It’s that time of year again folks. Ubuntu has a new release!!!

One thing I’ve always loved about Ubuntu is it’s 6 month release cycle. The cycle means that we get releases far more often than we would if you ran macOS or Windows. The other nice thing is that Canonical like to release it on time. Though Fedora, the community Linux distro sponsored by Red Hat, is also supposed to release every 6 months, it normally gets delayed and the team just release it whenever.

And what a month to upgrade. With 17.10, Canonical have started on the alphabet again, because the release of May this year was known as Zesty Zapus, so our new release has had to start with A, and so has been christened Artful Aardvark.

With the changed name comes many more changers. As well as an upgrade to GNOME 3.26, the news that’s been hot on Ubuntu fan lips is that Canonical will be switching away from Unity and instead using the GNOME environment, so they can concentrate more of their efforts on the underlying system. In fact, the latest news in Ubuntu is that Canonical have joined the GNOME Advisory Board.

But enough of me droning on. Let’s actually install this thing.


Before I start, I would like to make one thing clear. This tutorial is for one purpose, namely the upgrading of an existing Ubuntu installation. If you want to install Ubuntu from scratch, then unfortunately we don’t have anything for that but we should soon. In the meantime, you can check the article our colleagues at MakeUseOf have made, The Beginner’s Guide to Ubuntu. I highly recommend reading the whole thing, but if you just want installation instructions, then skip ahead to Getting Ubuntu On Your Computer. Just beware that the article they link to is about 2 years old. You don’t have to mess around with the terminal to create the bootable USB. Just use Etcher instead.

With that off my chest, let’s begin the upgrade process.

First off, you need to check that your computer will recieve the upgrade. Because of Ubuntu’s release pattern, those who are running 16.04 or 14.04 (Xenial Xerus and Trusty Tahr respectivly) may need to change their settings. Start by opening the Software and Updates app. I’m using GNOME, so if you don’t, the interface may look different, but don’t worry. The steps are the same.Workspace 1_008

In the software and updates app, you’ll find yourself in the Updates section. Look at the dropdown menu which says, “Notify me of new Ubuntu releases.” If it says “For any new version” then you’re in the clear! If it says “Long Term Support Releases Only,” then you can keep it that way, but bear in mind that you won’t be upgraded to the new Ubuntu until 18.04 (Bionic Beaver) comes out in April 2018. If you want the new 17.10 upgrade, change this to “For any new version”


If you changed the setting, you’ll be asked to authenticate and then to update the software cache. This is normal, and if you don’t update the cache you won’t be eligible for 17.10 until you do update the cache.

After you’ve changed the settings, open and run the Software Updater. It will once more update its own cache, to check for updates. If there are any updates avalible, install them. Once you’ve run the updater and installed avalible updates, this screen will appear:



Click the Upgrade button as shown. You will be asked for your password, because you’ll be changeing system files. If you aren’t an admin, ask the admin for the password.

Workspace 1_012

After a few seconds, this box will appear:


This is not a license agreement. You already agreed to that when you downloaded Ubuntu. Ubuntu is licensed under the GNU General Public licence (GPL). This license is very permissive and not at all sneaky, but if you’d like to review it it’s available on the GNU website.

Once you’ve read the box (you don’t need to, but you can) click Upgrade. Another little box will appear. The job of this one is to calculate the upgrade needed. It will take around 5-10 minutes.


Then, yet another box appears. This one will ask you whether you want to upgrade to Ubuntu now. It will clarify its request by telling you how long the upgrade will take. Listen to its download estimate but ignore the installation estimate. The upgrade will probably take about 45 minutes to two hours, depending on your Internet and computer speed.


Do note that this isn’t a “Set it and forget it” thing. When I tried to schedule the upgrade using Cron and do-release-upgrade (which I’ll get to in a moment), I had to agree to a lot of prompts (again, this isn’t the license agreement but rather asking you if you wish to go ahead with the next step). Fortunately, you can work on your computer while the upgrade downloads, so just mess around, binge-watch YouTube, whatever. You can also leave your computer to do its thing and then check back periodically, if you like.

Terminal Upgrading

If you’re upgrading with SSH or are just a command line person, you will want to use the terminal to upgrade. Fortunately, this is of course possible.

To start I will assume you have your upgrade pattern set the way you want. If you don’t, skip to the top and do it. If you’re in SSH, I’m afraid you’ll have to make some assumptions. If you installed Ubuntu 14.04 or 16.04 initially and haven’t upgraded to a non-LTS version since then bad luck. I haven’t yet figured out how to change the setting with the Terminal… If you have access to a VNC connection use that instead.

If your situation is anything other than the scenario outlined above, then you’re good to go! Upgrading via terminal is very easy. All you do is open a terminal windows and type

<code>sudo do-release-upgrade</code>


(That last shot was taken from Bash on Windows but the process won’t actually work on there.)

Again, this isn’t set-it-and-forget-it. You will have to agree to a number of prompts, so don’t abandon the computer.

After the upgrade is complete, you will be asked to restart. Do so, and when the computer boots up, log in and start enjoying Artful Aardvark. You may not notice the difference immedeately (unless you’ve been using Unity), but this release is fully featured. One last word of advice is that you’ll need to add all your PPAs again because Artful needs different ones to Zesty.



One thought on “How To Upgrade Ubuntu

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