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I have around 25 virtual machines running on Xen. I don't really feel like going through 25 VMs and running apt-get update && apt-get upgrade. I would much rather have it do that for me and in some way contact me if there are any packages to install. Is there a way to do just that? I am running Debian on the host and all the virtual machines.

Sorry it's a dupe: Best practices for keeping UNIX packages up to date?

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Duplicates… – Zoredache May 4 '09 at 20:01
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Cron-apt does exactly this:

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I like to have the minimum of auto-updated packages and the important ones are the security updates. For this reason, I add the following to the cron-apt config file:

OPTIONS="-o Dir::Etc::SourceList=/etc/apt/security.sources.list"

and then make /etc/apt/security.sources.list have just the Debian security repositories enabled. That way, I get all the security updates automatically installed in a timely manner (each night) and I can do other, riskier upgrades that might break things by hand.

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You should also look at running your own cron job if using aptitude:

Also look at the package Etckeeper for keeping backups of your /etc files in a repository (git, mercurial etc.).

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You probably wouldn't want them all going off looking for updates at the same time anyway so I'd be tempted to just 'cron' the job with different offsets to spread the load and script it to email you its output. You could then write an email rule that deletes 'no update' emails.

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You can use the $RANDOM environment variable to randomize the time. – duffbeer703 May 11 '09 at 0:36

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