We are a small shop, with no real sysadmin. So developers (Java EE) also try to maintain Ubuntu server 12.04.

When I login a terminal and I see messages like:

6 packages can be updated.
6 updates are security updates.

Should all security updates always be installed? Can some be ignored? Should these be acted upon immediately? Or one could wait for 2:00 a.m. on the coming Sunday? Is there a way to know a "critical" update?

Is there a good sysadmin for dummies resource I should be reading?

  • I agree with what others have said below. I just want to add that when you see 6 packages that can be updated, and are security updates, 99 times out of 100, it will be an updated kernel. This means you need to update with sudo apt-get dist-upgrade.
    – reverendj1
    Sep 26, 2012 at 14:15
  • 'Yes', and pretty much always.
    – James K
    Sep 26, 2012 at 16:19
  • Possible duplicate of askubuntu.com/questions/27418/what-is-a-security-update
    – user76204
    Sep 26, 2012 at 16:38
  • @reverendj1: 99% of the time? Where do you get that statistic? In my experience, security updates come more than once a week, whereas kernel updates come rarely. Mar 26, 2013 at 10:29
  • 2
    @paddy landau - Yes. I am the admin for between 30 and 40 Ubuntu servers at work. EVERY time I've seen exactly 6 security updates it has been because of a kernel update.
    – reverendj1
    Mar 27, 2013 at 12:37

2 Answers 2


Generally security updates are about fixing serious BUGS in the current Ubuntu OS regarding Network, Security and all. If you are maintaining a web server or any web related things, then you must have them to be safe.

For example see here some issues: Ubuntu security notices | Ubuntu


If you're going to hold back any updates, I wouldn't hold back security updates.

There's a reason the server install has an install-time option of "automatically download and install only security related updates"

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