I would like to know how software updates work for my Ubuntu Server 10.10.

I have been recommended to use apt-get install for installing new software and apt-get update for updating software for a Ubuntu Server in production use. Because these packages are tested for Ubuntu in contrast to download source code and compile the software on the box.

But on my Ubuntu Server 10.10, I don't get the latest stable version of PostgreSQL (9) or the latest stable version of Nginx (8) using apt-get install. So how is this working, will these software be updated when I later run apt-get update or do I have to later run apt-get install again, or do I have to wait for the next release of Ubuntu to get them?

And are patches and security updates managed in the same way? Or can they be updated automatically? If there is such a setting, how do I check what my system is using?

3 Answers 3


For your information, sudo apt-get update does not update software. It merely updates the list that the APT package manager uses to keep track of the software installed on the system, and the software available for the system from Ubuntu's repositories.

The correct procedure for updating to the latest version available in the repositories is to run sudo apt-get update to update the available software list, and then sudo apt-get upgrade to actually install the new versions of the packages.

It's worth noting that the versions in the repositories might be slightly outdated: this is typically because this is the only version Canonical is supporting for this release of Ubuntu, or because no-one's uploaded the new version to the repositories yet. You're welcome to install more recent software manually or using Personal Package Archives (PPAs.)

  • @Jonas, it will be slightly outdated in the repos not because the upload of the new version has been neglected, but because Canonical tests the packages before uploading them - the repositories are maintained by Canonical, so not anyone can upload them. The alternatives are PPAs which can provide latest package directly from the developers, no Canonical hands in PPAs unless it's their own project.
    – Oxwivi
    Feb 24, 2011 at 6:05

Ubuntu has a policy where (usually) only small security fixes to programs will be updated in the Ubuntu repositories (that you access through apt-get).

This is to ensure maximum stability in production enivronments - this is particularly important on servers. This means you won't see version updates to software such as PostgreSQL and Nginx until Ubuntu Server 11.04 is released.

You can find out information on the Ubuntu wiki about Stable Releases Updates.


With apt-get you will only received the latest version that the Ubuntu team supports. If it is not your desired version, you will also not receive it with this release as there will be no major version upgrade within a release.

So you either have to wait for a new Ubuntu release and hope they upgrade your package or build and install it yourself manually. With the loss of automatic updates as well.

You could also try to find the newest version in the Debian unstable branch or wait for Ubuntu to implement Backports for Maverick.

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