One of my Debian systems is rarely upgraded. So when it is time to upgrade, there are loads of packages. Right now I basically have to monitor the upgrade, because every 50 packages or so there is a package that needs help deciding if it should keep the config or have a new configuration put in.

My system is really slow, so I would prefer if I could tell the system to deal with as many packages as it can on its own and leave the rest for me.

So what I am looking for is something similar to make -k but for apt-get or aptitude. What I am not looking for is non-interactive configuration of packages: I do want to configure the packages, but I want the system to install/upgrade as many packages as it can before asking me to configure anything. That way I hope to return later, configure a bunch of packages, and the install the remaining (hopefully) few packages.


Also it would be nice that when I do return to configure that I can get to configure as many as possible. So it should start by postponing all packages that need configuration and when I return it should prioritize all packages that can be configured at this point.

  • If you just run apt-get with the --assume-yes option, does it show something on the console to indicate which packages are getting default config? If so, you could install everything and then just dpkg-reconfigure the defaulted ones after. – Useless Feb 24 '12 at 12:56
  • If the upgrade is 500 packages (which is not unrealistic) I really do not want to go through a log file manually to cleanup. I would rather it skipped those packages than installing overwriting with the default. – Ole Tange Feb 25 '12 at 23:43

This should do what you asked; asking the config questions afterward:

$ apt-get upgrade
# Wait a long time.   Should be almost entirely noninteractive.
$ dpkg-reconfigure --default-priority=medium --unseen-only

Alternatively you could try asking all the config questions before:

$ apt-get clean
$ cat >> /etc/apt/apt.conf <<EOF
// Pre-configure all packages before
// they are installed.
DPkg::Pre-Install-Pkgs {
    "dpkg-preconfigure --apt --priority=low";
$ apt-get upgrade
  • I just tested on another old system:# dpkg-reconfigure --default-priority=medium --unseen-only Option default-priority does not take an argument – Ole Tange Mar 11 '12 at 22:25
  • Tested on another server (a Lenny). PHP-ini blocked with a dialog box. – Ole Tange Mar 31 '12 at 20:43

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