I have an old (14.04) Ubuntu installation which is entirely divorced from the internet. I need to upgrade this to the current (20.04) release. I know that this is a multi-step process, so I don't need THAT particular set of advice.

I didn't realize that we were running the desktop version on the machine that I am upgrading, so I upgraded the server from 14.04 to the 16 server version. Following the instructions in


I commented out the remote sites, mounted the iso file and ran apt-cdrom, apt-get update and apt-get upgrade. This had the nasty side-effect of divorcing my server from the local LAN. After much trial and error (the trial and error involved the name of my ethernet interface), I was able to bring the machine back online by assigning a static IP using the /etc/network/interfaces file and rebooting.

Questions 1 - What did I do wrong here? Why had networking worked before without the interfaces file being populated except with the marker for lo0?

Question 2 - The server still thinks that it is running 14.04. lsb_release and uname -a both tell me that. Is it possible that the upgrade didn't really happen?

Question 3 - If the upgrade did in fact succeed, should I try to upgrade to the 16.04.7 desktop release, or proceed right ahead to the next release on my list, 18.04.6?

Question 4 - I did not do dist-upgrade yet; will that fix my version number?

  • 1
    Backup. Reinstall. Recover backup. Save 3 days of annoying work and enjoy the sun instead.
    – pLumo
    Mar 3, 2022 at 22:08
  • If lsb_release says you’re still on 14.04, that means base-files hasn’t been upgraded; if uname -a says you’re still on 14.04, that means the kernel hasn’t been upgraded (or you haven’t rebooted). Like I said previously, and pLumo said above, you should re-install. Mar 3, 2022 at 22:32
  • Stephen, thanks again, and I apologize for my newbie-ness. Mar 4, 2022 at 0:18
  • No need to apologise! What’s more, you’ve ended up with a task that would be difficult for an experienced admin. Mar 4, 2022 at 5:56

2 Answers 2


Your fourth question is the key here: apt upgrade only upgrades packages which can be upgraded without removing anything. That excludes a lot of packages when upgrading from one release to another; your release upgrade will only be complete after you’ve successfully run apt dist-upgrade.

Your second question means that the upgrade is only partial, see above.

Your first question might be explained by the above too; it would need more detail to answer properly, but I’m not sure solving it is all that useful in the circumstances.

As far as your third question goes, only you can answer that — is this a desktop system, or not?

I would still recommend backing up any important data and programs, and re-installing, instead of going through foir upgrades.


Your question is missing something important: What are you actually doing with this server?

Does it have a complex configuration? Or is it something rather simple like a print or a web server?

Unless it's something really complex and with the version of Ubuntu being this old I would simply backup the user data and config files, do a clean install and simply restore the user data and check the newly installed config files.

  • If they are similar to your old ones you can simply restore them, too.
  • If they have changed quite a lot you can only edit back the values to match your old server's settings.

Also consider other side effects that could happen. Runtime enviroments like PHP could have changed a lot or aren't available anymore.

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    Mar 9, 2022 at 5:47

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