Differences between Update Manager, Synaptic, and `apt-get upgrade`

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xenopeek
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Differences between Update Manager, Synaptic, and `apt-get upgrade`

Post by xenopeek » Fri Sep 09, 2016 1:14 am

On other Debian or Ubuntu based Linux distributions you may commonly see the recommendation to install upgrades with Synaptic or the command sudo apt-get upgrade. Linux Mint recommends you use its Update Manager for installing upgrades. Besides giving you much more information it offers more fine-grained control over which upgrades to install. I'll highlight the major differences.

Update Manager
  • It shows the type of each upgrade. Security upgrades are clearly marked for priority with a red exclamation icon.
  • It shows the level of each upgrade. Packages from the Linux Mint repositories are level 1. Packages from other repositories are level 3 (e.g., Ubuntu or Debian package base, and any additional repositories or PPAs you added through Software Sources). Selected packages are set at level 2, 4 or 5 through its rules (you can find the rules on your system in /usr/lib/linuxmint/mintUpdate/rules or browse the latest version online at https://github.com/linuxmint/mintupdate ... date/rules).
  • It groups packages from the same source code into one upgrade. Debian (and thus Ubuntu and Linux Mint) has the policy to split source code into multiple component packages (like additional documentation and optional plugins would be in separate packages) so users only need to install those parts that they themselves need. You should always keep such related packages on the same version thus Update Manager groups them as one upgrade.
  • The changelog for each upgrade can quickly be accessed to let the user decide whether they need the upgrade urgently or not. (Changelogs might not be available or accessible on repositories you add, like PPAs.)
  • It offers several ways for users to configure which upgrades should be shown to them and which of those should be marked for installation by default. Users can select an update policy for this. "Don't break my computer!" shows level 1-3 and marks them for installation. "Optimize stability and security" does the same but also shows all level 4-5 security and kernel upgrades. "Always update everything" shows all upgrades and marks them for installation. Users can further configure this in detail in preferences.
  • Before installing upgrades users can mark/unmark upgrades to include/exclude selected upgrades for installation.
Synaptic
  • Upgrading through Synaptic has been disabled on Linux Mint. To the best of my recollection this was done because there is a rare but severe bug in Synaptic that can effectively cause uninstallation of the user's operating system. The list of available package upgrades and changelogs can be viewed in it though, but it can't access the changelogs from all standard Linux Mint repositories.
apt-get upgrade
  • sudo apt-get upgrade (or better on Linux Mint, the shorthand apt upgrade) does none of the above and will instead just show all package upgrades and if the user continues will install them all. (A list of available upgrades can also be displayed instead with the command apt list --upgradeable.)
  • To review changelogs the user would have to abort that command and do apt changelog [i]packagename[/i] for each package upgrade. Like Synaptic it can't show you changelogs from all repositories.
  • To install upgrades selectively the user would have to use the command apt install [i]packagename[/i] for each package upgrade.
  • As always when installing from the terminal, make sure to do apt update before any of these commands!
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Re: Differences between Update Manager, Synaptic, and `apt-get upgrade`

Post by Pjotr » Fri Sep 09, 2016 4:38 am

Nice. :)
But I think it would be a good idea to add a warning.

Namely to state clearly that sudo apt-get upgrade completely bypasses the protective level system that Update Manager uses, and that the use of this command is therefore discouraged. On certain hardware combinations, severe system damage might be the result.

This can of course also be deduced from your article ("does none of the above"), but a clear warning is better....
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Re: Differences between Update Manager, Synaptic, and `apt-get upgrade`

Post by killer de bug » Fri Feb 10, 2017 10:29 am

apt upgrade contrary to apt dist-upgrade can't install new libraries. This is dangerous and can leave your system half upgraded. Some Cinnamon users were facing a black screen after using apt upgrade. Cinnamon latest version needs libraries which were not installed by the upgrade process. apt upgrade should be avoided.
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Re: Differences between Update Manager, Synaptic, and `apt-get upgrade`

Post by karlchen » Fri Feb 10, 2017 2:22 pm

Is this problem newly introduced by the Linux Mint version of apt in Linux Mint 18.x?
I cannot remember ever having come across situations where apt-get upgrade refused or ignored to install new versions of shared libraries or to add new library files, in case they had to be added due to new dependencies of updated software packages.

By default, I avoid apt-get dist-upgrade like the plague, 'cause quite a while back I learnt that apt-get dist-upgrade should not be used on Ubuntu. And Mint 13 / Mint 17.x are based on Ubuntu.
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Re: Differences between Update Manager, Synaptic, and `apt-get upgrade`

Post by Pjotr » Fri Feb 10, 2017 5:23 pm

I've never tried apt instead of apt-get, because I simply see no need to use anything else but the good old reliable apt-get. But I'm curious to the answer to karlchen's question as well.
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Re: Differences between Update Manager, Synaptic, and `apt-get upgrade`

Post by killer de bug » Fri Feb 10, 2017 5:45 pm

From the man page: https://linux.die.net/man/8/apt-get
upgrade
Used to install the newest versions of all packages currently installed on the system from the sources enumerated in /etc/apt/sources.list(5). Packages currently installed with new versions available are retrieved and upgraded; under no circumstances are currently installed packages removed, nor are packages that are not already installed retrieved and installed. New versions of currently installed packages that cannot be upgraded without changing the install status of another package will be left at their current version. An update must be performed first so that apt-get knows that new versions of packages are available.
dist-upgrade
In addition to performing the function of upgrade, this option also intelligently handles changing dependencies with new versions of packages; apt-get has a "smart" conflict resolution system, and it will attempt to upgrade the most important packages at the expense of less important ones, if necessary.
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