One of the great things about using open source software is the frequency with which bugs are fixed, security holes are patched, and new features are added. Ubuntu includes a very convenient update manager, which checks the software repositories for updates, and alerts you to install any new versions found. However, its default behavior of checking for updates every day annoys some people. Sometimes updates will be released multiple days in a row, and constantly upgrading your system. can start to be a burden. This guide will explain howto control how often the update manager runs, or howto set the update manager in Ubuntu to automatically install updates.
The update manager is controlled through the Software Sources control panel. Under your “System” menu, select “Administration”, and select “Software Sources.” You will be prompted for your root password; once the window opens, select the “Updates” tab:
The section we’re concerned with is the bottom half, “Automatic Updates.” You should, however, probably make sure that all the update sources are checked.
First, you can disable automatic updates entirely by unclicking “Check for updates.” I don’t recommend this, as updates are important to keep your stable and secure; so unless you’re planning on updating your system manually, leave automatic updates turned on. You can select how often you’d like the update manager to check for updates via the drop-down menu; you can select “Daily,” “Every two days,” “Weekly,” or “Every two weeks.” This setting is really just a personal preference.
The options below the update frequency menu are pretty self explanatory. You can have the manager install updates automatically, without asking you; if you set it to do this, it will still prompt you before your computer reboots in the event that the machine has to restart for an update to take affect (unlike Windows, which requires restarts for lots of updates, Linux typically only requires a restart if the kernel is updated).
The other options are to download updates in the background, which will prompt you to install them at a later date, or to just tell you when there are updates available, in which case the update manager will download packages when you manually update your system.
Updates are an important part of keeping your system stable and secure. But sometimes they can be annoying, when updates are released almost every single day. Thankfully, the update manager allows you to configure often you want Ubuntu to update itself, or it allows you to make the process entirely transparent (by automatically installing updates).