How to Update Software on Ubuntu

In this guide, we will show you how to update your software on the Ubuntu operating system.

How to Update Ubuntu

Knowing how to update Ubuntu or any operating system is essential.

Updating helps ensure that you are always running the latest software available for your system.

Having an updated system helps ensure that you have the latest security patches, bug fixes, and performance improvements.

Ubuntu, like most operating systems based on Debian, makes use of the apt package manager.

The apt package manager is relatively easy to use and is an excellent thing to learn how to use.

Within the next few sections, you will learn how to update Ubuntu using the command line or desktop interface.

Please note that to update packages on Ubuntu, you will be required to use the root user or have superuser privileges.

Table of Contents

Using the Command Line to Update Ubuntu

In this section, we will show you how to use the command line to update Ubuntu.

Updating Ubuntu through this method is a straightforward process as there are only two commands you need to know.

If you are on the desktop version of Ubuntu, you can open the terminal by pressing CTRL + ALT + T.

You can also perform this update by using an SSH connection to your Ubuntu system.

Updating the Package List

Before you can upgrade packages on your Ubuntu system, you need to update the package list.

The apt package manager keeps a cache of all available packages. This cache is created from the lists it retrieves from the package repositories.

We can update the package list by using the following command on your device.

sudo apt update

After you have run an update on your Ubuntu systems package list, it will now be aware of what packages have newer versions available.

It is important to run this command before you install new packages. If not updated, the package list cache may contain links to mirrors that may no longer be available.

Upgrading the Packages

At this point, we can now perform an upgrade. This upgrade will use the package list to see what packages have a newer version available from the repository.

Doing this will update any package on our Ubuntu system that does not have dependencies that have changed.

To perform a normal update of your packages, use the command below.

sudo apt upgrade

When prompted if you would like to continue with the update operation, type in y, and then press the ENTER key.

Performing a Full Upgrade

It is possible to update all packages on your Ubuntu system regardless of whether they need new dependencies.

To do this, we can still use the apt package manager. We just need to use a slightly different command.

sudo apt full-upgrade

You will be prompted if you would like to update your Ubuntu systems packages. To confirm the update, type in y, and then press the ENTER key.

Using full-upgrade will update all packages. If the package requires a new dependency, it will be automatically be downloaded.

Update Ubuntu using the GUI

This section will show you how to use Ubuntu’s desktop interface to perform an update of your system.

While the following screenshots are taken on Ubuntu 20.04, the next steps should work the same on most Ubuntu versions.

You can verify what version of Ubuntu you are using relatively easily.

1. Our first step is to open the activities screen.

The easiest way to open this screen is to clickActivities” in the top left corner of the screen or click┬áthe icon located in the bottom left corner.

Opening the Activities Screen

2. Using the search bar on this screen, type in “Software Updater” (1.).

This should end up showing the following result on your activities screen. Click the “Software Updater” application when it appears (2.).

Search for Ubuntu Software Updater

3. The software updater will now begin to perform an initial check for updates.

During this process, it is effectively updating the cached package lists on your Ubuntu device. This is equivalent to using the “sudo apt update” command.

Initial Checking for Updates

4. After the updater finishes grabbing the latest package lists, you will be notified if there are available updates.

You can update these packages on your Ubuntu operating system by clicking the “Install Now” button on the screen.

Update Ubuntu Packages Now

5. To update packages on Ubuntu, you are required to be an administrator.

To authenticate yourself as an admin, start by typing in your user’s password (1.).

Once you have a password typed in, click the “Authenticate” button (2.).

Authenticate User as an Administrator

6. Your Ubuntu device will now install any available update that the updated package list shows.

Please note that this process can take some time as it needs to download then install the packages.

Install Package Updates to Ubuntu

7. Once the packages have been installed on your Ubuntu device, you may need to restart it.

As some packages were in use while the update process has begun, it won’t be until the device is restarted that they are loaded in.

You can restart the Ubuntu device by clicking the “Restart Now” button on the screen.

Restart to finish update process


Throughout this guide, you will have learned how you can update your Ubuntu operating system.

When using either the terminal or the GUI, you can update your system with relative ease.

If you have had any issues with updating your Ubuntu system, please leave a comment below.

You can check out our other Ubuntu guides to learn what else you can do with the operating system.

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