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Unattended upgrades

This script upgrades packages automatically and unattended.

If you would prefer to disable it from the command line, run "sudo dpkg-reconfigure -plow unattended-upgrades".

It will not install packages that require dependencies that can't be fetched from allowed origins, and it will check for conffile prompts before the install and holds back any package that requires them.


By default unattended-upgrades runs an update every day.

The main way to specify which packages will be auto-upgraded is by means of their "origin" and "archive". These are taken respectively from the Origin and Suite fields of the repository's Release file, or can be found in the output of:

$ apt-cache policy

in the "o" and "a" fields for the given repository.

The default setup auto-updates packages in the main and security archives, which means that only stable and security updates are applied.

This can be changed either with the "Unattended-Upgrade::Allowed-Origins" or the "Unattended-Upgrade::Origins-Pattern" apt configuration lists, which are listed in /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/50unattended-upgrades. Also in this file are a range of other options that can be configured.

To override the configuration it is recommended to create an other APT configuration file fragment which overrides the shipped default value because updates to to shipped configuration file may conflict with the local changes blocking updating unattended-upgrades itself. The new file should sort later than 50unattended-upgrades to be parsed later than the one shipping the default values, it can be e.g. 52unattended-upgrades-local.

Allowed-Origins is a simple list of patterns of the form "origin:archive".

Origins-Pattern allows you to give a list of (glob-style) patterns to match against. For example:

 Unattended-Upgrade::Origins-Pattern {
        "origin=Google\, Inc.,suite=contrib";

will upgrade a package if either the origin is "Google, Inc." and suite is "contrib" or if it comes from and is in component "main". The apt-cache policy short identifiers (e.g. "o" for "origin") are also supported.

If you already configure what to install via apt pinning, you can simply use "origin=*", e.g.:

 Unattended-Upgrade::Origins-Pattern {

All operations are logged in /var/log/unattended-upgrades/. This includes the dpkg output as well. The file /etc/logrotate.d/unattended-upgrades controls how long logfiles are kept, and how often they are rotated. See the logrotate manpage for details.

If you want mail support you need to have a mail-transport-agent (e.g postfix) or mailx installed.


If something goes wrong, or if you want to report a bug about the way the script works, it's a good idea to run:

$ sudo unattended-upgrade --debug --dry-run

and look at the resulting logfile in: /var/log/unattended-upgrades/unattended-upgrades.log It will also contain additional debug information.

Manual Setup

To activate this script manually you need to ensure that the apt configuration contains the following lines (this can be done via the graphical "Software Source" program or via dpkg-reconfigure as well):

APT::Periodic::Update-Package-Lists "1";
APT::Periodic::Unattended-Upgrade "1";

This means that it will check for updates every day, and install them (if that is possible). If you have update-notifier installed, it will setup /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/10periodic. Just edit this file then to fit your needs. If you do not have this file, just create it or create/edit /etc/apt/apt.conf - you can check your configuration by running "apt-config dump".

Supported Options Reference

  • Unattended-Upgrade::Allowed-Origins - list of (origin:archive) pairs

Only packages from this origin:archive pair will be installed. You can see all available origin:archive pairs by running apt-cache policy and checking the "o=" and "a=" fields. Variable substitution is supported for ${distro_id} that contains the output of lsb_release -i and ${distro_codename} that contains the output of lsb_release -c.


Unattended-Upgrade::Allowed-Origins {
  • Unattended-Upgrade::Package-Blacklist - list of regular expressions

No packages that match the regular expressions in this list will be marked for upgrade. If a package A has a blacklisted package B as a dependency then both packages A and B will not be upgraded. Note that it's a list of regular expressions, so you may need to escape special characters like "+" as "\+".


Unattended-Upgrade::Package-Blacklist {
  • Unattended-Upgrade::Package-Whitelist - list of regular expressions

Only packages that match the regular expressions in this list will be marked for upgrade. By default dependencies of whitelisted packages are allowed. This can be changed to only ever allow whitelisted packages with the Unattended-Upgrade::Package-Whitelist-Strict boolean option. Unattended-Upgrade::Package-Blacklist still applies, thus blacklisted packages covered by the whitelist will still not be upraded nor will be installed or upgraded as dependencies of whitelisted packages.


Unattended-Upgrade::Package-Whitelist {
  • Unattended-Upgrade::Package-Whitelist-Strict - boolean (default:False)

When set, allow only packages in Unattended-Upgrade::Package-Whitelist to be upgraded. This means that you also need to list all the dependencies of a whitelisted package, e.g. if A depends on B and only A is whitelisted, it will be held back.


Unattended-Upgrade::Package-Whitelist-Strict "true";
  • Unattended-Upgrade::AutoFixInterruptedDpkg - boolean (default:True)

Run dpkg --force-confold --configure -a if a unclean dpkg state is detected. This defaults to true to ensure that updates get installed even when the system got interrupted during a previous run.

  • Unattended-Upgrade::MinimalSteps - boolean (default:True)

Optimize for safety against e.g. power failure by performing the upgrade in minimal self-contained chunks. This also allows sending a SIGTERM to unattended-upgrades, and it will stop the upgrade when it finishes the current upgrade step.

  • Unattended-Upgrade::InstallOnShutdown - boolean (default:False)

Perform the upgrade when the machine is shutting down instead of doing it in the background while the machine is running.

  • Unattended-Upgrade::Mail - string (default:"")

Send an email to this address with information about the packages upgraded. If empty or unset no email is sent. This option requires a working local mail setup.


Unattended-Upgrade::Mail "";
  • Unattended-Upgrade::Sender - string (default:"root")

Use the specified value in the "From" field of outgoing mails.


Unattended-Upgrade::Sender "";
  • Unattended-Upgrade::MailReport - string (default: "on-change")

Possible values are "always", "only-on-error" or "on-change". If this value is not set then the value is set by using the legacy option Unattended-Upgrade::MailOnlyOnError (default:False) to choose between "only-on-error" and "on-change".

NOTE that "never" is achieved by not setting any Unattended-Upgrade::Mail

  • Unattended-Upgrade::Remove-Unused-Dependencies - boolean (default:False)

Remove all unused dependencies after the upgrade has finished.

  • Unattended-Upgrade::Remove-New-Unused-Dependencies - boolean (default:True)

Remove any new unused dependencies after the upgrade has finished.

  • Unattended-Upgrade::Automatic-Reboot - boolean (default:False)

Automatically reboot WITHOUT CONFIRMATION if the file /var/run/reboot-required is found after the upgrade.

  • Unattended-Upgrade::Automatic-Reboot-WithUsers - boolean (default:True)

Automatically reboot even if users are logged in.

  • Unattended-Upgrade::Keep-Debs-After-Install - boolean (default:False)

Keep the downloaded deb packages after successful installs. By default these are removed after successful installs.

  • Acquire::http::Dl-Limit - integer (default:0)

Use apt bandwidth limit feature when fetching the upgrades. The number is how many kb/sec apt is allowed to use.

Example - limit the download to 70kb/sec:

Acquire::http::Dl-Limit "70";
  • Dpkg::Options - list of strings

Set a dpkg command-line option. This is useful to e.g. force conffile handling in dpkg.

Example - force dpkg to keep the old configuration files:

Dpkg::Options {"--force-confold"};

Note that unattended-upgrades detects this option, and ensures that packages with configuration prompts will never be held back.

  • Unattended-Upgrade::Update-Days - list of strings (default:empty)

Set the days of the week that updates should be applied. The days can be specified as localized abbreviated or full names. Or as integers where "0" is Sunday, "1" is Monday etc.

Example - apply updates only on Monday and Friday:

Unattended-Upgrade::Update-Days {"Mon";"Fri"};

The default is an empty list which means updates are applied every day.

  • Unattended-Upgrade::SyslogEnable - boolean (default:False)

Write events to syslog, which is useful in environments where syslog messages are sent to a central store.

Example - Enable writing to syslog:

Unattended-Upgrade::SyslogEnable true;

The default is False - events will not be written to syslog.

  • Unattended-Upgrade::SyslogFacility - string (default:"daemon")

Write events to the specified syslog facility, or the daemon facility if not specified. Requires the Unattended-Upgrade::SyslogEnable option to be set to true.

Example - Use the syslog auth facility:

Unattended-Upgrade::SyslogFacility "auth";

The default is the daemon facility.


Automatic installation of security upgrades on apt based systems







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