I keep getting this message when I logged into my server in AWS EC2 via ssh

I think this is called MOTD

43 packages can be updated.
22 updates are security updates.

but I have already done

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

I have also restarted my instance.

Please advise.

  • Is your instance ephemeral or EBS backed?
    – Caleb
    Commented Apr 23, 2011 at 12:54
  • EBS backed instance
    – Kim Stacks
    Commented Apr 27, 2011 at 9:46

6 Answers 6


Another one of these "fine" Ubuntu-bugs... Check Ubuntu Bug #634387: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/sysvinit/+bug/634387

I deleted the files "/etc/motd.tail" and "/etc/motd.tail.old" and did a logout / login to re-genereate a propper /etc/motd.


This is coming from the MOTD (Message Of The Day). The MOTD is pieced together from the commands in /etc/update-motd.d. The specific message comes from running /etc/update-motd.d/90-updates-available.

I have seen this happen on systems where after running sudo apt-get update and packages are kept back

The following packages have been kept back:
  linux-generic linux-headers-generic linux-image-generic
0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 3 not upgraded.

The message can mean several things e.g. there may be dependency issues etc. there is more on this in the APT HowTo.

I have managed to stop the messages with

sudo aptitude update
sudo aptitude safe-upgrade

If that doesn't work then the link above does give advice on how to track down the problem packages.

  • This fixed the problem on Ubuntu 16.04.3 LTS (Xenial Xerus)
    – rlib
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 8:29

I was seeing this same issue on Ubuntu 14.04

I edited /etc/pam.d/sshd

and changed this line
session optional pam_motd.so motd=/run/motd.dynamic noupdate

by removing the noupdate

now the banner displays correctly.

  • 1
    I think this answer is moving in the right direction for 14.04. On my own server (Ubuntu Server in a virtual machine), the motd changed after sudo apt-get dist-upgrade. In my case, that required a server restart, so I don't know whether the change to motd was little bit of a coincidence. I did not have to edit any of the files in /etc/pam.d, but I think I'd have first tried editing /etc/pam.d/login. That files has the same motd lines as sshd. Commented Mar 16, 2015 at 14:59
  • I've simply restarted after sudo apt-get dist-upgrade and the message was fixed.
    – Kimi
    Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 16:46

Run the following command:

sudo /usr/lib/update-notifier/update-motd-updates-available --force
  • 1
    I downvoted this answer, but it turns out my expectations were incorrect, and the answer itself may be correct. Unfortunately, serverfault has locked(!!) my downvote and I cannot undo it unless the answer is edited. :-(
    – mpb
    Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 0:57
  • This worked on Ubuntu 18.04 - Thank you Commented Nov 4, 2020 at 19:58

After numerous failed attempts, the recipe that works for me is based on Kimi and Lex Miller:

$ sudo aptitude safe-upgrade
$ sudo /usr/lib/update-notifier/update-motd-updates-available --force

Try this:

sudo apt-get install unattended-upgrades

sudo dpkg-reconfigure --priority=low unattended-upgrades

sudo dpkg-reconfigure -plow unattended-upgrades -f noninteractive -p critical

For more details: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/AutomaticSecurityUpdates

  • 1
    You give a recipe, but you're not giving any explanation or justification.
    – Law29
    Commented May 22, 2016 at 13:34

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