How To: Update Ubuntu From The Terminal

It’s possible, even easy, to update Ubuntu from the terminal. Personally, I almost always update from the terminal, regardless of distro. This article will tell you how to update Ubuntu from the terminal – but it’s equally valid for Debian, official Ubuntu flavors like Lubuntu or Kubuntu, and it’s also valid for distros based on Ubuntu or Debian – such as Mint.

I recently did an article about updating Fedora from the terminal. Boy howdy, I hope that link works! It’s scheduled for publication so it doesn’t show me the real URL that it’ll have when it has been published! So, I hope I typed it properly! Either way, I recently did said article and figured I might as well do one for Ubuntu.

The tool we’ll be using is known as ‘APT‘ and apt has been a staple of Linux since Debian introduced it in the late nineties. It’s known as “Advanced Package Tool” and is used to configure and install applications. Even if you’re doing it graphically, it’s usually apt under the hood when you’re using Debian, Ubuntu, Mint, etc…

There really isn’t a whole lot to this, so it should be a reasonably short article. It’s also an article that may make the terminal more approachable for people who are new to Linux. Once you see how easy it is, you might decide to try it yourself! If it goes well, you might learn more about the terminal and the many ways you can use it. We can find out!

Update Ubuntu From The Terminal:

This article requires an open terminal, like oh so many other articles on this site. If you don’t know how to open the terminal, you can do so with your keyboard – just press CTRL + ALT + T and your default terminal should pop open.

Once you have your terminal open, you’re going to update your database of available software and the version numbers of said software. This database will be checked against the database of software (and versions) that you have already installed. It’s just a simple command:

That’ll let you know if there’s any software that needs to be updated and may take a few seconds to complete. If any software is available it will let you know and you can upgrade to the newest version. The notification will look something like:

You can, as stated, see which applications need to be upgraded to new versions by running that command. This upgrade process may also add or remove system software as needed. But, to upgrade, it’s just as easy:

This will spit out a list of software that will be updated, will be added, or should be removed – and you can enter “Y” to agree to the upgrades before pressing ENTER to continue. That’s it, you’re done.

However, I like to alias (an article still not written should link here) all this to a single command. My actual command looks like this:

That will update the database and make sure it completes successfully. It will then upgrade the software, effectively entering the Y for you. Finally, it will automatically remove software that’s no longer needed. Some folks might consider that command a bit risky to run automatically, but I’ve been doing it for years. Use it at your own risk!

Closure:

That’s it, actually. There’s really not that much more I can tell you about how to update Ubuntu from the terminal. Sure, there are other apt commands, but those aren’t really important for this article. Unlike the Fedora article, there’s no handy way to undo an upgrade with apt.

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How To: Use Wayland in a Live Ubuntu Instance

This article is based on an AskUbuntu question I answered a while back. The user wanted to know how to use Wayland in a live instance of Ubuntu. They wanted to test some Wayland stuff and this was how they wanted to do it.

I personally would have gone a different route, but that’s fine. There are likely other people who have this same question, so it seems prudent to put the answer up here, as others will likely want to use Wayland in a live environment.

It actually turned out to be pretty easy, so this isn’t going to be a very long article. If you follow the directions carefully, you should be able to use Wayland while running Ubuntu live.

Use Wayland in Ubuntu Live:

The first thing you need to do is boot into the live instance of Ubuntu, and then you change the way you login. You don’t want to automatically login for this exercise.

Click in the bottom right and ‘Show Applications.’ Once there, you can enter the word ‘users’, click on the settings app offered, and then disable automatic login.

Next, you have change the password. You’re forced to deal with Ubuntu’s need for a complex password. The password you pick must be at least 12 characters long, not a dictionary word, and have a mix of numbers and letters. 

Next, you want to edit “/etc/gdm3/custom.conf” and comment out the line that disables Wayland. To do this, we’ll open a terminal by pressing CTRL + ALT + T. That opens the terminal where you’ll enter:

Find the line:

Change it to (comment it out):

Make sure to save it. Just press CTRL + X, then Y, and then ENTER and nano will save it.

Restart gdm3 with:

If that doesn’t automatically log you out, log out manually.

Now start the process to log back in, but after you click the user, there’s an icon in the lower right. It’s a gear icon. Click that gear icon and choose  “Ubuntu on Wayland”. Then enter your password and press ENTER.

If everything worked, you’re now logged in with Wayland.

Now, if you want to verify that you’re using Wayland…

Press CTRL + ALT + T
to open the terminal and enter:

If you have done everything correctly, it looks like this:

live ubuntu running wayland
See? That’s how you use Wayland in a live Ubuntu instance. And now you know…

So, there you have it for those that want it. If you want to use Wayland then you can. You can do that in a live environment if you want. It’s Linux. You can do most anything, if you put enough work in.

Closure:

And there you have it. Another article is in the books. This one helps you use Wayland and helps you use it in a live Ubuntu instance. I suspect you could use this as a basis for other distros, but I’ve never actually tested that theory out. If you have tried it, let me know in a comment. Thanks!

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How To: Enable The Root Account in Ubuntu

This will be a quick and easy article, where I explain how to enable the root account in Ubuntu. It’s easy to enable the root account, but you may not want to. The choice is up to you.

This article really starts here, with a pet peeve. See, Ubuntu doesn’t ship with root enabled by default and it does that for security reasons. If there’s no root account, the root account can’t be compromised. Instead, it relies on sudo for elevating permissions. If you ask at some sites, they’ll give you a lecture instead of telling you how to enable root.

Me? I disagree with that. If you want to know how to enable root, I’ll tell you how to enable root. It’ll likely come with a blurb that tells you why you may want to avoid doing so – but I’ll give you the answer to your question.

About the only time I won’t give you a direct answer is when it’s obvious that you’re asking me to do your homework. I may also not tell people how to do their job. After all, I don’t want incompetence entering the workforce and I don’t want incompetent people staying staying in the field.

I view Linux as not just an OS but also as a bit of a philosophy, a philosophy of constant learning, continued improvement, and a never-ending quest for greater understanding. If someone wants to know how to enable root, I’m damned well going to tell them how to enable root.

Yes, it may lessen their security, and I’ll make sure to tell them that as well. I’ll be sure to tell them why Ubuntu made the choice and what it means if they undo it. It’s their system. If they want to enable root, I will help them do that.

Enable Root in Ubuntu:

Having said all of that above, it’s actually really trivial to enable root in Ubuntu. The first thing you’re going to do is open the terminal. Like always, you can use your keyboard, just press CTRL + ALT + T and your default terminal will open up.

Next, you’ll want to enter the following command:

Now, first it’ll ask for your current user’s password. Enter that. When you enter that, it’ll ask you to set a password for ‘root’. You’ll need to enter that password twice. Once you’re done with that, you’re done with it. That’s literally all it takes.

If you want to test this, you can login as root in TTY. Press CTRL + ALT + F3 and login as root, using the password you just assigned. To get back to your desktop, just press CTRL + ALT + F1 and it should bring you right back. If not, or if you’re not using Ubuntu, you can press and hold the left ALT button and then press the until you’re back at your desktop.

NOTE: This won’t enable GUI login as root. I’ll explain how to do that in a future article. This only enables the root account and nothing more.

If you do enable root, be aware that that means the root account can be compromised and used. Root has all the permissions. All of ’em… So, if the root account is compromised whoever has done so has complete control of the system. You should be aware of this before you make this change. Only make this change if you know what you’re doing and if you’re prepared for the consequences.

Closure:

And there you have it. You have another article in the books, this one explaining how to enable the root account. Think twice before doing so, but it’s your device and you get to make that decision. Just be aware of the consequences of doing so and you should be all set.

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How Long is my Ubuntu Support Going to Last?

Ubuntu versions, and official flavors, have different lengths of time that they’re supported. Today, we’ll learn how to tell how much longer you have Ubuntu support and what you can do about it.

Every two years, Ubuntu releases a LTS version. That means “Long Term Support” and the support length for that is usually 3 years, and then it enters ESM, which means Extended Security Maintenance. Except when they don’t, and you get 5 years of support and 10 years of ESM.

Ubuntu’s official flavors have LTS versions that also come out every two years. Those are supported for three years and then you have no access to the flavor-specific updates unless you update to the newest LTS version of said official flavor.

Every six months, Ubuntu releases an ‘interim’ release. These releases are supported for nine months, which means you have a three month window to upgrade to the next version before the upgrade window closes. These releases also explore new versions of software that will make it into the LTS releases.

LTS releases are always YY.04 releases, but not all YY.04 releases are in fact LTS releases. They’re only LTS releases if the year of release was an even year. So, 18.04 and 20.04 are all LTS releases and there won’t be another LTS release until 22.04 –  which, according to Ubuntu’s versioning format will be in April of 2022.

Confused yet?

I can’t blame you if you are! After all, unless you spend all your time learning about this sort of stuff then you’re not going to remember that. At best, you have the “proper” configuration and you upgrade when your OS tells you to upgrade. If you’re using an interim release and miss that upgrade notice then it can be quite an ordeal to upgrade to a new version.

Let’s figure this out.

How To: Check Ubuntu Support Status

Fortunately, you can check your support status pretty easily. The results may be confusing, but you’ll figure it out.

Like so many articles, let’s crack open the terminal. Just use your keyboard and press CTRL + ALT + T to open your default terminal emulator.

If you’re using 18.04 or older, then you use the following command:

If you’re using 18.10 or newer, then you’d use this:

Your output will look something like this:

Which, as you can see, says I have support until 2025. If I had ESM enabled, that’s software from the Ubuntu Advantage program, then I’d have security updates even longer. As you may recall, that requires Snap apps, and I’ve chosen to disable Snap Applications. So, obviously I won’t be doing that whole ESM thing. 

Not that it matters with the ESM, because I’m using Lubuntu. Where it says 2025, I have to assume “official support” to only last until 2023 – three years of support. Now, you can keep using an official flavor beyond those three years, it’s just that the official flavor parts won’t be getting any additional updates. That’s generally considered a Bad Idea®. But, you can do so, and that’s why the date for ending Ubuntu support is later than it really is.

Anyhow, that should make it more clear. You should find the end date of your OS’s support and keep that in mind. You should make plans to upgrade in a timely manner, because security updates are important to you and the rest of the ‘net.

NOTE: When your computer isn’t upgraded you’re a threat not just to yourself. You risk becoming compromised and becoming part of a botnet, spamming relay node, or worse. So, keep things upgraded. Thanks!

Like always, thanks for reading. You can participate by contributing articles, donating, or sharing the links with others. You can also sign up for the newsletter. I promise, I won’t send you any spam!

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