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How to enable Ubuntu Pro to gain 10 years of security for your desktop

Ubuntu Pro gives your desktop Linux operating system 10 years of security updates, so that it can go an entire decade on the same release. Find out how easy it is to enable this feature.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Reviewed by Min Shin
Woman working on a laptop
Nitat Termmee/Getty Images

Ubuntu Pro is a service Canonical introduced a while ago that ensures your operating system and over 23,000 applications receive security updates for 10 years. That's impressive. 

For those who might not understand the implications, imagine you could install an operating system and never have to re-install it for 10 years. 

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The entire time you use that operating system, you don't have to worry about a stoppage in security updates. That's a departure from most operating systems that give you around five years of updates. 

One thing to keep in mind is that Ubuntu Pro can only be installed on Long Term Support (LTS) releases, such as 16.04, 18.04, 20.04, and 22.04

For anyone who uses Ubuntu as a personal desktop operating system, you can have Ubuntu Pro for free. That's right, it's an important service for the Ubuntu Linux distribution and it can be had for free (so long as you're using it for personal reasons). 

Also: The best Linux distros for beginners 

Although Ubuntu Pro is available for free, it's not installed or enabled by default. I'm going to show you how to do just that.

How to enable Ubuntu Pro 


To make this work, you'll need the following: A running instance of an LTS Ubuntu release, an Ubuntu Pro account (it's free), your Ubuntu Pro token (more on this in a bit), and a user with sudo privileges.

That's all you need. Let's get to the enabling.

1. Copy your Ubuntu Pro token

The first thing you must do is log into your Ubuntu Pro account and access your Dashboard. 

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To access the Dashboard, click your name in the upper right corner, and select Ubuntu Pro Dashboard. Once in the dashboard, copy the string of characters under Token.

The Ubuntu Pro Dashboard.

Copy your token by either highlighting it and hitting Ctrl-C on your keyboard or by clicking the link icon to the left of the string.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

2. Install Ubuntu Pro

Open a terminal window and install the ubuntu-advantage-tools application with the command:

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-advantage-tools=27.13.5~$(lsb_release -rs).1

One thing to keep in mind is you'll want to make sure you're installing the latest stable release of ubuntu-advantage-tools by checking this site before running the command. Substitute 27.13.5 for whatever latest stable release is listed.

3. Attach your operating system to Ubuntu Pro

You now need to attach your system to your Ubuntu Pro account. This can be done with the command:

sudo pro attach TOKEN

(TOKEN is the Ubuntu Pro token you copied from your dashboard).

4. Enable Extended Security Maintenance

It's now time to enable the Extended Security Maintenance (so you're operating system benefits from 10 years of security updates). 

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Do this with the command:

sudo pro enable esm-apps

5. Checking the status

To check the status of available upgrades, issue the command:

pro security-status

The above command will print out something like this:

1678 packages installed:
 	1642 packages from Ubuntu Main/Restricted repository
 	34 packages from Ubuntu Universe/Multiverse repository
 	2 packages no longer available for download

You can find out how many packages are associated with ESM with the command:

pro security-status --esm-apps

Upgrade those packages with the command:

sudo apt-get upgrade -y

The apt-get command will pick up all upgrades (including those associated with ESM). If you don't want to run the upgrade command, you can also wait until you're prompted by the GUI to apply upgrades as they become available.

Also: How to choose the right Linux desktop distribution

And that is all there is to enabling 10 years of security updates for your Ubuntu desktop. This process also works for Ubuntu Server, so if you've deployed Ubuntu to your home network, you can take advantage of the program as well.

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