When I log into my web server via SSH I see the information:

88 packages can be updated.
80 updates are security updates

I tried apt-get update then apt-get upgrade but each time I log in I still see the message about updates. How do I install them?

  • 2
    Did you try this first: sudo apt-get clean this should clean the cache. – user2635584 Sep 20 '13 at 16:02

Use this:

sudo apt update        # Fetches the list of available updates
sudo apt upgrade       # Installs some updates; does not remove packages
sudo apt full-upgrade  # Installs updates; may also remove some packages, if needed
sudo apt autoremove    # Removes any old packages that are no longer needed

Documentation about each apt option can be found in the the manpages for apt. These are also available by running man apt in your terminal.

Use of both upgrade and full-upgrade together is usually not needed, but it may help in some cases: see Debian documentation about Upgrades from Debian 9.

  • 35
    Should I always restart with sudo reboot after it? – hellboy Apr 9 '15 at 5:47
  • 1
    I needed to add -y for it to work. Ubuntu 17.10 – T04435 Feb 24 '18 at 21:21
  • 2
    @hellboy No need to every time. It will usually inform you if a reboot is required. – TheKarateKid Jun 12 '20 at 2:15
  • 3
    Just pointing out that apt full-upgrade performs the same function as apt-get dist-upgrade, if, like me, you're comparing the commands with other answers in this question. – kas Jul 31 '20 at 15:35

Execute all the commands by typing sudo once:

sudo -- sh -c 'apt-get update; apt-get upgrade -y; apt-get dist-upgrade -y; apt-get autoremove -y; apt-get autoclean -y'


sudo -s -- <<EOF
apt-get update
apt-get upgrade -y
apt-get dist-upgrade -y
apt-get autoremove -y
apt-get autoclean -y

or even shorter in a for loop (thanks @dessert!):

sudo bash -c 'for i in update {,dist-}upgrade auto{remove,clean}; do apt-get $i -y; done'

See the package management with APT maintenance commands documentation for more details.

  • 4
    You can combine dist-upgrade and autoremove by apt-get dist-upgrade --auto-remove. – jarno Jul 22 '19 at 8:01
  • 3
    There is no need to run both upgrade and dist-upgrade. – jarno Jul 22 '19 at 8:22
  • 3
    @jarno dist-upgrade can remove packages. Using upgrade first may avoid this, such as when new package versions satisfy dependencies more easily than old ones. I don't know how often this helps when upgrading packages within a stable release of Ubuntu, but it's recommended in some other contexts. Personally, I rarely use dist-upgrade in Ubuntu, and when I do, I never pass -y. But if one is to run dist-upgrade and pass -y, I think it's reasonable to perform the upgrade action first. – Eliah Kagan Jul 22 '19 at 11:36
  • 2
    @jarno while you can chain --autoremove together with the upgrade command of your choice, it is not advisable as it can end you up with an unclean state when one of the packages fails. A better was is to use the autoremove alone on a separate line after the update process is done, if you want to clean out the old config files too you can chain this with --purge. – Videonauth Jul 22 '19 at 12:18
  • @Videonauth oh, it depends how apt is implemented. I think it should be implemented so that it does not leave system in unclean state. – jarno Jul 22 '19 at 12:38

This is normal behavior.

The message you see on login has been appended to the server status 'Message-Of-The-Day', which is only updated each calendar day (or on server boot / startup). Have a look at the contents, using

cat /etc/motd

Still seeing the same updates available, after running

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

is to be expected. If you then re-run this command you will only be prompted for any further updates if even further (newer) updates have been released.

  • I'm noticing that any file changes in the whole system doesn't show until the next calendar day, is there a way for like "refresh" to start seeing changes right away? – 3lomahmed Feb 11 '16 at 7:24
  • Do you mean updates for the content of Message-Of-The-Day, or not getting what you want after running sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade ? – david6 Feb 11 '16 at 7:35
  • 3
    This is no longer true on 16.04. After "apt-get dist-upgrade" and a reboot I see "0 packages can be upgraded". – Bogdan Calmac Jun 24 '16 at 18:27
  • 2
    The '.. or on server reboot ..' statement above does cover that. – david6 Jun 24 '16 at 20:29
  • 3
    cat: /etc/motd: No such file or directory – xApple Jan 26 '17 at 19:17

Once your log into your server, run the command below.

sudo apt-get upgrade

It should do the trick. Maybe you just need to restart your server.

  • 3
    Thank you for your answer but I did try sudo apt-get upgrade. Restarting the server is out of the question because I have sites on it. – Marlin Oct 5 '12 at 14:04
  • 3
    if you installed an update that directly affects the kernel or it's a driver update or it's a critical security update, you need to restart the server. – Evandro Silva Oct 5 '12 at 14:11
  • Maybe you should consider an error 503 for a minute. Do you know what kind of update this is ? – NorTicUs Oct 5 '12 at 15:09
  • 1
    How can you give a 503 if the server is offline? – mcont Jan 12 '15 at 13:58

In my case, I had an incorrect or not accessible URL in /etc/apt/sources.list. After removing this URL, I was able to update all packages successfully.


sudo vi /etc/apt/sources.list
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

My (really late, I like necromancer badges :-) ) solution:

  1. Install wajig (once):

    sudo apt-get install wajig 
  2. When you want to update/upgrade fully your system

    wajig dailyupgrade

    (it will ask for password if needed, and do all the update, upgrade, dist-upgrade, and autoremove steps for you).


You may also need to do this -

sudo touch /etc/motd.tail

From - Ubuntu tells me I have packages to upgrade when I don't

It worked for me on 14.04


If you run apt-get update again after apt-get upgrade has been concluded, those messages at ssh login should go away.


this script is handy to automate updates including removing unneeded packages and performing a reboot only if the OS wants one


ssh -A -n -o StrictHostKeyChecking=no ${remote_user}@${remote_host} && \
sudo apt-get update && \
sudo apt-get -f install -y && \
sudo apt-get -o Dpkg::Options::="--force-confnew" -yy dist-upgrade -y && \
sudo apt-get autoremove -y && \
[ -f /var/run/reboot-required ] && \
echo "sudo reboot now" && \
sudo reboot now 

to run on your local box just leave off that first line doing the ssh

here is an alias I save in ~/.bashrc

alias doit='echo; kill $( ps -eafww|grep update-manager|grep -v grep | grep update-manager | tr -s " " |cut -d" "  -f2 ) > /dev/null 2>&1;  echo "sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade &&  [ -f /var/run/reboot-required ] && echo && echo reboot required && echo";echo;sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade &&  [ -f /var/run/reboot-required ] && echo && echo reboot required && echo '

then on terminal I just issue doit

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