How to Configure or Disable Automatic Updates on Ubuntu

Keeping your computer system updated is, of course, one of the most important tasks as it saves you from so many security and privacy-related problems, not to mention new features (if any) each update brings along. Most modern day operating systems are configured in a way that they automatically check for updates, saving the user extra time and effort that he/she might otherwise have to invest in order to keep their system updated.

While the auto-check feature for system updates is no doubt designed keeping user convenience in mind, there are times when it can be annoying or scenarios where it is undesirable. Take for example the Ubuntu operating system which, by default, auto-checks for updates daily and throws a dialog box similar to the one shown below in your face each time it finds one.


Now, if for whatever reason, you aren’t interested in installing a particular update, the dialog box will still appear every day when you start using your system. If you’ve faced this situation, you’ll agree that this is where things get annoying. So, what’s the way out? The answer is to configure automatic updates the way you want or disable them altogether if you’re aware of what you’re doing and don’t have any other option.

Note: all steps mentioned in this article have been tested on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS.

To do this first head to the Unity Dash on your Ubuntu system and search for “Software & Updates.”


Click on the “Software & Updates” icon, and a window should open up containing various update-related configuration options grouped under five tabs including Ubuntu Software, Other Software, Updates, Authentication, and Additional Drivers.


Click on the “Updates” tab, and you should see several configuration options related to software updates including an option titled “Automatically check for updates” which is set to “Daily” by default.


Click on “Daily,” and you’ll see other values that you can set for this option including “Every two days,” “Weekly,” “Every two weeks,” and “Never.”


As you might have gathered by now, selecting “Never” will disable the auto-check feature. Of course, you can choose any other value depending on your nends.

Note: keep in mind that disabling the auto-check feature will just stop the system from checking for updates without your permission. You’ll still be able to manually check for the updates, something which you can do through the command line as well as a GUI-based tool like Software Updater.

The “Updates” tab also contains many other options such as those related to displaying the updates with the security updates – quite understandably – set to be displayed immediately by default, while other updates are configured to be displayed weekly. Then there are also options that you can enable/disable to tell the system the kind of updates you want (or don’t want) to install.

There could be many reasons for you to stop the automatic checking, hence the installation of system updates including limited Internet bandwidth, sticking to a particular version of a software or OS kernel, and more. However, what’s worth stressing here is that completely disabling the auto-check feature (which obviously would also disable the checking for security updates) isn’t an intelligent move until, of course, you understand the risks involved and still want to go ahead with it.

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