apticron: cron-script to mail impending apt updates

November 30th, 2008 edited by Vicho

Article submitted by Justin Hamade. Guess what? We still need you to submit good articles about software you like!

Always wondering if your debian server needs an update? Apticron is a simple script that will email you when new versions of any package installed are available. This is very helpful for security related issues. The e-mail shows what has changed in the new version, obtained using apt-listchanges. It also tells you the repository where it comes from (ie. etch-security) and the urgency of the release (ie. high).

The configuration files are located in

  • /etc/apticron/apticron.conf
  • /etc/apt/listchanges.conf
  • /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/20listchanges

By default emails are sent to root. If you want root emails sent to yourself you can add your email to root in /etc/aliases and run newaliases.

apticron will run daily and let you know each day if there is any packages that require updating. Here is an example of one of its e-mails:

apticron report [Sun, 08 Jun 2008 06:48:58 -0700]

apticron has detected that some packages need upgrading on:

      [ ]

The following packages are currently pending an upgrade:

      linux-image-2.6.18-6-686 2.6.18.dfsg.1-18etch5

      linux-image-2.6-686 2.6.18+6etch3


Package Details:

Reading changelogs…

— Changes for linux-latest-2.6 (linux-image-2.6-686) —

linux-latest-2.6 (6etch3) stable-security; urgency=high

  * Update to 2.6.18-6.

 — dann frazier   Tue, 22 Jan 2008 22:47:16 -0700

linux-latest-2.6 (6etch2) stable-security; urgency=high

  * The arm build of 6etch1 is missing from 4.0r1.

    Since the latest security update of linux-2.6

    requires this new ABI, and an updated linux-latest-2.6 facilitates

    migration to the new ABI. Closes: #438617

 — dann frazier   Mon, 20 Aug 2007 17:01:18 -0600

linux-latest-2.6 (6etch1) stable; urgency=high

  * Update to 2.6.18-5.

 — dann frazier   Thu, 24 May 2007 17:05:09 -0600


You can perform the upgrade by issuing the command:

      aptitude dist-upgrade

as root on

It is recommended that you simulate the upgrade first to confirm that the
actions that would be taken are reasonable. The upgrade may be simulated by
issuing the command:

      aptitude -s -y dist-upgrade



cron-apt is a similar tool that can perform any action apt-get and aptitude can do. For example, it can automatically perform an upgrade when new packages available. However this is not recommend and can be a security risk.

apticron has been available in Debian since (at least) Etch and in Ubuntu since Dapper.

Posted in Debian, Ubuntu |

Comments are closed.