Because of the Shell Shock bug I need to make updates on some of our machines.
But I am not sure if all of the packages suggested in apt-get upgrade are OK for my system. In other words I am not sure if there are any dependencies.

Our system administrator is not here yet and we cannot contact him.
So my question is, how can I only apt-get upgrade the security updates, without having to update everything to the newest available version in debian stable?

apt-get install --only-upgrade bash did the thing for me.
On one of our servers, there was still just Debian Squeeze installed.
Changing squeeze to wheezy in /etc/apt/sources.list and then running:
- apt-get update
- apt-get install --only-upgrade bash
installed the fixed bash into this older squeeze system.

  • 1
    "the newest available version in debian stable" usually is the security updates. Stable typically does not change otherwise. There are some packages that are just upgraded to the newest release (e.g. chromium) because it is too hard for the security team to backport security fixes (I think), but you should upgrade that too. Sep 25, 2014 at 8:37
  • Hi - I'm also using Squeeze but I'm having trouble getting Bash to upgrade. Can you post the line(s) you changed in the sources.list file, in case the squeeze version is missing from mine?
    – Grim...
    Sep 25, 2014 at 10:28
  • 7
    I would warn readers not to casually change squeeze to wheezy, because that is a major Debian upgrade. The 'wheezy' version of bash depends on newer versions of several core libraries, such as libc6, so you would be risking instability. You are not merely upgrading bash, but shared libraries that almost everything else in Debian will be using. Use Squeeze LTS instead (see answer below).
    – Rob
    Sep 25, 2014 at 14:13

4 Answers 4


For Squeeze use squeeze-lts if possible! (i386 and amd64 only...)

append this to your sources.list:

deb http://http.debian.net/debian squeeze-lts main contrib non-free
deb-src http://http.debian.net/debian squeeze-lts main contrib non-free

and then run

apt-get update
apt-get install -t squeeze-lts --only-upgrade bash

Here is more detail on squeeze-lts: https://wiki.debian.org/LTS/Using

If you really want to patch debian lenny check out this gist (but rather consider updating to a newer distro!)


You can use:

apt-get install --only-upgrade <package>

If is installed, this will upgrade only the specified package.

  • According to the man page for apt-get, the only-upgrade option merely prevents installation of the specified package if it wasn't installed. Note that it does not prevent dependencies being installed. (NB The bash package in Debian is always installed, so the option would have no effect.)
    – Rob
    Sep 25, 2014 at 14:20

Ubuntu 12.04 “Precise” and 14.04 “Trusty”, Debian 7 “Wheezy”

apt-get update; apt-get install bash

Debian 6 “Squeeze”


deb http://http.debian.net/debian/ squeeze-lts main contrib non-free
deb-src http://http.debian.net/debian/ squeeze-lts main contrib non-free


APT::Default-Release "squeeze-lts";

Then run the update:

apt-get update; apt-get install bash

Patching older and unsupported systems as Lenny

# Retrieve and install dependencies first
apt-get update && apt-get install build-essential gettext bison

# Get bash 3.2 source
wget http://ftp.gnu.org/gnu/bash/bash-3.2.tar.gz
tar zxvf bash-3.2.tar.gz
cd bash-3.2

# Download and apply all patches
# Includes patches for CVE-2014-6271 (52) *AND* CVE-2014-7169 (53) *AND* Florian Weimer patch (54)
for i in $(seq -f "%03g" 1 54); do
    wget -nv http://ftp.gnu.org/gnu/bash/bash-3.2-patches/bash32-$i
    patch -p0 < bash32-$i

# Compile and install to /usr/local/bin/bash
./configure && make
make install

# Point /bin/bash to the new binary
mv /bin/bash /bin/bash.old
ln -s /usr/local/bin/bash /bin/bash
  • Please note: this makes you switch to squezze-lts, the next time you run apt-get upgrade - Which is a good idea, but something you should be aware of. If you'r building bash-3.2 for older systems, make sure that make went well before issuing make install Sep 30, 2014 at 17:07
  • I agree, execute commands sequentially is better. Caution is never enough.
    – Ales
    Oct 1, 2014 at 10:54

add this to your sources list:

deb http://ftp.de.debian.org/debian sid main

apt-get update apt-get install --only-upgrade bash

  • 4
    This is not a good idea. Next time the OP runs apt-get upgrade the entire system will be moved to sid.
    – terdon
    Sep 25, 2014 at 16:46

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