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How to Upgrade to Ubuntu 20.04 LTS

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How to Upgrade to Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (Focal Fossa) which was released on April 23, 2020, with a long term support which will be supported for five years. It comes with a lot of new packages and major software upgrades, including the latest versions of Java, Python, Ruby, PHP and many more.

This release is based on the Linux 5.4 LTS kernel and adds support for new hardware and file systems. The desktop edition comes with GNOME 3.36 and a new default theme called Yaru.

Prepare yourself for a role working as an Information Technology Professional with Linux operating system

This guide explains how to upgrade to Ubuntu 20.04 LTS from Ubuntu 18.04 or Ubuntu 19.10.

This setup is tested on Google Cloud so you can use this guide to update any of your servers or systems on AWS or Azure or any VPS or Dedicated servers running Ubuntu.


You can upgrade your server directly to version 20.04 from either Ubuntu 18.04 or Ubuntu 19.10 directly. If you run any previous release, you should first upgrade to Ubuntu 18.04 or 19.10 to proceed the upgrade progress.

Make sure you have root access to the server or a user with sudo privileges.

Important: Backup your data for restoring, in case if anything goes wrong.

Update Currently Installed Packages

Start by updating all your currently installed packages to their latest versions before making a release upgrade.

Some packages might be marked as held back which cannot be installed, upgraded, or removed automatically. This may cause issues during the upgrade process.

Execute the following command to check whether there are any held back packages on your system.

sudo apt-mark showhold

If there are any on hold, packages, you need to unhold the packages with the following command.

sudo apt-mark unhold package_name

Refresh the apt list and upgrade all installed packages.

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade

If the kernel is upgraded, you need reboot the machine.

sudo systemctl reboot

Once the reboot is completed, access your SSH terminal again.

Perform a major version upgrade of the installed packages:

sudo apt full-upgrade

Remove all automatically installed dependencies that are no longer needed by any package:

sudo apt --purge autoremove

Upgrade to Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (Focal Fossa)

Upgrading to the Ubuntu 20.04 is a pretty easy from the command line with do-release-upgrade or using the GUI update tool.

We’ll perform the update from the command-line, which should work for your desktop and your servers

do-release-upgrade is part of the “update-manager-core” package that is installed by default on most Ubuntu systems.

If it is not installed on your system, you can install it using the following command.

sudo apt install update-manager-core

Now start the upgrade using the following command.

sudo do-release-upgrade -d

The command will disable all third-party repositories and change the apt list to point to the new focal repositories. You will be prompted several times to confirm that you want to continue with the upgrade. When asked whether you want the services to be automatically restarted during the upgrade type y.

While upgrading an additional daemon will be started in the background so that the upgrade process won’t get terminated due to connection problems and starts back automatically.

If you continue, an additional ssh daemon will be started at port '1022'. 
Do you want to continue? 
Continue [yN] y

The whole process may take some time depending on the number of updates and your network speed.

Once the new packages are installed, the update tool will ask you if you want to remove the obsolete software. If you are not sure type d and check the list of obsolete packages. Generally it is safe to enter y and remove all obsolete packages.

When the upgrade process is complete and assuming all went well, you’ll be asked to reboot your machine.

Type y to continue. You will receive the message similar to the one below.

System upgrade is complete.

Restart required

To finish the upgrade, a restart is required.
If you select 'y' the system will be restarted.

Continue [yN] y

Confirm the Upgrade

Once your server or system is rebooted, access your SSh again and execute the following simple command.

lsb_release -a
No LSB modules are available.
Distributor ID: Ubuntu
Description:    Ubuntu 20.04 LTS
Release:        20.04
Codename:       focal 

That’s it. Now you have your new Ubuntu 20.04 LTS Ubuntu version installed.


Now you have learned how to upgrade your Ubuntu server or system to the latest Ubuntu 20.04 LTS.

Thanks for your time. If you face any problem or any feedback, please leave a comment below.


  1. kilgoretrout Reply

    This method will not work on 18.04 until 20.04.1 comes out in July.

      • Thank you for the article.
        It seems kilgoretrout is right: right now I cannot upgrade my Google Cloud instance to 20.04 from 18.04.
        do-release-upgrade says “There’s no development version of an LTS available”.
        Waiting for August 6!

        • My bad!
          I did noticed -d key after the sudo do-release-upgrade command.
          Now everything is running smoothly!
          Thanks again

  2. Man, I can’t thank you enough! This worked like a charm! I’d been struggling with this all day. I’m on AWS Lightsail. I know THIS is why you take the time to write this stuff, and that’s why I took the time to write how much it meant to me. 🙂

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