I'm running Xubuntu 12.10 and started getting the "Partial Upgrade" dialog from Software Updater a few weeks ago. I did some reading, and from what I understand, this can solve itself within a short time, or it might be caused by certain packages, especially ones coming from PPAs. I also saw lots of advice against going through with the "Partial Upgrade", as it would effectively do an apt-get dist-upgrade.

It seems like if you just press the "Continue" button instead of agreeing to the Partial Upgrade, it just upgrades what packages it's able to. I've done that, and ran apt-get update several times now over the past three weeks, but I'm still getting the Partial Upgrade dialog every time I run Software Updater. I haven't run the Partial Upgrade because it sounds like that may upgrade my entire system to 13.04, which I definitely don't want.

So my question is: How can I pinpoint exactly which packages are causing the problem? Is there a simple way to do this, from the command line or in Synaptic or wherever? If it's a PPA then I'll just remove/reinstall that, but I need to know which one it is.


Partial Upgrade (and apt-get dist-upgrade) don't upgrade your system to the new development version. There are sometimes certain dependency chains which may require a partial upgrade (or dist-upgrade) for packages to install or remove, to ensure the upgrade will work. In these cases, the software updater says you need to do a "Partial Upgrade" (which is perhaps quite bad wording). If you use PPAs for various packages, this may happen more often, as the PPA might diverge a bit in what dependencies are used in some packages.

You should probably go ahead and do it. The updater should notify you of what extra packages would be installed or removed (apt-get dist-upgrade will for sure), and unless there is a specific problem with that, it's safe to go ahead with it.

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  • Ah, thanks for clearing that up! After running apt-get dist-upgrade, it seems like the packages "nodejs-dev" and "npm" were causing the problem (they're from a PPA). Dist-upgrade wanted to upgrade some packages I have locked to a specific version (such as WINE), so I just apt-get removed those two packages, did apt-get update, and now I can update smoothly without a prompt for a partial upgrade. – Simon Apr 7 '13 at 13:22

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