Update Manager is constantly offering me updates (e.g. security fixes, updates from PPAs).

How can I tell my Ubuntu installation to automatically download and install updates whenever they become available?


5 Answers 5


Although it is not wrong or dangerous (see comments to this answer), using apt-get upgrade -y is not the best way to achieve this.

unattended-upgrades is one of the best practices of having automatic updates, especially for headless machines or servers!

You can set up unattended-upgrades pretty easily by typing this in a terminal:

sudo apt-get install unattended-upgrades
sudo dpkg-reconfigure unattended-upgrades

From the description:

 This package can download and install security upgrades automatically
 and unattended, taking care to only install packages from the
 configured APT source, and checking for dpkg prompts about
 configuration file changes.
  • 2
    But an important package for your server, web application, etc might not be an "essential" package and could potentially get removed.
    – Weboide
    Commented Jul 31, 2010 at 0:50
  • 1
    unattended-upgrades is preferable but apt-get -y upgrade is not wrong or dangerous at all. sudo apt-get upgrade will never (with or with out y, with or without explicit user approval) install any new package or uninstall any installed package. (From man apt-get: "under no circumstances are currently installed packages removed, or packages not already installed retrieved and installed.") Remember, the -y flag can be used with other, potentially more dangerous commands than upgrade, such as dist-upgrade. Commented Jun 19, 2012 at 4:12
  • 17
    This is lacking the info that you have to set APT::Periodic::Download-Upgradeable-Packages "0"; to 1 and should also set APT::Periodic::AutocleanInterval "0"; to something in days in /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/10periodic or not? Also you would not be do this instead of the GUI way if you would only security updates so you also have to uncomment // "${distro_id}:${distro_codename}-updates"; in /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/50unattended-upgrades to really have automatic upgrades for all code packages. This can then be extended to update even more. Commented May 2, 2014 at 3:07
  • 4
    What happens with updates that require a server reboot?
    – Diskdrive
    Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 23:32
  • 5
    official docs talk about enabling notifications as well (via email), which i think is good for those who wish to know. help.ubuntu.com/lts/serverguide/automatic-updates.html
    – user383919
    Commented Sep 16, 2016 at 18:44

In the Update Manager click the Settings button. This dialog will show up:

screenshot of Download and install automatically security updates

Select the "Download and install automatically". This will automatically install security updates. If you want to set this up for them remotely via, you can do this:

sudo apt-get install unattended-upgrades

If the package is installed already you can do:

sudo dpkg-reconfigure unattended-upgrades

to change it's behavior. Follow the prompts to enable the feature once you run the command. There's currently no graphical method to just set the entire system to update unattended for everything (you want to play it safe when it comes to automatic upgrades), but setting security updates automatically is a good idea.

Check out the pages for more information if you want to automate getting -updates and -backports:

  • You can start update manager from the command line with update-manager
    – Att Righ
    Commented Oct 17, 2022 at 10:36

You can do this easily for security updates.

From System Settings open Update Manager. Click the 'Settings...' button, then on the 'Updates' tab, select the radio button 'Install security updates without confirmation.'

To automatically install all updates, see the answer below.

  • 34
    -1 Disappointing this has selected since this is not answering the question correctly and is showing a thing everybody who know Ubuntu a little bit and pays attention in dialogs knows this already. The most upvoted answer is the right one. Commented May 2, 2014 at 2:17

Go to terminal, and enter:

sudo dpkg-reconfigure unattended-upgrades

Say "yes" to the prompt. You'll still be notified about "normal" updates, such as those that contain bugfixes, but security updates will be installed automatically.

  • Can I do it without a prompt? (So turn on unattended upgardes unattended :) )
    – pihentagy
    Commented Aug 18, 2020 at 10:48
  • 1
    This doesn't upgrade my LTS automatically, does it?
    – Harsha
    Commented Nov 3, 2020 at 18:57
  • @Harsha No. you need to run dist-upgrade for that as new releases require a new kernel, and upgrade will never install a new kernel.
    – majorgear
    Commented Feb 6, 2022 at 17:57

I use apticron to get informed by mail if an update needs to be done.

In your case, I would use cron-apt or unattended-upgrades to do the job of automagically updating your machines.


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