​How to upgrade to Ubuntu Linux 18.04

With Ubuntu 18.04 Linux, the next long-term support version, coming out shortly, it's time to go over how to upgrade this popular Linux distribution.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

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Soon, Ubuntu 18.04, aka the Bionic Beaver, and Canonical's next long-term support version of its popular Linux distribution will be out. That means it's about time to consider how to upgrade to the latest and greatest Ubuntu Linux.

First, keep in mind that this Ubuntu will not look or feel like the last few versions. That's because Ubuntu is moving back to GNOME for its default desktop from Unity. The difference isn't that big, but if you're already comfortable with what you're running, you may want to wait a while before switching over.

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Eager to make the move? Well, before starting, you should backup your existing Ubuntu desktop. There are many ways to backup Ubuntu. My favorites for complete system backups are Ubuntu's default Déjà Dup and CloneZilla. Whichever method you use, you should also check the restore to make certain your backup is good.

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Ubuntu 18.04 GNOME interface

Ubuntu 18.04's default interface has changed from Unity to GNOME.

(Image: SJVN)

Next, if you want to do this from the GUI, take the following steps:

  • Open the "Software & Updates" setting in System Settings.
  • Select the third tab, called "Updates."
  • Set the "Notify me of a new Ubuntu version" dropdown menu to "For any new version."
  • Press Alt+F2 and type in "update-manager -cd" (without the quotes) into the command box.
  • Update Manager should open up and tell you: New distribution release '18.04' is available.
    • If not, you can also use "/usr/lib/ubuntu-release-upgrader/check-new-release-gtk".
  • Click Upgrade and follow the on-screen instructions.

That's really all there is to it.

If you'd rather use a shell, you start with the commands:

$ sudo apt update

$ sudo apt upgrade

This makes sure your Ubuntu is up to date. Next, follow this up with:

$ sudo apt dist-upgrade

This handles changing software dependencies with new versions of packages.

I then follow this up with:

$ sudo apt-get autoremove

This removes dependencies from uninstalled applications. You can do the same thing from the GUI desktop with the utility application Bleachbit. After that, it's time to get things ready for the big upgrade with:

$ sudo apt install update-manager-core


$ sudo do-release-upgrade

This will start upgrading your system to 18.04. Along the way, Ubuntu will ask you several questions about how to handle the upgrade.

If you just can't wait for the final release, you can already move up to the beta by using this command:

$ sudo do-release-upgrade -d

The entire update from Ubuntu 16.04 to 18.04 consists of 1GB of data. So, you'll want to do this either when you have a lot of time or a fast internet connection.

I was able to upgrade my systems, which had been running 17.10 and 16.04, during my lunch hour. In short, upgrading Ubuntu shouldn't take you long at all.

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