Question is about Ubuntu release process. Are migrations from n to n+1 releases expected?

Assuming we have server with installed Ubuntu 14.04 LTS. Will it be smoothly upgradable to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS via apt-get upgrade ?


  • scope is software
  • therefore we assume that given hardware is supported on both releases (upgrading from and to)
  • that's why, always before upgrade you are asked to make backup to be able to revert in case of failure
  • 7
    Short answer: yes you can upgrade from LTS to LTS
    – Thomas Ward
    Jan 6, 2016 at 20:55
  • 3
    Why would you assume you can't?
    – Braiam
    Jan 6, 2016 at 23:10
  • 4
    I am not experienced with Ubuntu LTS Server, I used to use Arch, Slackware, SuSE and other distros... In some I experienced situations that migration from release n.x to (n+1).y required reinstallation from scratch, or was very painful (leading to reinstallaction from scratch after sweat&tears&blood). Therefore, I ask before hand, being not sure if smooth transitions are available only for normal releases, or also for LTS releases. Jan 6, 2016 at 23:42
  • 2
    Note that if you delay and wait too long after the LTS release is no longer supported (which you shouldn't, because security updates), the upgrade process isn't quite so smooth. Jan 7, 2016 at 8:25
  • 5
    @GrzegorzWierzowiecki, a clarification: Arch is a rolling release, so there are no releases once you have it installed. A single pacman command just gets you the latest. Arch has no named releases; all they do is cut a series of installers regularly.
    – user459652
    Jan 7, 2016 at 15:26

10 Answers 10


You can upgrade smoothly through LTS releases whether it's Server or Desktop. It doesn't matter what you use, you just need to use these commands:

For Desktop Version:

sudo do-release-upgrade

For Server Version:

sudo apt-get install update-manager-core
sudo do-release-upgrade

NOTE: Please always make sure you test the target LTS you're being prompted to upgrade to in a LiveCD on the machine you're using to make sure everything works properly before going in for the real upgrade itself.

  • 1
    And anyway, wouldn't it be sudo apt-get dist-upgrade? Or is that command for something else? Jan 6, 2016 at 23:35
  • 7
    @SuperSluether dist-upgrade updates the whole system, apps, kernel, the lot to the latest available versions but not the distribution, do-release-upgrade will upgrade to the next release, you should do a dist-upgrade if you like new kernels and stuff, as opposed to the update manger, which just does, kernel updates for that version, apps and, security.
    – Mark Kirby
    Jan 7, 2016 at 0:18
  • 2
    Merge Flimm's answer with yours and add your sources, and I'll upvote this
    – dcorking
    Jan 7, 2016 at 13:22
  • 1
    Yes, you can upgrade like the answers below say but you'll have to use the command on this answer to actually upgrade Ubuntu Versions. Jan 7, 2016 at 16:55
  • 1
    OK @DominicHayes I changed my vote, don't forget to comment when you edit, no one is notified of it.
    – Mark Kirby
    Jan 7, 2016 at 22:07

Yes, you can upgrade from one Ubuntu LTS version to the next one, skipping the non-LTS releases in-between. It's intended to work that way and it gets tested.

  • 6
    The last time I upgraded from one LTS to the next I had to wait for the first point release. Has this restriction been lifted? Jan 7, 2016 at 13:34
  • 8
    @GeraldSchneider The point (no pun intended) of LTS releases is stability, so they don't enable the upgrade notifications until a point upgrade has been released. You can upgrade before however using do-release-upgrade (or one of its flags, I've forgotten the exact process). For more information see: askubuntu.com/questions/125392/…
    – Seth
    Jan 13, 2016 at 0:46
  • 1
    Now that 16.04.1 is out, I still cant do a do-release-upgrade on my ubuntu server 14.04 LTS. My question is here - askubuntu.com/questions/801488/…
    – Lord Loh.
    Jul 21, 2016 at 22:47
  • 2
    It is intended to work that way, yet this very website hosts dozens of questions about failed 14.04->16.04 upgrade. A "kernel panic" is not what I call a "smooth upgrade"… Dec 24, 2016 at 23:24
  • 3
    Typically kernel panics occur if you aren't using the bog standard stock Ubuntu kernel and you use ANY drivers that "taint the kernel" eg most video card drivers, some network drivers, and other third party applications. There are definitely cases where this isn't super smooth, but if you disable 3rd party repos/PPAs and disable/uninstall proprietary video card drivers using the driver utility before upgrading you typically don't have many issues.
    – dragon788
    Oct 9, 2017 at 20:37

I trusted other answers and proceeded to the upgrade from an up-to-date 14.04 to 16.04 using do-release-upgrade. Now I am facing a kernel panic.

Here are other relevant questions (not mine), most unanswered :

Therefore the actual answer to the question "can I smoothly upgrade from one LTS to next LTS release", in particular when applied to 14.04->16.04 upgrade as suggested in the OP, is clearly not "yes" — and most if not all answers are wrong in this regard.

At best, you might smoothly upgrade.

  • Have you tried selecting different kernel during boot? My experience is that usually such thing happen when one did not update/upgrade long time and later during upgrades/updates /boot partition gets full. However I've encountered described problem during normal upgrades. (Therefore, I consider it problem with just "standard upgrade" part rather than something specific for full system upgrade). Then such kind of advices help. I have no idea if that's your case, but I hope it helps. Dec 28, 2016 at 1:24
  • @GrzegorzWierzowiecki Thanks for the suggestion, but in my case there was no hope to get a clean setup back : the init system had disappeared and apt's dependency tree was completely broken. (And I made sure I had enough free space beforehand.) Dec 29, 2016 at 17:46
  • Said to hear. One day I managed similar situation on other Distro to recover from Live CD/Dvd, and a lot of manual clean ups, I am not sure if I would repeat it again, more likely took backup ofnwhat's left amd start from scratch. Good luck! Dec 29, 2016 at 19:35
  • @GrzegorzWierzowiecki Having /home on a separate partition makes it way less sad that it seems. ;-) Dec 29, 2016 at 21:45
  • and /etc and /usr ... ;) all depends where does your customisations live/reach Dec 30, 2016 at 0:43

You can upgrade from one LTS version to another. If its smooth or not depends.

If you're referring only to the OS, the process is tested and if your hardware is compatible everything will be fine.

Don't forget though that you may have your own software/scripts/etc installed or other configurations that may have unmet dependencies in the new version. (eg.: you have some script with deprecated functions that are dropped in a newer version)


Upgrades from 14.04 to 16.04 are not automatically when 16.04 comes out in April but in July the first point release 16.04.1 will become available and all 14.04 users will be offered the upgrade then.

However, if you want to upgrade immediately, you do NOT need to upgrade to an intermediate release first. Just run the following in a terminal (and type your password):

sudo update-manager -d

You will then be offered the 14.04 -> 16.04 upgrade without waiting for 16.04.1.

The reason Ubuntu doesn't automatically offer 16.04 to 14.04 users is simple: those users are using a very stable LTS release, and might hit undiscovered bugs in 16.04 if they upgraded immediately at release. Any important bugs found in 16.04 should be fixed by the 16.04.1 point release, so LTS users have less chance of running into bugs in the new release.

  • 1
    Tried update-manager -d from 14.04 to 16.04. Broke the UI. Jun 23, 2016 at 21:47
  • sudo: update-manager: command not found
    – Matt
    Apr 28, 2017 at 21:29

Just a quick note on upgrading from an old non-LTS release: I was stuck on 13.04 (Raring Ringtail, non-LTS), and wanted to upgrade. First get up to 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr), then upgrade to 16.04 (Xenial Xerus).

To upgrade from 13.04 (in September 2016!), you need some hacking, and this guy had a way: http://tuxtrix.com/2014/03/upgrade-from-ubuntu-1304-to-ubuntu-1404.html

It worked for me!

(Tip: Run the upgrade in Console (ctrl+alt+F1), not in the desktop GUI. While upgrading, X or whatever hung on me, and I had to hammer a bit to get it through..)

  • This is how I do release upgrades, it has worked every time. Now in 18.04 I will test with an LTS upgrade. I'm using 16.04
    – userDepth
    Sep 15, 2017 at 16:29

Yes you can. a step by step guide. https://www.digitalocean.com/community/tutorials/how-to-upgrade-to-ubuntu-16-04-lts


Comments and links about LTS systems

It can be difficult and confusing to select the version of Ubuntu both for the first installation and for upgrading to a new released version. This answer will focus on how to find the version with the longest remaining support time (until 'end of life'), which is often the first point release of an LTS release (LTS stands for Long Time Support).

Right now, when this is written, it is Ubuntu 16.04.1 LTS, and its iso files are not found via the 'usual' links for the current versions.

The support intervals are described with details and diagrams in this link,


The kernel series of the second, third and fourth point releases are different from the kernel series of the first point release, and are not supported for a long time. The hardware enablement stack must/will be upgraded according to these links,



in order to keep everything up to date (including security updates of the kernel). This is risky and I would discourage you to do that. Many failures are reported. Some of these problems can be found, if you type HWE into the 'Search Q&A' window near the top right corner of the web browser's window with AskUbuntu (and press Enter).

The kernel series of the fifth point release is that of the next LTS relesase and has long support.

Strategy for a stable and reliable system

I would recommend the following strategy, if you want to use a stable and reliable system.

  • A good backup routine for all files, that you want to keep, is the fundament of a stable and reliable system. This includes your personal files and the whole or parts of the operating system and installed application programs and tweaks.

  • Install and stay with LTS releases that are released in April during even years, 2014, 2016, 2018, ...

  • Install the version which has the longest time until end of life right now. Test it and if it works well, stay with it. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"

    Stay with update & upgrade within the kernel series

    sudo apt update
    sudo apt full-upgrade
  • When the next first point release is released, wait for a month, and sometime late in August, the worst bugs are fixed, and you can install the new release and do the updates & upgrades to a well debugged and polished system. This can mean changing

    • from 14.04.1 LTS to 16.04.1 LTS, or
    • from 14.04.1 LTS to 18.04.1 LTS (only standard Ubuntu has 5 years LTS), or
    • from 14.04.5 LTS to 16.04.1 LTS, or
    • from 14.04.5 LTS to 18.04.1 LTS (only standard Ubuntu has 5 years LTS), or
    • from 16.04.1 LTS to 18.04.1 LTS, or
    • from 16.04.1 LTS to 20.04.1 LTS (only standard Ubuntu has 5 years LTS), or
    • from 16.04.5 LTS to 18.04.1 LTS, or
    • from 16.04.5 LTS to 20.04.1 LTS ...

It is often better to install a fresh system and after that copy your personal files from the old system to the new system. It is possible to upgrade from the old LTS release to the next LTS release via

sudo do-release-upgrade

but it is risky, and you had better get a fresh backup before trying it.

Get the iso files

Start looking for the iso files of the version with the longest remaining support via these links,

If the iso files of the version with the longest remaining support are not found via those links, you can find them via the following general link,

and right now, when this is written, you want to find Ubuntu 16.04.1 LTS via the following link,


If you want to upgrade from 12.04 LTS to 16.04 LTS, you can't do that. You can't skip an LTS release like that. You need to update 12.04->14.04 and then 14.04->16.04.

It will probably be quicker to just do a reinstall (and setting up your server so it'll be easier next time ;) ).


Yes, you can smoothly and easily upgrade from one LTS to next LTS release:

Step Press Alt + F2 and type update-manager and then follow the onscreen instructions.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .