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When using synaptic on my Ubuntu desktop computer i can review all changelog of all the packages to be upgraded, and unselect a package for upgrade if I want. On my desktop I usually install everything, but I like to at least review what the changes are so that I can delay the upgrade if I suspect it could cause problems with the development tools I use.

On a server (Ubuntu Server) with no x-server how can I do the same thing on the console:

  • list all packages that will be updated (apt-get --dry-run upgrade does this along with a lot of noisy simulated install messages),
  • view the changelog (if any) from last upgrade to the version it will be upgraded to.
  • select which packages I want to ignore, or which I want to upgrade

I've searched a lot for this but I haven't found anything, possibly I'm not using the correct terminology; but surely this must be possible. Synaptic must get it's info from some some low-level tool I assume?

Complicated shellscripts are welcome too, if this is not already easily done with the existing tools.

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I don't know offhand how to do this, however, have you read over the man pages (man apt-get) or the help switch (apt-get --help)? – Aeo Jan 12 '11 at 14:19
Yes, that's why I'm asking. It could be a switch that does this, but I don't see it.. Culd be the man pages uses terms I wouldn't think of. – Stein G. Strindhaug Jan 12 '11 at 14:25
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Install the apt-listchanges package. Then when you run apt-get upgrade it should give you the list of changes before you go ahead.

share|improve this answer
Seems like it's the tool I wanted. Thanks! Just have to wait for new upgrades to test it... :) – Stein G. Strindhaug Jan 12 '11 at 15:16
Are there any options I need to supply to the apt-get upgrade command to make it list the changes? Tried it now, and it didn't show any list... – Stein G. Strindhaug Jan 13 '11 at 9:33
Have a look at /etc/apt/listchanges.conf and see what "which" is set to. I think it defaults to "news". Change it to "changelogs" or "both". – Niall Donegan Jan 13 '11 at 9:42
Also, install apticron and set your email up in '/etc/apticron/apticron.conf'. That way you'll get regular emails with any changes. – Niall Donegan Jan 13 '11 at 10:36
Works nicely now, I just had to change the /etc/apt/listchanges.conf so that "which=both" and "confirm=1" to get it to list the changelog and ask to continue afterwards. – Stein G. Strindhaug Jan 26 '11 at 8:41

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