Jun 15, 2022 at 21:18
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    As I mentioned, you're more likely to break things by not keeping your system up-to-date. Like most things, regular maintenance keeps you from incurring a larger cost due to neglect. In this case, the cost is time. While on the subject of time, it seems horribly inefficient to take 3 months to set up an environment. Some time spent improving how you backup your system would resolve that fear. Even the most complex deployments should not take excessive amounts of time to restore from even a total failure.
    – Nmath
    Jun 15, 2022 at 21:22
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    I know is not efficient, that's the whole point. The main things I solve it in the first 2 weeks, but then, 2 weeks later, I notice that the mouse doesn't behave as I expect when scrolling inside an app; two days later the Ctrl key doesn't show the cursor location, another week VirtualBox VM can't access and USB port, then forgot to configure something in the Programing IDEs. I should make a list but probably will loose it. Continues...
    – E_Blue
    Jun 15, 2022 at 21:37
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    1 addition: snaps are updated by force and we can not stop them from updating unless you block updating through firewall rules.
    – Rinzwind
    Jun 15, 2022 at 21:56
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    This answer mixes personal experience with valuable information. There is not a fixed period of time that is "best" to update your system. Installing updates for security flaws is important, but let's not overstate the risk without understanding OP's risk profile and viable attack vectors. You're not more likely to break things by not updating your system. In the most extreme cases, Linux servers keep working for years with little more than security patches and pinned versions for critical applications precisely to ensure stability.
    – r_31415
    Jun 16, 2022 at 5:59
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This answer is based on the clarifications made by OP in the comments to the question. OP is not asking about distribution upgrades, but periodic security and other upgrades.

TL;DR

Does Ubuntu force updates like Windows or I can choose if I want to update?

No. Ubuntu does not force updates like Windows. You can choose if and when and which app or kernel you want to update.

You may choose not to update anything at all at your own risk. This is not recommended.

I will repeat it again: You should update your Ubuntu computer regularly at your own convenience.

What happens when the EOS(End Of Support) dates arrives in Ubuntu?

You stop getting all updates.

It becomes harder to upgrade to a more recent version once the installed version reaches EOS.

Questions about EOS versions of Ubuntu are off-topic in this site with the exception of upgrading to a current version.

Can I keep my OS running?

Yes. Yes.

Windows 10/11 Updates

Microsoft provides three kinds of updates/upgrades according to my understanding.

Patch Tuesday (AKA B Release)

These happen every second Tuesday of a month. Security and bug fixes are released. For home users, there is no escape. One has to install these updates sooner or later. Typically these monthly updates involves a reboot of the computer.

Feature Updates TwiceOnce a Year

Windows 10 (and 11) typically has a "new version" once(used to be twice) a year. These updates include new features of the OS, updated or new apps, sometimes a slightly different looks of the OS. They are typically numbered by the last two digits of the year followed by the letter "H" and either "1" or "2" depending on if it is released on the first or the second half of the year. For example, Windows 10 21H2 was released in the second half of 2021.

According to Windows 10 Release Information:

Beginning with Windows 10, version 21H2 (the Windows 10 November 2021 Update), feature updates will be released annually in the second half of the year via the General Availability Channel.

More details about annual feature updates for Windows 11.

One can decline this update and stay in 21H2 rather than update to 22H1. However, at some point in time, for example, June 13, 2023 for 21H2, Microsoft will stop providing the Patch Tuesday updates for this release.

Upgrade to Windows 11

This is not an update, but it appears as an update in the Windows 10 Update settings.

Ubuntu Updates

Unlike Windows, Ubuntu does not have any monthly "Patch Tuesday" updates or semi-annual/annual feature updates.

Ubuntu updates fall under two categories:

  1. Security updates
  2. Other updates

Ubuntu does not have any update schedules. Security issues and bugs are fixed as they happen and released at the earliest possible time. However, as an user of Ubuntu you can choose if and when to update your Ubuntu system.

Exception Snap: Some default applications in Ubuntu come in Snap packages and more are available in the Snap Store. Snap applications are confined, standalone Linux applications that bundle all their necessary dependencies, which means they do not need to rely on the underlying system. These Snap packages update on their own without any action from the user or the OS. This link has more information about how to manage Snap updates. Also see Pending Update of Snap Store

Ubuntu comes with an app called Software & Updateto help you make some of these choices. It is also possible to manually edit the appropriate configuration files (these are plain text files) and get more fine-grain results.

screenshot of update options

The picture above shows the Update tab of the Software & Updates app.

First: Choose which updates you want:

  1. All Updates
  2. Security and Recommended Updates
  3. Security Updates Only

Note, you must subscribe to one of the three above.

Second: Choose how frequently Ubuntu should check for updates:

  1. Daily
  2. Every Two Days
  3. Weekly
  4. Every Two Weeks
  5. Never

Note the last choice. If you select Never, you will never be notified of any pending updates. You will have to manually check for updates, and then you can decide whether to accept or reject them.

The next two options does not apply if you choose Never to automatically check for updates.

Third: What to do when there are security updates

  1. Display Immediately
  2. Download automatically (but do not install)
  3. Download and install automatically

Fourth: What to do when there are other updates

  1. Display Immediately
  2. Display weekly
  3. Display every two weeks

Finally: There is the matter of new versions of Ubuntu. Notify me of a new Ubuntu version:

  1. Any new version
  2. Long Term Support (LTS) version
  3. Never

When bugs strike:

If you know that a specific update for an app, say Firefox, has a bug, you can keep your installed version of Firefox and not update it by typing a command like:

sudo apt-mark hold firefox

And Firefox will not be updated again until you "unhold" it.

Similarly, there are means to revert back to the previous kernel if the new kernel has issues with your hardware.

Here is an example of a bug that was caused by an update and was fixed:

No system tray detected after latest update for some applications

On the GUI side, the Software Updater app will pop up if you decide above. If not, you may start the app anytime you want to update your computer.

The app will check for updates and display the available updates like this:

enter image description here

As you can see, there are both security and other updates available on this computer. You may highlight the upgrade and check the Technical Description. It will list changes from the installed version. In the picture above, you can see the two vulnerabilities were fixed in this security update to LibreOffice Calc. Then you may decide whether to update it or not.

Updates and Reboot

Unlike Windows, Most Ubuntu updates do not require a reboot. A reboot is only required if the most essential system files like kernels are updated. Ubuntu does not reboot the computer on its own or bother you with pop-ups about the reboot. You can reboot the computer when you want.

Livepatch

If you enable this service, on your computer you don't have to reboot your computer after kernel updates. This service requires creating an online account and signing in and is limited to three computers for free for personal use.

Upgrading to a new version of Ubuntu

There are two kinds of Ubuntu versions: 1. short term support (STS) and 2. long term support (LTS).

LTS versions are released in the even numbered years such as 2022, in the month of April. The newest LTS version of Ubuntu is 22.04. LTS versions are supported for 5 years. That is, you will get security and other updates for five years. Whether you ignore them or install them is up to you.

STS versions are supported for only 9 months. That is, you will get security and other updates for nine months from the date of release. A newer version of Ubuntu is released every fix months.

What happens at the end of life?

If you choose not to update your computer to a newer version of Ubuntu, before that version reaches the end of life, then your computer will not get any security and other updates and will not be supported in this site.

However, your computer will continue to keep working. You will not get any popup from Microsoft Canonical that your version of Ubuntu is not supported anymore and the sky is going to fall on you.

Recommendations

I recommend that you let Ubuntu automatically install security updates on your desktop computers if they are on 24/7. On laptops or computers that are only turned on occasionally I recommend checking for updates manually.

Hope this helps.

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    The "Upgrade" to Windows 11 is just an update to the DE and schedular, so it is technically just an update, although MS doesn't like to call it that way.
    – Irsu85
    Jun 16, 2022 at 12:46
  • @user68186 A correction in regards to Windows' twice a year feature update: Microsoft is returning to one major feature update a year on Windows 11, and New releases will ship in the second half of the year | windowscentral.com/windows-11-update-cadance Thanks.
    – Jags
    Jun 16, 2022 at 12:58
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    This is the most complete answer and I think the OP should mark it as the accepted one. Personally, I prefer to set security updates as well to "Display immediately" and explicitly, manually trigger installing of any updates. It should also be added that most updates don't require a reboot; only updates to basic system components like kernel or systemd require reboot, but you can postpone the reboot to whenever it is convenient to you.
    – raj
    Jun 16, 2022 at 12:58
  • I regularly run 'sudo apt-get -y update && sudo apt-get -y upgrade && sudo apt-get -y dist-upgrade && sudo apt-get -y autoremove' on all my linux computers. When the release reaches end-of-life I can install the newest LTS. For the computers that run headless, it's best to break out the spare monitor and keyboard for that.
    – Wastrel
    Jun 16, 2022 at 14:01
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    @preferred_anon I have added a bit about snap packages I have added a link to the Canonical official blog on how to manage and hold snap updates.
    – user68186
    Jun 16, 2022 at 20:43
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I think there is an important part of the Ubuntu ecosystem that needs to be mentioned, given that you explicitly complain about things like package regressions. Snaps are a software packaging framework that Canonical are extremely keen on pushing to their users. They are a convenient way to deploy software, but have nevertheless produced controversy in the community. Many popular applications are now packaged only as snaps, and a default Ubuntu user has little choice for opting out of them.

One "feature" of snaps is that the software publisher can force automatic updates of the software, outside the direct control of the user. The update can be delayed for a little bit, and sometimes regressions can be backed out of, but you are forced to eventually follow the main release track. The unfortunate serf who dislikes an update, or wants to postpone the update longer than they're permitted, is forced to package it themselves.

I recommend Debian, if this bothers you. To the best of my knowledge, they have retained the principle that the owner of a system is responsible for maintaining it. And it's very similar to Ubuntu in other respects.

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  • Thanks for your input. Yes, my idea is to have as much control as possible over my PC and its software and get away of the nasty "telemetry" that swarm all the devices nowadays and nobody seems to care. Even some Linux his now "supported" by big companies; nothing good can happen when an ambitious company take the control. Nothing is going to be really free anymore, that's scare me a lot.
    – E_Blue
    Jun 16, 2022 at 17:30
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    That's why I tend to avoid snaps and install everything as DEB packages if available (even if this means older versions of the apps). On the other hand, snaps are useful when you want to test an app that has a LOT of dependencies (eg. install an app designed for KDE if you are running GNOME, or vice versa). In that case snaps allow you to cleanly isolate the app, without cluttering your system with a lot of potentially incompatible packages.
    – raj
    Jun 16, 2022 at 18:01
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    @E_Blue Ubuntu is pretty much under the thumb of IBM. Debian is pretty user-friendly, I think. Personally I use Gentoo - I do recommend it, but there is a lot of complexity in maintaining it (for which you are rewarded with a lot of control). Jun 16, 2022 at 19:11
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    @raj There are other container-based packaging mechanisms that do not have the drawbacks mentioned. But yes, containers can be useful for isolating software from the rest of a system. Jun 16, 2022 at 19:13
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    @preferred_anon I just installed Debian MATE in a VM and testing how it works, is pretty fast booting and shooting down. It makes me feel like it really uses the full power of my CPU and hardware. This weekend I will try on a real disk and see what happens, wish me luck.
    – E_Blue
    Jun 16, 2022 at 19:29
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You can choose if you want but may I ask why? Ubuntu isn't like windows and updates don't break things. Also, updates don't install when you turn off or on the computer. The only time I've ever had an update break something is when the nvidia drivers were installed improperly. This is no longer a problem because nvidia drivers are available through the main repositories and updates are now integrated with system updates.

You have to understand that, unlike windows, ubuntu does all the software updates through the package manager. So when you do an update, you're simply checking if individual software packages need updates. If any are available, they are applied and it usually takes less than 60 seconds total. Since everything is in individual packages, there are no system updates that upgrade your entire interface like they do on windows.

More along the lines of a system update would be a kernel update which also usually takes less than 60 seconds to install. Again, this rarely breaks devices (driver issues) but if this does, you can always choose to boot an older kernel from your grub menu before you boot.

As for breaking the system, like I mentioned, the system will sometimes break if you've installed some third party driver manually. This case scenario is extremely rare as nearly all drivers are included in the Linux kernel or are available through the package manager or a ppa.

As for reverting your settings, this will not happen unless you explicitly allow it. If an update needs to replace a configuration file, it will ask you if you want to keep your existing version. Additionally, most settings are configured through your user's home directory and these configuration files are off limits to any updates.

More often than not, people run into problems with their system or installing software when they do not update their system. Personally, I update the system daily and don't have any issues. Windows is a completely different story.

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    I understand the security reason but I like to make my research BEFORE install something. Sometimes updates has regressions and/or make a bigger issue than the one is trying to solve. W10 is specialist in this. They release an update and then an update to solve the issues that the previous update created. I have a Retail Windows but I feel like I'm in the Beta tester channel and like I'm not the owner of my own PC. I paid for all, even the OS. This is madness.
    – E_Blue
    Jun 15, 2022 at 20:37
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    @E_Blue Like I said, those issues with regressions aren't an issue with Ubuntu. From my experience, you will run into those issues if you don't do updates. I loathe windows updates and it always breaks something. I do ubuntu updates daily because the updates fix bugs instead of introducing them. Also, Ubuntu updates don't mess with any of your settings and it won't uninstall or install extra software unless it asks for your permission.
    – mchid
    Jun 15, 2022 at 20:39
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    @E_Blue Also, for updates, it's mostly not about security. It's about keeping the system running properly. One unix motto is "do one thing and do it well". Because of this, there are many individual small packages instead of a few extremely complex large packages. However, these packages work together. If one is not updated and you install something new, this can cause problems so it's always best to have everything updated to avoid bugs and dependency issues.
    – mchid
    Jun 15, 2022 at 20:43
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    Biggest reason to the why: in a production environment you do not want updates. Our cloud instances are as is and we never update them because a failed reboot kills an instance. It is far better to create a new instance and attach your data partition to that new instance.
    – Rinzwind
    Jun 15, 2022 at 22:00
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    "those issues with regressions aren't an issue with Ubuntu" - i think you are wrong. Every software update has regressions, and Linux is no different.
    – Neil
    Jun 16, 2022 at 16:34

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