How to Overcome Problems with the Ubuntu Update Manager

Christian Cawley 24-11-2015

Installing software in Ubuntu should be straightforward – and most of the time it is. But virtually every user has run into problems with the Update Manager, either with missing repositories or due to unusual errors indicating Internet connectivity issues Network Problems? 7 Diagnostic Tricks and Simple Fixes Network problems must be diagnosed before they can be resolved. This article covers seven simple tricks for fixing your network. Read More .


Let’s take a look at these problems, some of the related error messages, and how they can be addressed.

Updates Are Important

It’s a bit of a pain to go and install a new app or run some system updates for Ubuntu to fail. It might be tempting to not bother with the upgrade, or install the app manually How to Compile & Install TAR GZ & TAR BZ2 Files in Ubuntu Linux Read More but there is really no need for this. All you need is to update the repositories.


The Ubuntu Update Manager should manage this automatically but just in case things are lagging, you can open a Terminal 4 Ways to Teach Yourself Terminal Commands in Linux If you want to become a true Linux master, having some terminal knowledge is a good idea. Here methods you can use to start teaching yourself. Read More and input:

sudo apt-get update

This will refresh the repositories (what are repositories? Your Guide to Ubuntu Repositories and Package Management Read More ), which should enable you to get the new app that you were looking for. But what about the system updates?


Ubuntu Update Manager: What It’s For

In the Terminal, you could easily get your system upgrade by typing

sudo apt-get upgrade

But the whole point of the Ubuntu Update Manager is to bring a mouse driven GUI to the process. So why do errors occur, resulting in the updates failing and a dialogue box advising you to “check your Internet connection” in Ubuntu 14.04 and later.

Naturally, the first thing you will do is check your Internet connection, perhaps opening a Terminal and entering:


…or the URL for some other popular website that you know is online.


So why won’t the Ubuntu Update Manager connect and download the updates? The difference is in how the two apps, Update Manager and apt-get (the command line installer tool that is present on all Debian-based distros, such as Ubuntu and the Raspberry Pi’s Raspbian 5 Ways To Install Software On Raspberry Pi To do anything with a Raspberry Pi, you'll need to know how to install an operating system, and software to run on it. If you're new to Linux, this can be daunting. Read More ), connect. Update Manager will confirm the Internet connection with the NetworkManager process, while apt-get attempts a direct connection.

As the status of the connection changes over time, this can prompt NetworkManager to drop the connection, leaving your update high and dry. In contrast, apt-get will proceed, maintaining the connection as needed.

You might shrug at this stage and think “well, I’ll just use apt-get”. But by configuring the Ubuntu Update Manager correctly, you can continue to enjoy the mouse driven updates.

Ubuntu Update Manager Configuration

The first way around this problem is to download smaller updates first. You can do this by clearing the checkbox at the top of the tree and then selecting only the smaller downloads. Once these files have downloaded, you can then move onto each larger file.


This tends to work well for smaller updates, but for larger downloads you’ll need to reconfigure the Update Manager.


To get the Update Manager configured correctly, open it and click the Settings cog. From here, click the dropdown menu against Download from, and then click Select Best Server. The Update Manager will then perform a series of tests to ensure that the best server is then chosen.

Wait while the checks complete, and then click Choose server, and enter your password to confirm. The cache will then update.



After you close the Settings box, restart the updates in Update Manager. You should find that they download without any further problems.

Other Settings & Scheduling Updates

You can push through some other tweaks to how your software updates are handled in Ubuntu. For instance, the Other Software tab in the Update Manager settings screen displays which repositories are currently selected. This can be useful when troubleshooting other Update Manager issues — for instance, you might opt to remove (by unchecking) all PPA repositories (those with a ppa. prefix) to focus your updates. Also in this screen, you can add, edit and remove repositories, but you will need to know the full address of the repo you want to add.


One of the problems with receiving updates is that they can distract you from the work you want to do, and sometimes chew of resources you need. One way of avoiding this being an issue is to ensure that updates occur less regularly. This is possible in the Updates tab, where you can change the default Daily option to Automatically check for updates to Every two days, Weekly, or Every fortnight. A Never option is also available, but we wouldn’t recommend this.

Had any of the Ubuntu Update manager problems outlined here? Something else causing problems? Tell us about it in the comments.

Related topics: Software Updater, Ubuntu.

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  1. David Castor
    October 20, 2019 at 8:30 pm

    Update manager crashes every time I try to install updates...I have tried apt-get update and install from command line which does not generate any errors:

    sudo apt-get install
    Reading package lists... Done
    Building dependency tree
    Reading state information... Done
    0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 4 not upgraded.

    Frustrated and don't know where to look for clues as to why software updater is shutting down.

  2. Tim
    January 30, 2018 at 6:17 pm

    Thought I was on my way to a solution with this article but I cannot even get a best server. No suitable server found , check your internet connection! (17.04)

  3. William
    November 23, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    My Update Manager loads the list of updates then starts to install. I flashes downloading then immediately flashed FINISHED and closes. Not the normal functionality, to say the least. This only started today. I've used sudo apt-get (update and upgrade) and it installed the list of update that were showing in the Update Manager window. But it doesn't give me a "why" answer to the program crash. Any help is appreciated.

  4. Greg
    April 27, 2017 at 7:06 pm

    Be wary, Update Manager doesn't always have the latest version of whatever app you want. I just reinstalled Firefox because it was acting funny and now I'm stuck with an OUTDATED version that UC insists is the latest version but which is constantly getting "your browser is outdated" errors from websites like Gmail, Facebook, and Pintrest and cripples their functionality.

  5. CanadianInvestor
    January 11, 2017 at 11:47 pm

    Very useful info. The sudo apt-get update step unblocked a large backlog of updates on my 16.04 Ubuntu

  6. Alan price
    August 19, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    Every now and then I get this message when using Update Manager "Requires installation of untrusted packages" followed by "This requires installing packages from unauthentic acted sources"
    When I click ok I'm sent back to the desktop,
    I'm pretty much baffled by too much tech talk so please keep any answers as simple as poss.

  7. Anonymous
    November 24, 2015 at 11:31 pm

    Or you can avoid any problems with Update Manager by installing and using Synaptic, a Package Manager that works on all Debian-derived distros. It is much more flexible and capable than Ubuntu Update Manager. Synaptic has no problems with the size or the number of packages in an update. Synaptic can update the system, install new packages and remove unwanted ones all in one process. In Ubuntu that takes at least two packages - Update Manager and Software Center. The knock against Synaptic is that it does not have a pretty, modern interface and that it does show how many Ubuntu users like a particular package.

  8. Mordalo
    November 24, 2015 at 7:11 pm

    I prefer to just run sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade from the command line every few days. Easier and quicker for me, IMHO.