https://cloud.google.com/solutions/image-management-best-practices isn't helpful.

Should I recreate infrastructure from new images or sudo apt dist-upgrade?


If your images are Linux based the answer is: you can use sudo apt dist-upgrade.

Check https://cloud.google.com/compute/docs/images#debian for description what Google's engineers are altered in Debian.

All alterations are done via packages google-compute-engine & python-google-compute-engine those are preinstalled and available via /etc/apt/sources.list.d/google-cloud.list:

deb http://packages.cloud.google.com/apt cloud-sdk-stretch main
deb http://packages.cloud.google.com/apt google-compute-engine-stretch-stable main
deb http://packages.cloud.google.com/apt google-cloud-packages-archive-keyring-stretch main

Before dist-upgrade you need to alter /etc/apt/sources.list and /etc/apt/sources.list.d/google-cloud.list and change occurrences of stretch to buster.

With kernel updates you need to reboot VM.

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