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When doing an apt-get upgrade I sometimes get a message saying "The following packages have been kept back". For example:

$ sudo apt-get upgrade                                                                                                
Reading package lists... Done                                                                                                          
Building dependency tree                                                                                                               
Reading state information... Done                                                                                                      
The following packages have been kept back:                                                                                            
  linux-headers-server linux-image-server linux-server                                                                                 
0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 3 not upgraded.

What does this mean exactly? Obviously the packages have been held back and not installed, but why?

The follow-on question would be: how does one upgrade these kept back packages?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Basic report is that "apt-get upgrade" will not upgrade packages for-which the package-manager would like to delete and reinstall the package. This happens in security patches a lot because, often, it was actually libraries precursor to the final distributable compilation which were patched. The "go ahead and delete things," functionality lives in "apt-get dist-upgrade" but be sure to run "apt-get update" first just in case the upstream guys figured something out since you last tried. Sometimes they miss things and fix them that fast.

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solution - just issue :

sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

which will update the held back package and so clear that notice

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Just do

sudo apt-get install linux-headers-server linux-image-server linux-server

and you will be fine.

Doing "apt-get dist-upgrade" will upgrade your OS to a new version which is often what people do not want.

p.s. - I know that thread is somewhat old, but this question is asked a lot, so I guess it will help to many.

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This is incorrect. apt-get dist-upgrade will NOT upgrade your OS to a new version. man apt-get to see the differences. –  BT643 Oct 16 '14 at 9:15
@BT643 (and those who upvoted the comment) please downvote wrong answers instead of just leaving a comment. Especially blatantly wrong answers like this one that perpetuate a common misconception. We depend on votes to bring good content to the front but also to push wrong content down. –  terdon Nov 5 '14 at 0:58
@terdon I tried but don't have enough rep :) (need 125 to downvote). –  BT643 Nov 5 '14 at 10:00

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