How do activate an automatic update for a Debian based distribution?

December 31, 2007

I’m running many VE’s (virtual environments) on some OpenVZ servers. A Linux distribution within the VE has no own kernel and I can always access a VE from the hardware node so I thought it is save to update them automatically every day, but they should not do the update at the same time (more than one runs on the same physical server) and if an error occurs I would like to get an email. Sounds not that easy, but it is. Just do following:

# apt-get -y install cron-apt
# cat > /etc/cron-apt/action.d/9-dist-upgrade
dist-upgrade -y -V -u -o Dpkg::Options::=--force-confold

and you’re done. If you configured the root mail alias to the right address you get a mail if something didn’t work. cron-apt waits a random amount of time when started by cron before it starts calling apt-get – so we are done. I’ve this setup running now for some years without ever having a problem with it. I use it for Debian Sarge and Etch and Ubuntu Dapper 6.06 LTS.

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