Updating Ubuntu Linux

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Ubuntu Linux is a constantly evolving operating system. No sooner has the latest release of Ubuntu shipped than updates begin to be released to improve the stability, performance and security of the system. It is vital to the health of any Ubuntu Linux installation that any new updates are applied as they are released by the Ubuntu Linux Development team.

Fortunately, Ubuntu Linux makes updating your operating system easy. In fact, it will even notify you when updates are available.

In this chapter we will cover the steps necessary to ensure that your Ubuntu Linux system is up to date.

Notification of Ubuntu Linux Updates

Ubuntu Linux includes an update monitoring system which displays a notification message when new updates are available. Unless you downloaded the Ubuntu installation CD image within hours of the release of the latest Ubuntu version it is likely that you will see this message the first time you boot your new Ubuntu Linux installation. The notice appears in the top right hand corner of the desktop as follows:

The Ubuntu Linux Update Notification Message

Clicking on the red down arrow with the white exclamation mark will launch the Ubuntu Update Manager. Before the Update Manager appears on your desktop, you may be prompted to enter your password. This is to ensure that updates are only performed by authorized users of the system.

The Ubuntu Linux Update Manager

Once invoked, Ubuntu Update Manager application will appear as illustrated in the following figure:

The Ubuntu update manager

The Update Manager lists the total number of updates that are available for your system together with a list itemizing each update. For more information on a specific update, select that update in the list and click on the triangle next to the "Description of update" text. Each update has a check box next to it. To decline an update, simply uncheck the box for that update. When you have reviewed the updates and unselected any you do not wish to be applied to the system press the Install Updates button to begin the update process.

The update process consists of two phases. In the first phase, the Update Manager downloads each update package in the list. Enter your password if prompted to do so after which the following dialog will appear displaying the progress of the updates as they are downloaded. The dialog shows the display after the option to Show progress of single files has been selected:

Ubuntu Linux Update Progress

In addition to providing details of the progress of the update process, the dialog also shows the current download speed and provides an estimate of the remaining time to completion.

Once the update packages have been successfully download the Update Manager begins the process of applying the updates to the operating system begins. While this phase of the update is in progress the following dialog is displayed (in this case the option to display details has been selected):

Ubuntu Linux Update Installation Progress

Once the update process is finished, a window will appear announcing completion. Click the Close button to dismiss this window. You will notice that the update button in the top right hand corner of the desktop has now changed from red arrow to two circular blue arrows. This indicates that the operating system is currently up to date. If, at any time, this changes back to the red download button, it means that updates are once again available. Simply click on the button to once again begin the update process.

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