I am using Ubuntu 12.04 right now. If I use the command sudo apt-get dist-upgrade will that upgrade my Ubuntu to 12.10? Does that mean I won't be using the LTS version after that? I don't want to use Ubuntu 12.10 because I've already tried it and it's very heavy for my netbook.


You can read the man-page of apt-get to see what each command do.

Open the manual

man apt-get

Find the section dist-upgrade and read


       in addition to performing the function of upgrade,
       also intelligently handles changing dependencies with new versions
       of packages; apt-get has a "smart" conflict resolution system, and
       it will attempt to upgrade the most important packages at the
       expense of less important ones if necessary. So, dist-upgrade
       command may remove some packages. The /etc/apt/sources.list file
       contains a list of locations from which to retrieve desired package
       files. See also apt_preferences(5) for a mechanism for overriding
       the general settings for individual packages

See also: What is “dist-upgrade” and why does it upgrade more than “upgrade”?

In order to upgrade Ubuntu to a newer release you have to run in terminal

sudo do-release-upgrade

We read from the man-page

man do-release-upgrade


Upgrade the operating system to the latest release from the command-line. This is the preferred command if the machine has no graphic environment or if the machine is to be upgraded over a remote connection

  • 12
    I'd love a TL;DR; too, though – George Sep 6 '16 at 15:02
  • 1
    If you prefer a nice GUI, use: sudo do-release-upgrade -f GTK – Tim Visee Sep 16 '19 at 11:42

No, sudo apt-get dist-upgrade will not upgrade to a new Ubuntu release. It will just install available updates for the Ubuntu release you already have installed.

Unlike sudo apt-get upgrade it may install new packages or remove installed packages if that is necessary to satisfy dependencies. So be careful when using it.

  • what do you mean by remove installed packages? why it remove installed packages? So how suppose I use dist-upgrade? – albilaga Nov 10 '12 at 5:36
  • 1
    It may remove a package if there's a conflict between packages or dependencies that can't be satisfied. Usually you don't need to use dist-upgrade. It may be useful if upgrade tells you that some packages are hold back, but you should carefully review what it wants to do, especially if it want to remove packages. – Florian Diesch Nov 10 '12 at 5:51
  • I'll claim this answer is false. If the /etc/apt/sources.list* has been altered to point to a new release, then apt-get dist-ugprade indeed will (attempt to) upgrade to a new release. Not something that is likely to happen to a casual user, though. – Peter V. Mørch Dec 11 '18 at 15:16
  • 1
    @PeterV.Mørch In fact, the do-release-upgrade tool does exactly that: update the contents of /etc/apt/sources.list, disables or modifies the extras in /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ and then calls apt-get dist-upgrade. – Paul Stelian Aug 7 '20 at 15:09

If you do not want to upgrade to non-LTS versions, follow these steps:

  • Open Ubuntu Software Center.

  • Go to Edit -> Software Sources.

  • Go to the Updates tab and make sure you have selected For long-term support versions in the Notify of a new Ubuntu version.

enter image description here

  • Open a terminal and run sudo apt-get update (just to be sure :) ).

  • Now, when you run sudo apt-get dist-upgrade it'd be upgraded to the next LTS version and not non-LTS versions.

  • In Ubuntu 16 this program is called Software & Updates – Underverse Sep 10 '17 at 10:47
  • 1
    How do you do this operation from the command line? – Dan Pritts Feb 6 '18 at 4:13
  • From command line: software-properties-gtk – foolo Jul 7 '20 at 12:54

you cannot jump from 12.04 to 13.04 directly you would have to have update manger set to normal then do

sudo apt-get dist-upgrade


sudo do-release-upgrade

the difference between the commands is that dist-upgrade wants you to change your config files during the upgrade

they both will upgrade your dist when the time comes sudo apt-get upgrade only upgrades the software on your system it does not install or remove packages like dist-upgrade.

  • 1
    If you are running an alternative desktop like cinnamon or mate and you run do-release upgrade it will remove cinnamon and keep the config files and your system will break cause it's looking for cinnamon and it's not there if you ran dist-upgrade it will change the config files system will remove cinnamon and system will use gnome 3 instead you would have reinstall the desktop after doing the upgrade though – user112609 Dec 4 '12 at 13:26

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.