I have a very weird issue on Debian Buster. I've enabled unattended-upgrades on the server as this is a very bare bones server and it should just update automatically. However, it seems that the apt timers for this never start.

When I check all timers, I get the following:

# systemctl list-timers
NEXT                         LEFT          LAST                         PASSED               UNIT                         ACTIVATES
Fri 2021-01-15 20:00:00 UTC  58min left    Fri 2021-01-15 19:00:00 UTC  1min 13s ago         logrotate.timer              logrotate.service
Sat 2021-01-16 00:00:00 UTC  4h 58min left Fri 2021-01-15 00:00:00 UTC  19h ago              man-db.timer                 man-db.service
Sat 2021-01-16 18:03:26 UTC  23h left      Fri 2021-01-15 18:03:26 UTC  57min ago            systemd-tmpfiles-clean.timer systemd-tmpfiles-clean.service
n/a                          n/a           Thu 2020-11-26 06:15:45 UTC  1 months 20 days ago apt-daily-upgrade.timer      apt-daily-upgrade.service
n/a                          n/a           Wed 2020-11-25 20:32:27 UTC  1 months 20 days ago apt-daily.timer              apt-daily.service

When I check the definition of the timer, it seems fine:

# systemctl cat apt-daily.timer
# /lib/systemd/system/apt-daily.timer
Description=Daily apt download activities

OnCalendar=*-*-* 6,18:00


And analyze seems to agree that the syntax is fine:

# systemd-analyze calendar "*-*-* 6,18:00"
  Original form: *-*-* 6,18:00
Normalized form: *-*-* 06,18:00:00
    Next elapse: Sat 2021-01-16 06:00:00 UTC
       From now: 10h left

But they do not fire. I tried running systemctl start apt-daily.timer, systemctl enable --now apt-daily.timer and systemctl restart timers.target, no effect. The command returns without an error, but nothing changes.

I'm at a loss on how to debug this further, any hints would be much appreciated.

1 Answer 1


Found my issue, I needed to upgrade systemd. Which is what the jobs were supposed to do, of course...

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