Why You Should Always Keep Your Ubuntu Installation Updated [Linux]

Justin Pot 24-03-2011

update ubuntu installationWith a new release every six months, keeping up with Ubuntu can seem overwhelming. Still, there are many good reasons to keep updating to the latest version of Ubuntu: security updates, the latest software in the Software Center, optional access to bleeding edge programs and all of the latest features Ubuntu has to offer.


Next month’s Ubuntu release, 11.04 (codename Natty Narwal), will be radically different than releases before it. Using the Unity shell in place of the standard Gnome setup, 11.04 sports an elegant user interface and a plethora of changes. I’m using the alpha version on my primary computer (probably not a great idea, I realize) and am sincerely impressed. Expect a write-up next month, when 11.04 is officially released.

Many users won’t notice any changes, however, because they’ll keep using their older version of Ubuntu. Some won’t realize a new release is out, some won’t care to make the upgrade and still others will put off upgrading until later. While I wouldn’t recommend everyone make the switch on release day (bugs are sometimes known to be wiped out within a month of release), I do argue that using a relatively recent version of Ubuntu is a very good idea.

Happily, each release of Ubuntu is free to download and install. It’s also really easy to do an in-place upgrade; just run your update manager and you’ll be informed of the new release. There are more than a few benefits to staying up to date.

Get Security Updates

update ubuntu installation

Security is probably the most essential reason to stay up to date. Simply put, many Ubuntu computers are no longer receiving security patches because the release they run is too old.


A new version of Ubuntu is released every six months, each with a number as its name. This isn’t a traditional version number; rather, it represents a year and a month. Next month, for example, is April of 2011; the fourth month of the century’s eleventh year. As such, the Ubuntu release coming out next month is version 11.04. Before that came 10.10, which came out in October (the tenth month) of 2010. Most releases are provided with security updates for 18 months after they are released. The exception to this rule, of course, is Long Term Service (LTS) releases, which are supported for three full years.

Confused? Click here to find out if your version of Ubuntu is still supported. You’ll see a nifty chart outlining the support lives of every Ubuntu release. It’s important you make sure your version of Ubuntu is still getting security updates. If it’s not, your computer could be vulnerable, and it’s time to upgrade to a newer version of Ubuntu.

The Latest Software, In Your Software Center

ubuntu update after install

Ubuntu releases don’t just update what come with Ubuntu on the CD; they offer new versions of every piece of software in the repositories and the Ubuntu Software Center 5 Great Tips for the Ubuntu Software Center [Linux] Read More . As such, if you want quick access to the latest software, the simplest way is to use the latest version of Ubuntu.


That’s not to say that you can’t get the latest software on your older version of Ubuntu if you really want to. You could add an Ubuntu PPA What Is An Ubuntu PPA & Why Would I Want To Use One? [Technology Explained] Read More and get access to the latest version of particular software. But it will only get you so far.

Bleeding Edge Software

update ubuntu installation

Programmers are very likely to be using the latest version of Ubuntu. As such, if you want to try the latest and greatest Ubuntu software as profiled on MakeUseOf, you might need to be using a pretty new release. It’s not always convenient, but unfortunately it’s usually true.

As one of MakeUseOf’s Linux writers, I frequently feature exciting new apps for the platform. Frequently, in the comments section, I hear people saying a program doesn’t work on their computer. The reason is almost always a two-year-old version of Ubuntu.


Simply put: if you want to play around with new software you’re probably going to need a fairly recent version of Ubuntu.

New Features

Whether it’s Unity’s new user interface or improved printer drivers, there are usually a lot of great things in each new release of Ubuntu. Some of these can be added manually to older versions, of course, but the best way to get it all is to use the newest Ubuntu.


There are many different versions of Ubuntu Why Are There So Many Versions of Ubuntu? [Technology Explained] Read More , but pretty much all of them follow the same six month cycle. Regardless of what Ubuntu you use, staying up to date can improve your Ubuntu experience.

Can you think of any other compelling reasons to keep your Ubuntu installation up to date?  If so, please share them below. Also feel free to offer any compelling counterpoints you might have, because I always love discussing these things with readers.


Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Nashpd
    April 18, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    i'm on natty now on a laptop. I was on maverick when i bought the laptop a couple of weeks ago. It used to boot in approx 8 to 10 seconds. Since the upgrade to natty beta 2, it takes close to 30 seconds to boot. is this normal? should i be installing updates everyday? is it necessary? is this resulting in bloat? or is there files being replaced too? i need to know...

    • jhpot
      April 18, 2011 at 7:48 pm

      It's hard to say, but remember that you're using a Beta release. Most of the work to be done yet is to remove crud and speed everything up. I'd highly recommend installing the updates regularly, but you really shouldn't be using a Beta system for your primary computer.

  2. Adam
    March 25, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    As long as your version of Ubuntu has not reached EOL you will continue to benefit from security updates. So lets be clear, there is no need to upgrade your version of Ubuntu every 6 months for security updates if it has not reached EOL.


    Justin, I think you should further explore LTS vs non-LTS because then you may fully appreciate some good reasons why its not best to for some users to upgrade their version every 6 months, and / or particularly to go from LTS to a non-LTS version.

    Regards, Adam

  3. DarkDuck
    March 25, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    Post title has nothing to do with contents... 8-(

  4. Tudor Alex
    March 24, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    i use Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick instaled in MacBook Pro 6,2 and this Maverick "is highly compatibile" for my machine. so, i am not sure i will switch soon to natty ... bcs i should wait till they put driver update for this tape of machintosh machine ;((
    if not, yeahhh i am agree will should keep fallow the steeps of versions Ubuntu but also, to stay with versions like Lucid LST and Maverick till 2012 is not so bad ;) i am sure Canonical will soporte and patch Maverick till 2013 ;) bcs it is a great versione and verry accepted by a lots many others. not only my mac machine. i love to work in Ubuntu Maverick in place of snow leopard, i am deeply thankfull to Ubuntu comunity ;);))
    vivaaaaa Linux Ubuntuuuuu

    • jhpot
      March 24, 2011 at 9:24 pm

      Be sure to check for other people with your model; they might be able to tell you if drivers are up and working.

      Glad to find a Mac user who enjoys Ubuntu; you're not an altogether common soul. Keep enjoying Linux!

      • Tudor Alex
        March 24, 2011 at 9:35 pm

        thanks man, i realyyyyy love Ubuntu ;))
        yeah, i am already regustred to lunchpad, french ubuntu comunity, others forums eng also. peoples of Ubuntu comunity are realy "Unity" and usefull.

  5. RichieB07
    March 24, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    I'm still not sold on Unity yet. Unless they have the option to hide that sidebar (like an Intelli-Hide option), I'll end up finding a way to switch it back to panel mode.

    • jhpot
      March 24, 2011 at 9:22 pm

      You'll be happy to know, then, that the sidebar already auto-hides. I'm pretty impressed with how the did it; if you move a window where the bar is it disappears. Same goes if you maximize.

    • iwanttoknow
      March 27, 2011 at 1:08 am

      In the new compizconfing auto-hide and intellihide options are avalabe.... such as window dodge and auto-hide