I recently upgraded VirtualBox to version 5.1.16 and found that it has a bug1, so I downgraded back to 5.1.14. Now I would like both apt upgrade and Linux Mint 17.3's Update Manager2 to stop trying to get me to upgrade to this version of this package.

I know I could ignore updates for that package in Update Manager, and even better, pin the package in apt, but I don't want to be stuck on 5.1.14 forever3. I'm hoping that when 5.1.18 comes out, that this bug will be fixed, and if not that version, then 5.1.20, etc. So I'd like to be notified when the next version is available, which won't happen if I ignore updates for this package.

I know that I could rely on VirtualBox itself to inform me of updates, but first of all, I rarely start the main VirtualBox Manager, usually just starting VMs directly via shortcuts (so I'll rarely get a chance to get notified by VirtualBox). More importantly, I'm more interested in a general solution that doesn't rely on the package in question checking for updates itself.

1 If you're curious about the bug, on my Windows 7 guest, symbolic links to directories within a shared folder on the host aren't working correctly. I get an error when I try to descend into any subdirectories within them.

2 I'm still using 17.3 because I use the KDE edition, and Plasma 5, which the 18 series comes with, is still too unstable to use a daily driver (after nearly 3 years!).

3 Or until such time that I remember to undo the pin.

1 Answer 1


Instead of using a pin or a hold to force apt to stay on a specific version of a package, you can pin with a negative priority to prevent apt from considering a specific version (or version pattern):

Package: virtualbox
Pin: version 5.1.16*
Pin-Priority: -1

With this saved in e.g. /etc/apt/preferences.d/virtualbox, and perhaps the package name corrected, apt will ignore any packages of 5.1.16 but will consider other versions: 5.1.14 which you already have installed, 5.1.18 etc.


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