How to keep multiple Ubuntu servers up to date

 How keep multiple Ubuntu servers up to date

Once you have over three Ubuntu servers or desktops to manage it can be really useful to have a tool to help keep all their packages up to date. Put simply, you can’t keep logging into to each computer, checking and installing updates manually. I am not talking about configuring Ubuntu in the first place (you would do this is Ansible / Puppet etc). I’m just talking about installing periodic package upgrades.

For me the specific technical requirements of this tool would be:

  • The ability to see the state of all servers on one screen
  • Granular control to upgrade a single or multiple servers at once.
  • Granular control to upgrade a single or multiple or all packages at once

The general user / business requirements would be:

  • A simple easy to use piece of software with fast learning curve.
  • Good security protocols.
  • Good value for money.
  • Well maintained
  • Open source (optional)

I did some research, I found and tested following tools:

  • apt-dater – This is my preferred solution. Apt-Dater is an easy to use command line tool. The command line apperance is actually an advantage over a web based system because you can actually ssh into the computer directly from apt-dater itself. I.e. you can can see the packages being installed and then ssh in to fix any issues if they occur. It is very easy to configure.