What you probably didn’t know about Ubuntu Update Manager

Not all people update everything that is suggested in the Ubuntu Update Manager. I for one am one of those Ubuntu users who likes to select only a few items for update. There are even users I personally know who prefer not to update anything on their Ubuntu desktop.

The Ubuntu Update Manager does its intended task very well. There is no doubt about that. However, when it comes to the UI design, I must admit it’s not very user-friendly. Take for example its settings of having all available software updates checked by default. If you didn’t know any better you would think Ubuntu is insisting that you download all the updates without any exception.

Thankfully, that is not the case. Like me, I don’t really care if I have the latest version of CUPS, simple-scan, ghostscript or Evolution, for example. Why would I want these when I don’t use a printer, a scanner, hardly read PDF files and don’t download my mail to my desktop? And what about the dozens of other updates available? I don’t care much about them too. So do I uncheck each software I don’t want updated? That could take so long if there are hundreds of updates available.

The Update Manager, unfortunately, isn’t very helpful when it comes to this matter. While right-clicking anywhere within the list brings up the “uncheck all” and “check all” option, what it does is do exactly what the option says. What if I only want to update the Important Security Updates and leave out everything else?

It is a good thing that the updates are normally grouped. There are the Important Security Updates, Recommended Updates, Proposed Updates and Other Updates. To select/unselect all the items under each group you only have to double-click on the group header.

Notice how the Important Security Updates are selected? Double-click on it to toggle selecting/unselecting all items under each group.

After double-clicking, all items under Important Security Updates are now unchecked. All the other groups are still selected for update. Do the same for each group that you don’t want to update.

Easy enough, right? I must admit that when I first started using Ubuntu, I manually unchecked about half of the items in the update list because I didn’t know one could just double-click on the update groups. Now don’t laugh at me now because that probably happened to you too.

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Notice: This article was published on August 16, 2010 and the content above may be out of date.