Essentially, I'm looking at the .list files in /etc/apt/sources.list.d/. Each of them has a deb entry; I'm curious to know if there's a way to see if any new distribution exists for any of the entries.


Subscribe to debian-announce. No, really, you don't want to automate version upgrades, as by definition, things might break.

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    Whilst that is good advice in general, some of the third-party repositories don't have good announcement lists and aren't always completely up to date with mainstream Debian. – WheresAlice May 30 '10 at 22:24
  • Please note, for people coming by later, that this answer was auto-selected by SF, and not by me; I do not believe that this is the correct answer. – Glen Solsberry Jun 8 '10 at 12:49

Is sudo apt-get update; sudo apt-get upgrade what you're looking for?

Look at section 2.4 of this intro: http://newbiedoc.sourceforge.net/system/apt-get-intro.html

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    No, it's not. I'm looking to see if the line matching deb http://blah.com/debian sarge has an update (meaning I should switch to lenny etc. – Glen Solsberry May 10 '10 at 17:02

You tagged you're question as Ubuntu and Debian which is a bit confusing. Your comment to rescdsk's answer seems to indicate you're really looking for an answer for Debian.

However here's a solution for Ubuntu I'm not sure if it will work for Debian or not.

Install update-manager-core if it's not already on the system then you can see if there's a new release using do-release-upgrade -c

  • The comment is just an example. I could have instead said deb http://blah.com/ubuntu lucid, and been equally correct. The problem with do-release-upgrade is that it only checks the Ubuntu core. I'm trying to find if there's a new "release" for other sources, like Chrome, or VirtualBox, etc (moving from karmic to lucid, etc). – Glen Solsberry May 27 '10 at 16:43
  • Yeah that will only check the Ubuntu repos. I would imagine that you could test those repos using wget or curl in a script to see if they exist fairly easily. – 3dinfluence May 27 '10 at 17:16
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    That's the point of the question... does any such script already exist? – Glen Solsberry May 27 '10 at 17:46
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    I wonder what do-release-upgrade uses to check for new releases, and whether that could simply be extended to other repositories. It'd certainly be a nice way of doing it. – WheresAlice May 30 '10 at 22:27

Correct me if I am wrong, but if you want to do a dist upgrade with apt-get you would issue

apt-get update; apt-get -u dist-upgrade

This should prompt you for what will be upgraded. You may have to do this a few times if you are behind. If you are currently on Lenny than a simple apt-get update; apt-get -u upgrade will prompt you on what you need to install to update the system. The -u is important as it will show you what will happen before you hit Y (yes).

Now the above may not be what you are looking for but that is typical Debian/Ubuntu maintenance.

If you are trying to update programs that would be considered outside of the Lenny stable environment, you can add those 'repositories' to /etc/apt/sources.list. Once the appropriate lines are entered there you should enter the apt-get update command and then either apt-cache search NAME (to search for a specific program) command or you could do a apt-get -u dist-upgrade as above but be wary where you are pulling packages from.

If you actually want to scan the /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ files, you can do this but I do not see the point as apt-get will take care of all issues as far as stable debs are concerned. If you need a solution to check each deb, versus the update tool, I can definitely help. Just need more info on what you are actually trying to accomplish as the tools do the general admin for you.

Hope this helps

  • Just saw the comments, my post no longer applies – ThaKidd KG5ORD May 29 '10 at 7:10
  • I would guess with the comments on 3dinfulence's post, the only easy way to do this without going crazy, would be to add each important program's direct deb source to the sources.list file. Then the apt-get update; apt-get -u upgrade would apply. – ThaKidd KG5ORD May 29 '10 at 7:14
  • Are there only a few programs you are trying to update or just want to update everything outside of the deb/u core? – ThaKidd KG5ORD May 29 '10 at 7:21

If you are looking to do centralized management on DEB package updates for multiple systems, someone wrote a thesis on this. The project added DEB support to Spacewalk, which is an open source update manager for RPM-based systems.

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