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Auto update an Ubuntu Server with Aptitude

How to keep software up-to-date automatically on Ubuntu Server using Aptitude

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Table of contents

Usual disclaimer

This article is provided as it and no responsibility will be taken for things going wrong. Tested on Ubuntu 8.10 server.

Using Aptitude

If you’ve ever tried out Ubuntu you’ll probably know what aptitude is and how to manage packages. Updating your system is as simple as sudo aptitude udpate && sudo aptitude upgrade

This updates the package lists and presents any upgrades.

Automating the process

Wouldn’t it be easier if you could automate this and forget about it? That way your server can stay up to date without you ever having to worry about it. Create a file called and put the following into it:


# A script to run Aptitude and install any upgrades automatically. 
# Add this to /etc/cron.daily to run the script every 24 hours. 

# This prevents "TERM is not set, so the dialog frontend is not usable." error

aptitude update
aptitude safe-upgrade -y
aptitude autoclean

To run this script daily move it to /etc/cron.daily (making sure it is executable).

chmod +x
sudo chown root:root
sudo mv autoupdate /etc/cron.daily 

The update will run automatically once a day ensuring you stay up-to-date.

Checking logs

You can keep a check on packages that have been installed and removed via the log file that Aptitude generates.

sudo tail -n 30 /var/log/aptitude

If you want to check that an upgrade has been applied you can search for it like this

sudo cat /var/log/aptitude | grep -A 20 -B 20 php5

Or you can check the currently installed version using (this example is php5)

aptitude show php5

Have an update or suggestion for this article? You can edit it here and send me a pull request.


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