Upgrade: Held Packages and Phased Upgrades - TUXEDO Computers

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Upgrade: Held Packages and Phased Upgrades

Linux in general, and thus also TUXEDO OS, offers various ways of keeping the system up-to-date once it has been installed. With TUXEDO OS this is done either via the graphical application Discover or directly via the package management in Konsole with APT.

If you use the latter method, you will probably see held packages in the output of the sudo apt upgrade command from time to time. We explain what this is all about in this article.

Update via console

If you keep your system up to date via the terminal, using the commands sudo apt update and sudo apt upgrade, you will occasionally see a message like The following packages are being held back followed by one or more package names. This is not an error message, but a function of Debian package management, which is also used in TUXEDO OS via Ubuntu.

Updates via the graphical interface with the app Discover also use the two APT commands in the background, but suppress this message. The terminal is simply more informative about system messages.

What’s behind it

But what does this message actually mean? In most cases, packages are held in the queue if dependent or other packages would have to be removed when upgrading to a newer version. But since the upgrade command cannot remove packages, the package is held. The command sudo apt full-upgrade, which is able to remove packages if necessary, helps here.

Combinations of packages from different releases or third-party repositories can also generate this message from time to time. Another reason occurs with comprehensive applications with a large number of packages, such as KDE or LibreOffice. Here, it can happen that not all packages are (or can be) uploaded at the same time. In these cases, it is best to wait until the situation has been clarified and all the required dependencies have been uploaded. This usually happens within a day, but sometimes it can take two or three days.

You can also sometimes find out the reason a package is held by using the package Aptitude preinstalled on TUXEDO OS by running the command aptitude why PACKAGENAME.

Phased Updates

On Ubuntu, but not TUXEDO OS, another reason for held packages has been added for some time, and it is called Phased Updates. This stands for a gradual update. Phased updates are software updates that are introduced gradually instead of being made available to all users at once. Initially, the update is only made available to a small group of Ubuntu machines. If the update proves to be stable, it is provided to a larger and larger number of users until everyone has received it.

Phased updates makes it easier for maintainers to spot serious bugs early on, before they have a chance to cause problems for the majority of users. In such cases, this makes it possible to withhold the update until the bugs are fixed.


If TUXEDO OS keeps the same packages on hold for three or four days, it is advisable to use the command sudo apt upgrade to see if this resolves the situation. In the vast majority of cases, this works perfectly.