Apt update vs apt upgrade

Before getting into this article you should understand the basics of the Linux Operating system and its application package tools including apt update vs apt upgrade. Unlike UNIX which is a commercial OS, LINUX OS is an open source Operating system. You can install Linux OS on any number of computers as it is free of cost as well as the installation procedure is pretty easy. Most of the top companies prefer to use Linux OS because it allows programmers to customize their OS. Also, it is absolutely free and highly secured and has more features compared to other OS. The most trending Android also uses Linux at its base as Linux kernel. The kernel is the core part of an OS. It’s almost like a seed inside a shell. Here APT is the seed present inside the OS.

All the programs needed for the efficient working of the Operating system are packed as software inside the OS.So, to customize any of these applications based on user request or for any update of this software we access these packages through apt commands. If we get into learning Linux in detail you will come across all these topics such as Linux commands, Directories, Files, File Contents, File Permissions, shells, VI editor, etc. Let’s look at Apt commands in detail in Linux distributions. As Linux is one of the most reliable, secure, and dependable platforms on both desktops and servers you can choose one of the Linux distributions to run your apt commands.

Apt update vs apt upgrade

Apt, the Advanced Package Tool is a collection of tools used to interact with the command line application to install, update, upgrade, remove, or maintain the software packages widely used in Linux-based distributions such as Ubuntu, Debian, LinuxMint, Fedora, Arch, OpenSUSE, and others. If you want to do any of these changes to the present package in my system without looking back for a second you should use the advanced package Management tool. There are other packages as well such as Fedora, Redhat, etc where the commands differ from the ones which we use in Linux. The command line interface is a text-based interface where the user enters the text on the console or cmd and the commands are executed in the OS.

It is a front-end tool that acts as an interface between the system and the database or software repositories in the OS. A packaging system provides programs to install or update the application on your desktop. In simple words it is used as a command line utility tool using certain commands for updating, upgrading, installing, adding or removing, and maintaining software from the software repositories on whichever operating system that you use. It is used by companies that handle the installation, categorization, and removal of applications into the user’s system. There are many commands to be looked into in depth. but let’s have an eye on the apt update vs upgrade command. In this article, you will also learn about packages and the different package management tools used by Linux.

Apt update vs apt upgrade

Apt UpdateApt Upgrade
Update command provides information about the list of the application package that needs any updates to their existing functionalities or features of the software.The Upgrade command is used to add extra functionalities and features to our existing application package and upgrade it to provide a new version of the application
The process is simple as we just get the details of the update.The process is complex as we are upgrading our existing application to a new version.
Not many changes are made to our system as it only provides the information that any of our applications needs to be updatedBut in case of an upgrade, we will download and install some packages to add much more functionalities to the existing version
Apt update doesn’t consume much time and within seconds you will get the details of the software that needs updates.Apt upgrade consumes a lot of time as your system will be involved in installing the new version of the software
The commands used in Linux-based distributions for updating software: sudo apt update or apt-get update  

The commands used in Linux-based distributions for upgrading software:sudo apt upgrade or apt-get upgrade
Updating doesn’t occupy much of your system’s space.Upgrading occupies a lot of space in your system as it is downloading the files related to the package 
Update command interacts with your System OS and softwareUpgrade command interacts with System hardware and system software
Apt update command synchronizes all the package index files and its dependencies from its authenticated source file.The apt upgrade command retrieves information about the updates and installs it in the user’s system and upgrades it to a new version
The application package or software version remains the same after using apt update The application package or software version varies after upgrading 

Apt commands in different OS

The APT command provides an interaction with the command line tool to maintain the package system present in your system. Firstly these commands were popularly used in Ubuntu and Apt was the recommended command to be used in all Linux Distributions such as Centos, Fedora, Oracle Linux, OpenSUSE, and Mageia. Each Linux distributions use different package managing tools to install the software. To install any package in your system one of the options is to use Command Line Tool. Apart from apt commands, there are other commands such as YUM, RPM, and DNF used by Red Hat-based Distros.

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Even android has its package named APK which has a single large repository in the Google play store. Debian-based distros will use the apt commands while the Fedora Based distributions will use the yum command to install packages. But both functionalities remain the same. For example, let’s say you want to download files from the system. For this the command we use is wget. Let’s see how we use this command in both Ubuntu and Fedora distros.

In Ubuntu to install the package wget, we will use the following command to install this package in our system. we use sudo to get the privilege as a super user to execute the commands.

Sudo apt-get install wget. In the Fedora-based distribution to install the same package, we use the yum command in the command line tool.

Yum install wget

Sudo command 

If you are working in a command line tool you would come across the word sudo. Sudo allows you to interact with the command line tool as another user instead of the root user. Sudo command also known as superuser or another user allows the user to execute commands in a terminal only when they are configured in the system. In a Linux os system if you are not configured as a root user then you need to enter a password to type commands. Or else if you type any command you will be getting a Permission denied message. sudo is pre-built in all Linux distributions. 

To check whether sudo is installed in your system open your terminal and type sudo, and press Enter. If sudo is not installed you will get the message sudo command not found. If sudo is not installed in your system you can easily install it using these commands:

Install sudo in Ubuntu and Debian:

$ apt install sudo

Install sudo in CentOS and Fedora:

$yum install sudo


Your system works by having many packages stored in a repository. If you want to ensure your apps function without any trouble, constantly you have to put some effort into updating and upgrading the software available in your database. If you don’t update your repository your system will not know about the new version of packages available.

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Use the following apt commands to update, install, query, remove, and configure apps or programs in your Debian or Ubuntu OS. The basic syntax to do all the above commands to your packages are here.

apt command:

apt [options] command
apt [options] command pkg1
apt [options] command pkg1 pkg2

Let’s look at the commands one by one.

How to use the Apt update command?

sudo apt update

When you want to know about the latest version of packages that you are currently using in your system you will use the apt update command. It doesn’t do any changes to your system. It will neither download nor install any package from the configured sources.

This command can just show you if there is any update available for your current version. No changes will be made to your packages by this command. You can get to know only the details of the latest version of your current software used in your system.

How to use the apt upgrade command?

Once the update command gives you detailed information about the latest updates available you can start downloading the software and update to the latest version using the upgrade command.

apt update command- will just list me all the packages that have an update. If I want to install that update type sudo apt upgrade. This command is used for checking whether any update is available for a certain package 

so this command will upgrade all the packages at once that are installed in our system. It will mention the storage required for the file and the amount of data or internet required to download the package. It asks you, do you want to continue?[Y/n].this is for upgrading all the packages at once. if you want to upgrade a single package copy a single file name and type an apt upgrade file name. If you want to cancel the upgrade you can press N here.

apt full-upgrade

This command serves the functionality the same as an upgrade but with some added functionalities. this command upgrades your system as a whole. It will automatically remove any installed package if it’s no longer needed. Update the latest version of all the packages in your system. With one single command, you can update your entire system without much effort.

Tips: both apt update and apt upgrade are administrative commands. So you have to run these commands as a root user. so using sudo in both the commands is a must and it allows you as the root user in both Ubuntu or Debian-based Linux OS.

How to use other apt commands?

Here is the list of other apt commands and their purpose. there are many commands but I will list out a few for a basic understanding of how the command works. Let’s know about its function and syntax of using the command one by one 


This command is used to get the details of the installed application and to know if any updated versions are available for that application package.

  • Syntax:
  • Apt update


This command is executed when we want to upgrade the installed applications, it will upgrade by downloading all the packages related to that application and keeping it updated 

  • Syntax:
  • Apt upgrade
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This will upgrade the entire Linux system as a whole.

  • syntax:
  • apt full-upgrade


This command is used to install one or more specific packages by assigning an equal symbol followed by the package name and then entering the version number.

  • syntax:
  • apt install […PACKAGES]


This command is used to remove the already installed packages if it’s not needed or doesn’t serve any purpose.

  • syntax:
  • apt remove […PACKAGES]


This is the same as the remove command but the difference is that it also removes the configuration files associated with that package.

  • syntax:
  • apt purge […PACKAGES]


This command is used in the case where we had installed a package and some dependencies associated with that package would have been installed along with that. if that package is no longer in use we can remove that installed app and its dependencies by using this command.

  • syntax:
  •  apt autoremove

This command is used to search a specific package with its specific feature name 

  • syntax:
  • apt search […REGEX]


This command is used when you want to know the details of the package either to install or remove it .its better to know the information about packages, their dependencies, configuration details, and the package content description to install it or to remove it.

  • syntax:
  • apt show […PACKAGES]


This command lists out the package names that meet certain criteria. Using the below syntax you will get the details of the installed, upgraded, or all versions of certain package names.

  • syntax:
  • apt list [–installed/–upgradeable/–all-versions]


This command is used to display the current version of the package which you are using.

  • syntax:
  • apt –version


Package management tools are used by system or server administrators to handle the applications present in their system. Hope you would have got enough details about how to use apt commands in your Linux-based systems.Though there are many other OS that uses different packaging tools such as yum,dnf, and rpm. In Linux distributions, you will find a lot more options to interact with application packages. Most Linux-based distributions use apt commands. Linux is most popular because of its unique features and above all its open-source OS. The most mandatory commands are the apt update vs apt upgrade commands. The world keeps on updating every second with new features and functionalities related to technology or whatever field it be. So let’s keep our application packages updated by using apt update and upgrade commands.


What is the difference between an apt update and an apt upgrade?

Many people have a wrong assumption that if we give the apt update command all the packages will be updated and yes, the work is done. It’s a big No. Suppose you have X package of 1.3 version installed in your system and once you give the apt update command it updates the database and let you know the details if a new version 1.4 of that X package is available. once getting the details you need to give the apt upgrade command to install the files related to the 1.4 version of the X package. In Ubuntu systems, we can give both commands in a single line as, sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade -y

What’s the difference between apt and apt-get?

Apt is an enhanced version of apt-get. apt-get command misses out on some functionalities and was inefficient in handling the packages .suppose if you want to search for an installed package you have to use the get-cache command. And if you want to list out all the package names from your Debian-based Linux systems you need to enter apt-get-selections. so this way any newbie 
Will find it hard to remember these commands. apt combines all the functionalities of apt-get and it is user-friendly.

Why is the apt-get command not found?

When you use the apt-get command to install or remove a package you would have got this error, apt-get install httpd24
The reasons for the above error might be due to the following reasons.
1. The operating system is not supportive means this command doesn’t work in RPM-based OS such as Fedora, RHEL, and CentOS.
2. The APT package is not installed. If you are using the right OS and tend to get this error then you may need to manually install the package.
3. Always try to use the right packaging manager which supports apt commands.
4. Download the latest APT packages that are compatible with your system.
5. Reinstalling the OS and make sure all the commands are executed using the sudo keyword.