Node Source's Docker image of Ubuntu runs apt-get upgrade, not apt-get dist-upgrade, to install latest version of all packages.

apt-get dist-upgrade is considered a command to upgrade kernel related packages. In Docker container, kernel packages are not installed because host's kernel is used, and apt-get upgrade looks enough.

However, man page of apt-get says:

dist-upgrade in addition to performing the function of upgrade,
also intelligently handles changing dependencies with new versions
of packages

According to this, other packages may require to run apt-get dist-upgrade to install latest patch.

Are there such packages which requires apt-get dist-upgrade in the current or past releases of Ubuntu? If such packages exists, we need to run dist-upgrade even in Docker container.

2 Answers 2


In general, you are going to want to use upgrade rather then dist-upgrade.

In general, unless you have a problem or feel you know more then the docker developers, best go with the defaults.

In the event upgrade has problems, dist-upgrade is a potential solution.

upgrade will update new packages when new versions are available, but will sometimes not remove packages or not install additional packages. dist-upgrade will upgrade and if necessary add or remove packages.

You should always review what apt-get is telling you when you upgrade and review the packages list with dist-upgrade.

For additional information see

What is "dist-upgrade" and why does it upgrade more than "upgrade"?


Why use apt-get upgrade instead of apt-get dist-upgrade?


I would say you should not even use upgrade: rather rebuild the image with --no-cache and execute the usual update and install pair, which will fetch the latest versions of a package.

  • Why this approach is better?
    – enjoy
    Jan 27, 2021 at 9:55
  • install will get the latest version of packages that you need; as for the already installed packages, they will come with the latest tag of the base image you start from, as long as it's maintained. Jan 30, 2021 at 11:42

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