Clarification wanted on apt upgrade/update and synaptic etc.

Florian Diesch diesch at
Tue Oct 14 12:44:58 UTC 2008

Chris G <cl at> wrote:

>     What does 'apt-get update' do?  Is it just updating my local copy
>     of the distribution lists to the latest versions of available
>     software? 


>     If I do 'apt-get upgrade' will it do (have done?) an update of the
>     file lists automatically?  

No. Note that there's also 'apt-get dist-upgrade'. The difference
between 'upgrade' and 'dist-upgrade' is that 'dist-upgrade' will
install new packages if that's necessary while 'upgrade' will only
upgrade installed packages.

You may want to read the APT-Howto:

,----[ apt-howto ]
| Package: apt-howto
| Description: example-based guide to APT
|  This manual tries to be a quick but complete source of
|  information about the APT system and its features
|  It documents the main uses of APT with many examples
|  This package depends on all translations of the manual Its
|  purpose is to provide a smooth upgrade for those who had
|  apt-howto installed before the package was split It may then
|  be removed

As it's written for Debian  some details are different from Ubuntu.

>     Is there some sort of algorithm used to  decide when an 'update' is required?

'Once a day' is a good choice, but that depends on your network

>     When the GUI (from gnome-panel) pops up and tells me that upgrades
>     are available is it taking me to the 'same place' as I will get to
>     by doing 'apt-get upgrade'?  

Yes. Both use libapt to do the work.

>     If I keep upgrading my 8.10 beta will it become the 8.10 release
>     version in due course or do I need to take any special actions to
>     achieve this?

 You'll get the same software, but the configuration and the packages
 selection may be different due to changes in the release version.

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