I'm currently upgrading one of my Debian 9/KDE machines and have around 1000 packages being held back after running sudo apt-get upgrade -> should I run sudo apt full-upgrade, sudo apt-get dist-upgrade, sudo apt-get install [~1000 packages] (how?) or something else?

Here it says:

New versions of currently installed packages that cannot be upgraded without changing the install status of another package will be left at their current version (displayed as “held back”). This can be resolved by either using aptitude to choose these packages for installation or by trying apt install package.

after the apt full-upgrade step.

In some stackexchange answers on related questions like this one it says that running apt-get dist-upgrade can be dangerous during a upgrade when packages have been held back and instead recommend using other more cautious methods than just running apt-get dist-upgrade or apt full-upgrade even though this old page at debian-administration.org says that to fix this problem one should run apt-get dist-upgrade.

When I run sudo apt upgrade (not in the official guide) instead of sudo apt-get upgrade it only shows 1 package having unmet dependencies.

1 Answer 1


As the release notes say, the next step after running

apt-get upgrade

(section 4.4.4) is to run a full upgrade with

apt full-upgrade

(section 4.4.5). This should resolve the conditions which resulted in the packages being held back with the minimal upgrade, notably by removing obsolete packages and installing new dependencies: apt-get upgrade only upgrades already-installed packages, whereas apt full-upgrade will remove and add packages as necessary as well as upgrading packages.

If apt-get can’t resolve the situation, it will tell you about it before upgrading anything. There’s not much point in worrying about what could happen before you try it; the section you’re referring to is useful if you do run into problems upgrading.

  • 1
    Isn't full-upgrade the apt command, and dist-upgrade the apt-get one?
    – muru
    Aug 12, 2019 at 11:35
  • @muru both are supported by both commands. I’ll update my answer to match the release notes though. Aug 12, 2019 at 11:43

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