Packages held back

Discussion in 'all things UNIX' started by vasa1, Dec 10, 2011.

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  1. vasa1

    vasa1 Registered Member

    May 1, 2010
    I'm on 11.10. I check for updates a few times a day using sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade.
    Today, I noticed this:
    The following packages have been [b]kept back[/b]:
      linux-generic-pae linux-headers-generic-pae linux-image-generic-pae
    The following packages will be upgraded:
    1 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 3 not upgraded.
    Need to get 820 kB of archives.
    After this operation, 8,192 B of additional disk space will be used.
    Do you want to continue [Y/n]? y
    Get:1 oneiric-updates/main linux-libc-dev i386 3.0.0-14.23 [820 kB]
    Fetched 820 kB in 17s (48.1 kB/s)                                                                                                  
    (Reading database ... 188037 files and directories currently installed.)
    Preparing to replace linux-libc-dev 3.0.0-13.22 (using .../linux-libc-dev_3.0.0-14.23_i386.deb) ...
    Unpacking replacement linux-libc-dev ...
    Setting up linux-libc-dev (3.0.0-14.23) ...
    I logged onto to see what is to be done when stuff is kept back. Running sudo apt-get dist-upgrade as suggested here worked for the OP.
    Another suggestion was to wait for a couple of days in case the reason was at Ubuntu's end.
    I have not used sudo apt-get dist-upgrade ever before and was inclined to wait a few days.

    I don't know why, but I opened Software Manager, something I don't usually do. And there were the packages (~48 MB) waiting to be installed. I was prompted to restart to complete the process which I did and now all is well.
  2. tlu

    tlu Guest


    I always execute ... dist-upgrade.

    The difference is: Contrary to a normal upgrade also new packages will be installed and old packages, which have become useless because of new dependencies, will be replaced. I think it's the standard behavior for most software managers like Synaptic or Muon.
  3. vasa1

    vasa1 Registered Member

    May 1, 2010
    Do you routinely do sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade instead of sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade? Alternatively, can I just check the Update Manager whenever I feel bored instead of sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade?

    Are you recommending that checking for updates via a software manager is the more appropriate way to go, especially for a newbie?

    Don't hesitate to give a lengthy explanation :D or at least to point me to a link that makes the distinctions clear!
  4. tlu

    tlu Guest

    Yes, I do.

    As mentioned, all software managers perform a dist-upgrade, IMHO. It doesn't matter what you prefer. I'm using the following alias contained in my .bash_aliases file:

    alias U="sudo apt-get update ; sudo apt-get dist-upgrade"

    Makes life a lot easier ;)

    A good site is
    Specifically for your question read
  5. vasa1

    vasa1 Registered Member

    May 1, 2010
    From a reading of both links, I'm tempted to conclude that the advantage of dist-upgrade is that it does a better job of dealing with dependencies although this quote from the first link is puzzling: "it will attempt to upgrade the most important packages at the expense of less important ones if necessary."
  6. Ocky

    Ocky Registered Member

    May 6, 2006
    George, S.Africa
    I have so far always done it the default way, don't consider myself smart enough for the smart upgrade. :D
    OK this is very old so probably overhauled:-
    vasa1, I like your posts, they get beginners like me thinking and (double) checking stuff I didn't know or bother with before. :)
  7. tlu

    tlu Guest

    Well, I also find this statement a bit funny so I won't comment it.

    Let me try to explain the difference in other words/with some examples instead:

    apt-get upgrade never installs new packages, only upgrades already installed packages.

    1. The update of the skin of your favourite media player needs a quite new font. Since apt-get upgrade never installs new packages, the new font won't be installed and, consequently, the skin won't be updated because of missing dependencies.

    2. Referring to your first post: A kernel update has the version number in the package name. These packages are therefore new packages never installed before. An apt-get upgrade will consequently hold them back.

    apt-get dist-upgrade is different: It will update all packages and will - if necessary - install new packages if there are new package dependencies.

    Its name is a bit misleading as an dist-upgrade does not perform an upgrade to a new Ubuntu release as many people seem to think. In order to do that there is the command do-release-upgrade.
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