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I run the following command to upgrade my system -

aptitude update
aptitude dist-upgrade

However it gives me updates for the softwares and libraries that I have installed. This is not what I want. I want to upgrade the operating system itself, to apply any security patches or bug fixes. What is the way to do that?

I am running Debian 6.0 Squeeze.

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If you have a security source in /etc/apt/sources.list or /etc/apt/sources.list.d then that will install security patches and bug fixes. – bahamat Aug 26 '12 at 15:51
up vote 3 down vote accepted

aptitude update will update your software resources list and with this update you can upgrade your Linux distribution.

After this updating with aptitude full-upgrade you can upgrade your software version on current distribution version. I mean when you are on Debian 6 and there is a newer version like Debian 7, you just updated your software to the last version of them that come with Debian 6 and not 7.

And at last, with a dist-upgrade you will get the latest version of you distribution releases.

Edit: for a dist-upgrade you need to update your sources.list file too.

About updating your OS system separately from your software, this concept is Windows-specific and doesn't make much sense in Linux. When you dist-upgrade your system, you update everything.

To get more information about aptitude and apt-get use man command. type man man in your terminal to learn more.

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Thanks that explains it. I thought it was like windows update. Is there a separate command to update the kernel and system softwares only, since I don't want to upgrade everything else. – Kshitiz Sharma Aug 23 '12 at 11:12
Actually you can upgrade just one or more software separately with something like apt-get upgrade firefox. But it is not good too much to do that. – Shahinism Aug 23 '12 at 11:22
apt-get dist-upgrade does not magically upgrade you to the next release. – jordanm Aug 23 '12 at 14:56
@KshitizSharma No, there isn't -- because "everything else" is often version dependent on the system libraries, or on libraries that are so dependent. Mixing development trees is a recipe for disaster. – Shadur Aug 26 '12 at 7:20

Did you add the repositories of the release to your sources.list?

Also, upgrading to a new version in Debian or Ubuntu usually is only installing new versions of the applications you have installed. In some cases it will actually change packages (for example the Ubuntu change to Unity) but this doesn't always happen.

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“The operating system itself” consists of the software that you have installed. Everything comes through packages. If you've updated all the packages, your operating system is up-to-date.

You're running the stable release of Debian, so it's normal that you aren't getting forever new versions of programs, only security and major bug fixes. The stable release minimizes changes to installed software. If there's a major bug in a program, rather than upgrade it to its latest version, the Debian team patches the version in the stable release to fix the bug. (This is what any distribution that isn't “rolling release” does.)

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If your /etc/apt/sources.list is not important and just cd or dvd drive run the following command in step one:

echo "deb http://ftp.debian.org/debian sid main contrib non-free" > /etc/apt/sources.list

Step two:

run :

apt-get update

Step three:

run the following command:

apt-get dist-upgrade

Note: You will prevent to a set of problem within dist-upgrade, because gap of stable distro and sid is more, you can use the following command in each failure:

dpkg -a --configure ; apt-get dist-upgrade
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